500,000 visitors are expected to descend on Waterford City later this month as details the second annual ‘Winterval’ Festival have been unveiled by RTE children’s TV presenter Megan Cassidy.
The thirty-day Winterval Festival gets underway with the arrival of the ‘Man in Red’ via the River Suir aboard a Viking Longboat on Friday, November 29. The thirty day festival in Ireland’s oldest city and will host a variety of traditional family fun activities from until December 31.
The largest celebration of the festive season in Ireland is offering families a trail of over 20 different events and activities with 13 of those events on offer free of charge.
Commenting at the launch of the Winterval Festival, Chairperson Barry Monaghan said, “We are delighted to unveil the programme for year two of Winterval, the very first festival last year was a huge success we had over 250,000 visitors to Waterford City during the festival with lots of families enjoying all of the events the majority of those being free of charge.
This is a festival, which is on a comparable basis to the best continental festivals and is now filling what was a huge gap in the market in Ireland for an all-encompassing Christmas Festival. In 2012 Retail Excellence Ireland unveiled their figures to detail a 30% boost in retail in Waterford during December, they directly aligned this to the ‘Experiential shopping’ offering available through Winterval so, we hope to build on this for 2013 through this entirely volunteer driven Festival. Independent research was carried out during the 2012 festival and 92% of our visitors said they would return in 2013, we have also worked on improvements with more street entertainment, more evening events and we are extending the length of the festival by an additional five days.”
Free events at Winterval include a spectacular 3D sound and light show designed especially for Winterval, which will light up the Deanery in Cathedral Square each evening during the festival. A uniquely Irish take on Christmas see’s the Waterford Vikings Fado set up camp at Greyfriars Chruch where they will demonstrate the traditions of a Viking Christmas and celebrating the polish culture a ‘Traditional Polish Christmas’ will be hosted by Waterford’s Polish community and offers festivalgoers Gingerbread Man making class for children and lots more at ‘Swiety Mikolaj’.
A gigantic Santa’s Postbox of over 10 feet tall will sit at the ‘heart’ of Winterval in the city’s John Robert’s Square where letters will be collected each Saturday and Sunday with a ‘song and dance’ showcase from Waterford Academy of Music and Arts.
Hasbro have joined forces with the festival and at City Hall they host a very special Toy Museum, which will include a wonderful array of toys that children around the world have enjoyed since the 1930’s! Further free events include an Animal Farm complete with Reindeer, Movie Screenings, Storytelling at Reginald’s Tower and Ireland’s only ‘Singing Christmas Tree’ a giant tree built at Palace Square over 40 feet tall, which will be filled with choirs on each of it’s branches entertaining the masses with festive song.
Other highlights for festival-goers include a Georgian Christmas is on offer at Bishop’s Palace, a Winterval Express road-train, a Horse-drawn Sleigh and Waterford On Ice, a host of theatre productions, a Carousel, a Snowgloe and Helter Skelter.
Santa once he alights his Viking Long-ship will be escorted by Viking helpers through the city’s medieval streets to the 13th century medieval undercrofts; where he will remain to meet boys and girls in his Elfish village and snow garden until December 23.
Commenting at the launch Megan Cassidy of RTE said, “I love Christmas and I loved the 2012 Winterval Festival, when I saw last year what the festival offers children, I knew I wanted to get on board in any way I could. The city turns into a Wonderland; it is just so magical for families and children. People come from all over the country and beyond to enjoy Winterval and it is fantastic to see the vibrancy and festive cheer that this festival creates as Ireland’s Christmas Festival.”
In keeping with another tradition established in medieval times when end-of-year markets sprung up as social gatherings where people could enjoy a little excess before the onset of bitter weather. A festive ‘Winterval Market’ will take over the heart of the medieval city where 60 beautifully decorated traditional log cabins will host an offering of the very best quality and range of goods from Ireland’s food and craft producers.
Further details on Winterval events can be found at Winterval.ie
ENDS – November 4, 2013.
FREE TO USE IMAGES AVAILABLE FROM PATRICK BROWNE
For further information contact Ann Power 086 3065588