Contortionists to tie themselves up in knots as swimmers limber up for Lee challenge

Funds from this year's swim will be going to Enable Ireland, represented by Maria Desmond. Picture: Des Barry

Ireland’s largest free summer show rolls into Cork this weekend with a lizardman, contortionists, magicians and some of the world’s top street performers set to enthrall thousands of visitors.

The 11th Laya City Spectacular festival will take over the city’s Fitzgerald’s Park from 12pm to 8pm today and tomorrow, featuring the best in international street performance, interactive family activations and workshops, as well as an artisan food market with fare from 15 countries around the world.

This year’s festival will include reptile-tattooed sideshow superstar and self-proclaimed freak, The Lizardman who has spent an estimated 700 hours on tattooing and other body modifications, Irish puppet legend Bosco, Bruce Springsteen’s favourite street performer, contortionist Alakazam — The human knot, and the larger-than-life eight foot tall fully-animated Titan the Robot.

Amsterdam’s hula hoopist Lisa Lottie and her husband, former Cirque Du Soleil acrobat Reuben Dot Dot Dot, who performs as part of the duo LEAP, a jaw-dropping collaboration with strong woman Betty Brawn, will also thrill audiences with their incredible displays.

Performing partners, boyfriend and girlfriend Kamikaze Fireflies, who hold world records for cracking 24 eggs on a head in 60 seconds while running an all-fours in a back-bend position, are also on the line-up.

The popular Kid’s Court, which allows children put their parents on trial, and hand down sentences including a custard-pie-in-the-face or a drenching with a bucket of iced water, makes a return, while the O’Eggs Fun on the Farm attraction will provide children with hands-on fun playing with immersive farm toys which will allow them to try loading trailers, digging and scooping with tractors in the sand pit, or manouevering through a life-like model farm display.

The event will also feature the ESB’s Spark Your Imagination creative hub for children, which includes a live science and electricity show from Doktor Kaboom.

Later today, a record number of swimmers will dive into the River Lee for the Vibes & Scribes Lee Swim, with funds raised being donated to Enable Ireland Cork.

With entries from Australia, Austria, England, Germany, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland and the US, this year’s popular open-water swimming event has attracted the highest number of entrants since its relaunch in 2005.

A total of 170 women and 340 men will set off from the starting point at the Old Distillery on the North Mall at 3pm before navigating their way east some 2km along the river’s northern channel, before swinging west at the Port of Cork where the two channels meet.

The number of wet-suited swimmers has increased over the years to a point where this year, 325 swimmers, or 64% of all participants, will swim in wet-suits — the highest rate to date.

The money raised will help Enable Ireland Cork as it plans to develop a new multi-million services centre on the site of the former ESB Social Club in Curraheen, on the city’s western outskirts.

Meanwhile, thousands are expected in Killorglin, Co Kerry, over the weekend for the culmination of the Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan.

Major traffic diversions will be in place in and around the town, and gardaí have advised motorists to expect delays.


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