The festival got under way last night with a black tie ball, which had a Celtic Glamour theme, at €130 per ticket, in the National Events Centre, Gleneagle Hotel. Guests of honour were the Minister for Tourism John O’Donoghue and the Mayor of Killarney Brian O’Leary.
The festival programme, aimed at boosting business during a traditionally slack period in the tourist season, has an emphasis on family-style and street entertainment The GAA grounds, Fitzgerald Stadium, will be the venue for three open-air concerts, expected to be attended by up to 40,000 people this weekend.
The first concert by Bryan Adams is expected to attract a sell-out audience of 25,000 tonight. 20,000 tickets had already been sold by yesterday. Tomorrow night, The Corrs will be on stage before a crowd of 10,000.
Ticket sales for the concert by country legend Kris Kristofferson, Sunday night, remain slow, up to 5,000 by yesterday.
Nearly all available beds in Killarney have been booked out for the weekend, with some people looking for B&B in neighbouring towns such as Killorglin, Kenmare and Tralee.
Gardaí are advising people to come early to avoid traffic hold-ups. Free parking is being provided in two fields close to the stadium.
Parking is also being allowed on the Killarney bypass road.
Pubs are also gearing up for a bonanza weekend, with revellers expected to spill on to the streets.
Gardaí said they would be concerned about people bringing glasses that might be used in public order incidents onto the streets.
However, gardaí said they did not have a problem with people drinking on the streets, provided it was supervised and controlled.