Next Friday, (November 17th) Santa Claus will roll into Waterford City inside a gigantic festive bauble partaking in a Christmas Parade which will culminate at the Winterval Main Stage at the top of John Robert’s Square for the switching on the City’s lights with the Mayor of Waterford Cllr. Joe Conway is marking the official opening of Ireland’s Christmas Festival.
At precisely 5 pm this Friday (November 17th) the Waterford will transform into a Christmas winter wonderland. The Winterval Parade will depart the City’s Quayside at the Port of Waterford Winterval Eye travelling up through Barronstrand Street into John Roberts Square, continuing through Broad Street and finishing at the top of Michael Street at 5:45 pm. The City’s Christmas lights will be officially switched on at 6 pm.
The parade will feature some of the wonderful delights of the festival including the Gerbola Christmas Circus, the cast of Waterford Panto’s ‘Rapunzel’ and the cast of the Narnia Christmas Show, the Winterval Mini Express Train, visitors from The North Pole, some of the big man’s naughtiest elves and even Mrs Claus.
Winterval Festival Events:
Once the lights of Winterval are switched on the City will be transformed into a land of magical festive entertainment with the opening of the City Fairground and Winterval on Ice, the first Christmas Circus show, the first Narnia Christmas Show will commence at Jenkin’s Lane big top, the first Winterval Illuminates light show will begin at Arundel Square from 7 pm, and the Glenveagh Winterval Food & Craft Market will open across the City centre. The entertainment will continue on into the wee hours across Waterford’s busy bars and restaurants right around the city.
The full programme of events is on offer until December 23rd. Highlights include the vintage Ferris wheel, a vintage carousel, the Port of Waterford Eye, the Winterval Mini Express train, Glow Gardens, a virtual ride in Santa’s sleigh a Deise Medieval Viking Village Showcase at Spring Garden Alley, a miniature model Circus showcase will be exhibited, Santa Claus will be ensconced with his elves at the Gingerbread House on Michael Street and there is even a gigantic talking postbox at The Apple Market.
In addition, there is an abundant programme of Music and Theatre. Ben Hennessy will present Shadow Puppetry Show at the main stage, Kitty Kaboodle will be offering storytelling for children at the Book, the Irish Doctor’s Choir present Samson, Home Alone will be screened with a live score by the National Symphony Orchestra, The Armed Man is presented at St John’s Church & the Lions Club Christmas Concert will take place at the Cathedral, the House of Waterford Crystal presents its Annual Winter Music Series and a ‘Help Save Santa’s Magic’ show for children will be on offer at Garter Lane Theatre.
The Winterval Live Stage will offer live performances during the festival. Visitors can kick back to the live musicians, bands, choirs and performance ensembles on The Winterval Main Stage on O’Connell Street, in the heart of the Winterval Market. There is also a series of one-off events from a Blue Light Showcase to a Tractor Prade a Jingle Bell Cycle, Busk Aid and SuirCon comic conference, each on offer once during weekends throughout the festival.
The festival co-directors John Grubb and Trevor Darmody expect almost half a million festival-goers to enjoy the 2023 festival in the City and deliver an economic impact of over 14 million euros. “Waterford is currently being transformed with the festival build happening in the City this week. This festival is one of the highlights not only in the Waterford festival calendar but right across the Southeast. It is the 11th year of Winterval and the festival has grown exponentially each year, from both and offering point of view but also in terms of visitor numbers attending to enjoy these events. It will importantly ensure a busy City centre for Waterford this festive season and based on bookings, accommodation occupancy and past experience we expect the festival will deliver approximately 14 million euros by way of economic impact for Waterford this year.”
Access & Parking:
The Winterval Festival directors are encouraging as many people as possible to use public transport to access the city centre where possible while they have also arranged for new and additional car parking to be available for those who do need to drive.
In addition to the regular car parks available across Waterford City Centre, the Winterval team have worked with local operators to open up new sites and car parking spaces for visitors to Waterford this year. The new car-park spaces include 275 new spaces at the Old Brooks Site CarPark; 200 new spaces at the newly opened upper floors of The Glen Multi-storey carpark; and 300 free of charge car parking spaces at the RSC on the Cork Road – whereby visitors can walk 15 minutes to the city centre.
Winterval is supported by Waterford City and County Council as well as a host of other local, national and international businesses, all of whom have a keen interest in Waterford and the Southeast region; including Bausch + Lomb as returning sponsors of the reimagined Winterval Illuminates light show; Glenveagh Homes have taken a two-year named sponsorship of the Glenveagh Christmas Market at Winterval; Expressway returns as the festival’s official transport partners, as do City Square Shopping Centre as sponsors of Santa’s Mini Express Train, and the Port of Waterford as named sponsors of the Port of Waterford Eye.
The full Winterval Festival programme is available to view and book online at www.winterval.ie