Winterval to draw 500,000 visitors

Up to half a million visitors are expected in the south-east later this month when the country’s largest Christmas festival gets under way.

Winterval to draw 500,000 visitors

Details of this year’s Winterval Festival in Waterford were unveiled by event ambassador Keith Barry and once again the extravaganza will begin with an official opening on Friday, November 20, by Santa Claus and the mayor of Waterford.

The five-week festival in Ireland’s oldest city will offer more than 30 different events to families, with 18 of those free of charge.

Returning to Winterval will be firm favourites such as the Singing Christmas Tree, Horse Drawn Victorian Sleigh, the free Toy Museum which will have Star Wars and Transformers themes this year, and the Viking settlement.

New attractions will include an exhibit from the National Reptile Zoo, a vintage fair on Ballybricken Green, an ice-slide in the city centre, a winter wonderland garden designed by Bloom gold-medallist Gerard Mullen, a living crib, and a special production of Bad Santa.

A new version of Winterval Illuminates, one of the most popular elements of the festival with a 3D light show projected on to the front of the Old Deanery on Palace Square, will also be introduced to visitors.

“I am delighted to return as the Winterval ambassador for 2015,” mentalist Keith Barry said at the launch.

“My time at last year’s festival created so many wonderful memories for my family and I. There are so many new and wonderful events planned for this year’s festival including new attractions at Ballybricken — a visit is really a must for all the family.”

The Waterford native said he has planned “a very special performance” as part of the Winterval Illuminates light show.

Winterval chairman Barry Monaghan said footfall has been steadily increasing since the event’s inception in 2012.

“This is a festival which is on a comparable basis to the best continental festivals and is now filling what was a huge gap in the market in Ireland for an all- encompassing Christmas festival.”

A full list of all established and new attractions is available on www.winterval.ie

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