Winterval Launch 2023

Gigantic Winterval Festival Programme Announced for 2023
By Trevor Darmody, Winterval Co-Director
Winterval Launch 2023

Over 40 Events on offer & the festival is set to open with an awesome christmas parade

Waterford will host its 11th annual Winterval Festival from November 17th to December 23rd. Today (October 11th) festival organisers unveil a programme of over 40 events with the festivities set to officially begin with a gigantic Christmas Parade rolling through Waterford city on a 1km route from its Quayside to the top of John Robert’s Square at 5 pm on November 17th 2023.

The parade will see the arrival of Santa Claus in a special and spectacular way where he will travel to the festival’s main stage for the switching on the City’s Christmas lights, marking the beginning of festivities in Ireland’s oldest City.

Winterval will host over 40 festive fun events with 20 of those on offer free of charge, in addition, some of the ticketed events will see proceeds donated to the charity organisations Tintean Housing Association and The Red Cross.  

The action-packed programme will offer a series of events alongside some one-off special events during the festival period; locals and visitors alike will enjoy the one-off events including a Jingle Bells Christmas Cycle, a Christmas Tractor Parade, a Blue Light Showcase with all of the emergency services, SuirCon Comic Conference, BuskAid, the Irish Doctor’s Choir presentation of Samson, Home Alone screened with a live score by the National Symphony Orchestra, The Armed Man at St John’s Church & the Lions Club Christmas Concert at the Cathedral. 

The free events on the programme include a gigantic and magical talking postbox where boys and girls can post their Christmas letters but also be entertained by an elf post-collection show at weekends, a GLOW garden and a brand new sensory wall at New Street Gardens, an incredible Winterval light show which sees a magical array of animation sitting amidst a backdrop depicting the City’s skyline which features of some of Ireland’s oldest buildings, this will be on offer every half hour and includes special effects which are a sight to behold. A brand new Viking Elf trail hunt is also on offer along with access to a Viking Yule Village by Deise Medieval where Waterford’s heritage takes prime position with a showcase of what Christmas was like in Waterford some 1100 years ago when it was founded by the Vikings. Festivalgoers can hark back in time and enjoy the real-life smells, foods and experiences of Viking life during the festive season. There will also be storytelling sessions, a free music stage, a model circus and fairground exhibition and lots more. 

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 in John Robert’s Square, the Port of  Waterford Eye and the Winterval mini Express train, the Elf workshops, Polish Christmas, a Gerbola Christmas Circus, Santa’s VR sleigh ride, helter-skelter, helicopter trips with Santa, festive river cruises aboard the Barrow Princess and more. 

In addition, there are some brand-new elements including a fantastical ‘Adventure of Narnia’ show which will be hosted at a mini Big Top in the heart of the City at Jenkin’s Lane. The performance will leave audiences mesmerised with aerial displays, fire breathing and more as the magical story of Narnia is unveiled. There will also be a brand new Lego exhibition and workshops, a 360 video booth, a Winterval Book of Love, Candlelight music sessions in the city’s 13th-century undercrofts, a Yuletide Festival at Christ Church Cathedral and more.

Santa will be taking centre stage at the festival in the city's heart on Broad Street. He will be ensconced in his candy-filled Gingerbread House in the city centre for Winterval. The Winterval elves have been super busy and they will be ready to welcome boys and girls to visit Santa from November 17th. 

The Winterval Christmas market will be set out in a series of attractive 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 and the Waterford Cultural Quarter Market featuring crafts from the city’s vibrant arts community. There will also be a live choral stage each weekend in Waterford’s cultural quarter featuring a mix of choirs from all over the country serving as the perfect backdrop to the festival market.

A Winterval by Night programme offers a mix of live music gigs at The Reg, a Winter Music Series at Waterford Crystal along with a series of choral and concert events at SETU, Christchurch Cathedral and more.

Speaking at the programme launch, co-directors Trevor Darmody and John Grubb say, “Winterval 2023 is set to light up Waterford with Ireland’s Christmas Festival. We have the largest programme on offer to date and we have placed a huge focus on free and low-cost events, there are 20 free events and activities and a large number of low-cost activities with a proportion of these linked to charity organisations too. 

Winterval is the biggest celebration of the festive season in Ireland and we are very proud to unveil a programme that is comparable with some of Europe’s biggest festive celebrations. The festival is filled with delights at each turn in Waterford, from music to great food, crafts and things to do for all the family - it is just bursting with festive cheer.” 

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 retuning 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 

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