Countdown is on to Kelpie’s arrival in Falkirk

The models are on display in Chicago
The models are on display in Chicago
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The multi-million pound Helix project tipped to put Falkirk firmly on the international tourism map will open to the public in 46 weeks time.

By July next year the central park - complete with its lagoon and unique Kelpies - will be welcoming visitors for the first time.

The man in charge of the £43 million spend to transform the 350 hectare site, which has the potential to attract 250,000 visitors a year, told Falkirk Council’s leisure, tourism and community committee: “The Helix is happening!”

Programme director Mike King promised: “The park will cover 42 hectares on its own and be one of the most innovative outdoor spaces in the country. There will be nothing, anywhere, that compares with it.”

The park will feature the first splash-play fountains for children in the district and the lagoon will be available to sport and leisure clubs for water sports including sailing and kayaking.

A multi-use open-air event space capable of holding a few hundred to a few thousand people, a visitors’ centre, catering facilities, equipment hire kiosks will be ready - and towering 30 metres above it all, taking centre stage, will be the magical Celtic water horses The Kelpies designed by artist Andy Scott and already under construction.

Linking the attraction to 16 communities across the district will be a network of paths for walkers and cyclists stretching 27 kilometres.

But there will also be ample car parking for cars and coaches to accomodate the anticipated crowds.

The boss of The Helix team said: “The central park will be a fantastic place to use and enjoy, but The Kelpies which will each be constructed from 500 seperate pieces of fabricated sheet will be the king of the attractions.

“They will be seen from miles away in every direction and dominate the skyline.”

Councillors were told models of The Kelpies, the Maquettes - one pair outside the BBC headquarters in Glasgow and the other impressing the crowds in Grant Park in Chicago as part of the 2012 Chicago Sculpture International Outdoor Exhibition - have already given the public a taste of what they can expect by visiting the real thing and could even be mass-produced in miniature and sold as souvenirs.

The final phase of The Helix, the 900-metre canal hub, will be finished by the end of 2013 and ready for the visitor season starting the following Easter.​