Waterford selected as European City of Christmas 2024
The International Jury of the European Capital and City of Christmas 2024 competition has unanimously voted to award the European City of Christmas 2024 title to Waterford City.
The International Jury, chaired by Danuta Hübner, Member of the European Parliament, and comprised of Mr Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, Mr Francisco Fonseca Murillo, Ms Marisol Garmendia, Ms Ainhoa García Jabonero, Mr Massimo Ruggero, Ms Mercedes Guillamón, assisted by the president of Christmas Cities Network, Alberto Gutiérrez Alberca, congratulated the city for "the high level of the projects presented, their proposals and the commitment of these cities to the European values of Christmas.”
The judging panel was impressed with Waterford City and County Council’s submission, citing, ‘The City of Waterford is an extraordinary jewel of Christmas harmony and aesthetics and represents values such as solidarity, which lies with the local communities as well as a strong commitment to its heritage as a hallmark of identity, material and above all immaterial and culture.’
It continued, ‘Waterford represents the ultimate expression of creative culture thanks to the great work done with its illuminations and markets. Just as the streets become the perfect setting when associations, tourists and neighbours come together in a Christmas experience with its own identity.’
Winterval, Ireland’s biggest and best-loved Christmas festival will form the basis for Waterford as the European City of Christmas 2024.
As Ireland’s First dedicated Christmas festival, created by Waterford City and County Council in partnership with local stakeholders in 2012, year after year the festival has attracted on average 500,000 visitors throughout its six-week calendar.
As a festival for everyone of all ages and interests, Winterval 2024 promises to be the biggest Festival hosted in Waterford, with over 700,000 visitors anticipated to the festival, which will showcase the true meaning of an Irish Christmas, focusing on family and togetherness, communities and connectedness through arts, culture, food and entertainment.
Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr Joe Conway was delighted with such a prestigious accolade for Waterford, saying, “When it comes to Christmas celebrations, Waterford City and County Council has a track record to be proud of. Since its inception in 2012, Winterval has grown to become Ireland’s favourite Christmas Festival, with an abundance of Christmas magic, festive family favourites and seasonal surprises.
“Its success stems from several factors which include local authority funding and commitment, strong stakeholder engagement and a festival team that has a flair for bringing the most festive, wonder-filled and engaging events to the streets of Waterford.
“Being recognised and awarded such a prestigious title as the European City of Christmas is a wonderful testament to Waterford of Christmases past and how Waterford is best in class when it comes to embracing the magic of Christmas.”
The directors of the Winterval Festival, John Grubb and Trevor Darmody are thrilled with the win. “We are delighted to see Waterford awarded the European City of Christmas 2024. The business community, the Winterval festival team and the festival’s volunteers backed by Waterford City and County Council work incredibly hard to deliver a magical Winter wonderland in the city each year, so, it is a real honour and testament to see this accolade come to Waterford and indeed Ireland for the first time for 2024. This award also means that the 2024 festival will be even extra special next year and planning for that is already underway!”
In addition to this award, Brno (Czech Republic) has been awarded the European Christmas Capital title, while special mention was given to the small municipality of Almaza (Spain) with less than 600 inhabitants.
The International Jury of the European Capital and City will officially present Waterford with the award and title at an awards ceremony in Madrid in early January 2024.