Leeside competes for festivals capital honour

IT already regards itself as the ‘real capital’. Now Cork has launched a bid to become the country’s festivals capital.

Fáilte Ireland joined forces with the city’s Festival Forum last night to launch Cork’s first 2011 Festival and Events Calendar.

It showcases the wide range of events — from folk to film, culture to Christmas, literature to learning — which will be staged on Leeside this year.

To date, the organisers of each of the city’s festivals have worked on their own events. That has now changed, thanks to the Festival Forum which brings representatives of all the festivals together to promote the city itself as a top festival destination.

Some of this year’s highlights include the St Patrick’s Day Festival, the Cork Midsummer Festival, the Ocean to City Race, the Cork Film Festival, the City Marathon, the Jazz Festival, the Choral Festival and the hugely successful Christmas in Cork Celebration.

Fiona Buckley, head of operations for Fáilte Ireland in the south-west, said it is vital the city works together to promote the events.

“This forum is a great example of Cork city working together towards a common goal across the various sectors from tourism to retail, restaurants to transport,” she said.

“It is our vision that the city is renowned as a festival city that is animated and, most importantly, is well-served to welcome visitors, both from home and abroad.”

Cork Festival Forum’s Sean Kelly said festivals directly generate several million euro in revenue for local businesses and attract huge numbers of visitors to the city every year.

“They, at the same time, create the vibrant atmosphere that helped make Cork a recent top ten destination in the Lonely Planet guide,” he said.

“We are very proud of our relationships with local businesses and hope to deepen these ties in the future,” he said.

Research shows that 40% of all adults in Ireland attend festivals and attend on average two to three every year.

A total of 72% spend one or more nights away from home, generating in excess of 2 million hotel bednights in Ireland from the domestic market alone.

Ms Buckley said festivals also benefit the country.

“Irish festivals promote Ireland as a tourist destination worldwide with 30% of festivals receiving international media coverage,” she said.

“On average, one-third of festival audiences book into local accommodation staying for at least one night. “

* www.corkfestivalsforum.com

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