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TIME OFF: TRAVEL: A seaside spectacle; Janet Tansley on a weekend of fun.

Byline: Janet Tansley

IF you aren't heading to theLiverpool waterfront this weekend, you might like to try Southport, where the Southport Pier extravaganza kicks off in style with plenty of family fun.

The event,part of the Mersey River Festival, is the second on the resort's Victorian landmark pier.

The restored 3,600ft pier,opened in 1860, is the oldest in the country and the second longest after Southend.

Saturday and Sunday will include The Seagulls - surreal giant sea birds that will snatch chips from people's plates and rummage in their pockets,enchant children and squabble over pizza boxes.

And if giant seagulls weren't enough, there are also giant penguins, which will also be fishing for compliments,flapping about,and nosing around.

Lord Fearn,Sefton's Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, says:``Last year's event attracted hundreds of people to the pier and this year we are expecting even more, particularly as it forms part of the Mersey River Festival celebrations.''

Off the pier two Oxbridge undergraduates will be seen setting off on a relaxing punt then regaling and serenading the public as the boat drifts.

The hilarious Lifeboat act is also set to sail in. This street boat is based on an 8ft clinker-built skiff which will carry two hilarious and eccentric characters around the pier.

Expect some more bar my behaviour from Swash and Buckle -Nautical Nonsense, which features two buccaneers who will lay siege to the pier sailing up and down on their ship,The Saucy Saucepot.

During the weekend visitors will also have the opportunity to see a model sailing event at the new Jubilee Pond,Rotten Row. On Saturday there will be the first Southport Open Regatta (fresh water sailing) with senior, junior and ladies competitions. On Sunday, the 26th National Model Lifeboat Rally/Regatta takes place.

For details 'phone 01704 395511 or visit www.southport.com

CAPTION(S):

GULL-ABLE:A chip shop vendor is about to become victim to a hungry ``seabird'', while (right) two more are on the lookout for grub; SLOWBOAT: This Oxbridge punt will be back afloat for the Pier spectacular
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 15, 2004
Words:350
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