Glow funding was slashed during last year’s city council budget meeting, sparking concerns that this year’s event may not happen. But the Irish Examiner has learned that following adjustments to several internal council budgets, officials were able to confirm in recent weeks that enough money would be in place to stage the event every weekend across December.
Councillors said they were delighted to give the festival, which costs an estimated €140,000 to run annually, the green light again this year.
Featuring a family-focused Christmas-theme park in Bishop Lucey Park, which will be adorned with 10,000 LED lights, as well as a food and crafts fair, a funfair and a giant ferris wheel on the Grand Parade, it will open on December 1 and take place across 12 weekend nights until December 22, with up to 130,000 people expected to attend.
The news comes ahead of the official switch-on of the city’s Christmas lights this Sunday.
Up to 20,000 people are expected on St Patrick’s Street from 6.30pm where 30,000 overhead LED lights have been installed.
Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Fergal Dennehy said the numbers have increased to such an extent that City Hall may have to consider staging next year’s switch-on in phases. He has also asked city officials to consider using elements of the city’s Christmas lights display during events like the jazz and choral festivals.
“I’m not suggesting we use the Christmas lights year-round,” he said.
“But everyone knows the great cheer and joy the lights bring to the city. They add a great atmosphere.
“We, as a city, are very focused on tourism and if we can come up with ideas to put our best foot forward, we should avail of every avenue to make Cork look its very, very best.
“We could use elements of the lights maybe three or four times a year. I think it would add a lot to the city.”
The council has spent just over €280,000 installing and decorating more than 35 Christmas trees — 10 in the city and the rest in the suburbs — as part of one of the biggest and most environmentally-friendly festive displays in recent years.
Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Fitzgerald said the city puts a great effort into Christmas each year.
“A big effort has also been made in recent years to change all our lights to LED so they are more energy efficient, safe and reliable,” he said.
The council has also supported traders on Oliver Plunkett St, Caroline St, Paul St, French Church St, Careys Lane, North Main St and Maylor St with grants of up to €70,000 for lighting. It’s also supporting residents’ associations to light up trees in suburban estates.
Meanwhile, Santa will board a special train at Kent Station at 12.15pm on Saturday bound for Midleton to turn on the town’s Christmas lights at 6pm and launch Midleton Area Chamber’s ‘shop local’ campaign.
The town will host a food market, a funfair and a community street party while the annual Ballymaloe Craft Fair at nearby Ballymaloe Grainstore will be open between 10am and 5pm.