Cutting the ice at Winterval festival

Santa Claus gets Waterford into the festive spirit as he arrives to open Winterval.

Winterval kickedoff the festive season last night when Santa delivered a giant ice block to artists at Waterford Crystal, who will transform it into a set of seasonal sculptures.

The opening of the third Winterval festival in Waterford coincided with the switch-on of the city’s Christmas lights, performed by Santa Claus and Mayor Lola O’Sullivan after the big man’s arrival at The Mall on a huge iceberg was greeted by thousands.

Winterval, which runs until December 23, features a market of 60 cabins and a trail of 32 festive events.

The half-tonne block of ice — towed from the North Pole, say organisers — was presented to the House of Waterford Crystal where professionals will turn it into sculptures, to be unveiled at the Winterval Ice Rink on the quays on Saturday, November 29.

Last year more than a quarter of a million people visited Winterval, despite high winds and wet weather, and chief executive Sinead O’Neill Hartery said there were hopes of increased visitor numbers this time.

“We are delighted to open 32 festival events, 17 of which are free of charge, and we look forward to welcoming lots of families to Winterval over the festive period,” she said.

David McCoye of the House of Waterford Crystal said the ice-block is a great opportunity to create a new piece of artwork. “The sculptures will be wonderfully unique and will capture the festive season and the heritage of Waterford.”

Among the highlights of the festival is a newly- commissioned 3D lightshow featuring The Grinch, Santa and other characters, which will run, free of charge, every half- hour on the front of the Old Deanery building.

Other attractions include a helter-skelter; snow-globe; Hasbro Toy Museum; Penguins at The Palace; a free movie theatre showing Disney’s Frozen on a loop; storytelling at Reginald’s Tower; craft workshops; a giant Winterval postbox for Santa letters; and South Pole Enchanted Garden.

Those wishing to travel the city trail can take the Winterval Express and horse-drawn sleigh stations are the place to head to for a trail trip.


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