Winterval's Christmas Festival's programme was unveiled last night as this year marks the 10th annual Festival.
The Festival will run from November 18th to December 23rd with the country’s first Christmas parade being unveiled alongside the festival’s biggest programme of events yet.
The arrival of Santa Claus as part of Ireland’s first Christmas parade will see Winterval commence. The parade will traverse through the City Centre coming to a stop at the main stage on Michael Street, where the lights will be switched on, marking the beginning of the festivities in Waterford City.
The organisers have planned a ‘10th Birthday’ celebration for each weekend of the festival with unique highlights set to include a Jingle Bells Christmas Cycle, a Christmas Tractor Parade, A Blue Light Parade with all of the emergency services, SuirCon Comic Conference, and BuskAid with proceeds going to Tintean Housing Association.
There is also free events on the programme, these include a gigantic talking postbox where boys and girls can post their Christmas letters but also be entertained by an elf post collection show each weekend, a hall of magic mirrors and a host of free children’s workshops, a free shadow puppet show plus the magic lights of the New Street Garden trail filled with wonderous displays for families to explore.
The Winterval light show will be projected onto a purpose-built castle placed at the entry point to Winterval. This will be on offer every half hour and includes special effects.
The Winterval firm favourites will also be on offer across the city from the ice rink on the city’s Quayside to the vintage Ferris wheel at Arundel Square, a vintage carousel, the Waterford Eye is also back as is a reimagined Winterval Mini Express train and in addition, there are some brand new elements including a virtual ride in Santa’s sleigh plus a Wizard and Dragon interactive exhibition which offers the thrill of seeing fictitious characters brought to life through simulations, gigantic animatronics and visuals.
Santa will be taking centre stage at the festival in the heart of the city on Broad Street. He will be ensconced in Santa’s Central Station where a band of merry elves will lead little ones to the door of Santa's magical cabin and families can meander through Santa's City Centre installation, taking pictures with photo scenes along the way.
There will be live music on stage each weekend in Waterford’s cultural quarter featuring a mix of community and professional acts serving as the perfect backdrop to the festival market.
The Winterval Christmas market will be set out in a series of wooden chalets through the spine of Ireland’s oldest city into the cultural quarter – spanning the Viking city from George’s Street to Hanover Street and onto Gladstone Street and all in the midst of the Winterval family fun attractions.
The market will connect with Waterford Crafts at Garter Lane Gallery, all-encompassing a variety of over 100 food, drinks, crafts, and gift producers and creators.
Waterford’s heritage takes prime position with Déise Medieval hosting a traditional Viking Settlement where festivalgoers can hark back in time and enjoy the real-life smells, foods and experiences of Viking life during the festival season, back when Waterford was first established as Ireland’s oldest City.
Brand new and novel elements include an opportunity for visitors to book a date for their doggie with Santa Paws, plus the Gerbola Circus will be hosting a festive circus show each weekend.
A Winterval by night programme of will be on offer at The Reg, alongside their World Cup fan zone, plus Christmas concerts at the Cathedral and music at Waterford Crystal.
"Winterval is the largest celebration of the festive season in Ireland and this year there is a trail through Ireland’s oldest city offering over 50 different events and activities with 14 of those events on offer free of charge.," Co-directors Trevor Darmody and John Grubb said at the launch of the programme.