More than 30,000 people are reckoned to have packed onto the quays of Waterford City on Sunday night for the traditional climax of the Spraoi festival.

The crowds showed their appreciation for float after float of entertainment, music, and artistry on the theme of ‘Waterford: The Musical’, which celebrated famous faces and places from the area, past and present, and also celebrated a successful Spraoi 2016.

After a few years of bad luck on the meteorological front, organisers were this year breathing sighs of relief thanks to three days of dry, warm weather which helped draw huge crowds to the many free events and shows around the city.

“From Friday at 4pm straight through to [Sunday] night at midnight, the performers and the artists and the audiences got a straight run at building momentum together,” said director TV Honan, said yesterday.

From the proud history of ‘the glass’ to Waterford’s hurling tradition, from the goats on Bilberry hill to the Metalman in Tramore, all were given a nod during the spectacular parade which preceded the fireworks. Other highlights included the many and varied musical acts, along with performers from 14 countries including Belgian “dynamite and poetry” outfit 15Ft6, and the Garaghty and Thom comedy circus.

“We had been after both of those for a number of years but the schedules never worked out before, so to have the two of them here together made a huge impact and they were ginormous with the audiences,” said Honan.

“By the end of the weekend we had micro-populations of the city moving from one location to the other, because the word of mouth had gone around.”

Another new departure was the show Morbid and Sons, co-financed by Spraoi and the Arts Council, created by the Curious State theatre company. A big hit over the weekend, this ‘legacy project’ of the south-east’s bid to win European City of Culture status will be staged during the forthcoming Kilkenny Arts Festival and autumn’s Wexford Festival Opera.


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