CROWDS will be allowed onto the Forth Road Bridge for the first time since its opening to watch a parade marking its 50th birthday next year, officials revealed today.
Up to 12,500 people will be permitted to walk onto one of the carriageways of the 1.6 mile-long crossing - Scotland’s largest man-made structure - to see a procession of bands, floats and vintage cars from the 1960s on the opposite carriageway.
The event, on Sunday 7 September, 2014, could also include the first ever parachute jump onto the bridge, being planned by the Golden Lions Scottish Infantry Parachute Display Team.
It will be accompanied by a flotilla of boats in the Forth and an air display overhead, with the bridge being closed to traffic for several hours during the morning event.
The Forth Bridge may join in with a steam train and abseilers, along with the Forth Replacement Crossing, whose towers will have started rising from the water by then.
The event is expected to be preceded by a torchlit procession across the bridge the night before.
The celebrations form part of a ten-day Forth Bridges Festival, culminating in a fireworks display on the bridge and nearby barges on 13 September, with the “unique spectacle” to be watched by spectators on either side of the Forth.
Other events include the opportunity for 2,014 people to be taken by lift and ladder to the top of one of the towers, 500ft (150m) above the river. Ticket prices will depend on the amount of sponsorship attracted by the festival.
There will also be a Forth bridges art trail and an attempt to set a world record for the largest ever “sit-down lunch”.
The festival is being organised by the Forth Estuary Transport Authority (Feta), which runs the bridge, and business development group Queensferry Ambition, and will be a key part of the Homecoming 2014 celebrations.
Feta convener Tony Martin said: “FETA is delighted to be working with local communities, the Scottish Government and public bodies on either side of the Forth. Together we are committed to delivering a truly memorable celebration.
The festival will launch a three-year bridges celebration, comprising the Forth Bridge’s 125th anniversary in 2015 and the Forth Replacement Crossing’s opening the following year.
The main event to celebrate the road bridge’s 25th birthday in 1989 was branded a flop after a so-called “spectacular” laser display was barely visible to thousands of spectators, but a fireworks display on the Forth Bridge for its centenary the following year was acclaimed as a triumph.
A celebration of the Forth Road Bridge’s 40th birthday saw the Red Arrows fly over in tribute.