Winterval: Ireland’s Biggest Christmas Festival Is Back!

‘Tis the Season…and Waterford’s Winterval Festival will be in celebratory mode for each weekend of the 10th annual festival. In addition to the recurring festival programme of events, there is a once-off festive fun event planned for each weekend from November 18th to December 23rd. The festival has a programme packed with 38 events, 25 of those are free of charge. Here’s everything you need to know to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Meet Santa, Mrs. Claus…and some Naughty Elves

This Friday (November 18th) opens the festivities for Waterford to enjoy Ireland’s first Christmas Parade. It will start at 5 p.m. from the Clock Tower and travel up through Barronstrand Street and John Roberts Square, continuing through Broad Street and finishing at the top of Michael Street at 5.45 p.m. 

The parade will feature highlights of the festival, including the Gerbola Circus, City of Waterford Brass, the cast of Waterford Panto’s “Jack & The Beanstalk”, the new Winterval Mini Express Train, and visitors from the North Pole, including some of the big man’s naughtiest elves, Mrs. Claus and of course, the main man, Santa Claus. When the parade arrives at the main stage, Santa will then officially open the festival, alongside the Mayor of Waterford, Cllr. John O’Leary, and illuminate Winterval by turning on the Christmas lights in the city.

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Don’t Miss the Comic Convention

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On November 27th, Waterford’s newest Comic Convention will take place in the Tower hotel from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. offering a jam-packed day, including special guests, lots of vendors and artists, interactive props and a cosplay competition.

Check Out the Blue Lights Parade

On Sunday, December 4th the Blue Lights Parade will arrive to the city with sirens and lights ablaze as they travel fromBilberry at 3 p.m. and parade down the Quay to the Mall and onto Parnell Street, where it will turn left into Johnstown and into the Waterside car park where they will remain until 8 p.m. As a treat for the Winterval visitors, the emergency service crews will give families a chance to get up close and hop aboard the rescue trucks, bikes, cars, boats, engines and much more. This event is in aid of little Blue Heroes.

On Yer Bike for the City Centre Novelty Cycle

The Jingle Bells Cycling Event takes place on Friday, December 9th at 7.30 p.m. on Gladstone Street. Cyclists are encouraged to wrap up in Christmas jumpers, light up your bike with as many lights as you can handle and take to the city for a gentle city centre novelty cycle. This is a short 2km family-friendly cycle route suitable for ages 6+. To register your group please fill out a form on Winterval.ie before 1 pm on Wednesday, December 7th. This event is supported by Active Cities.

Tractor Parade Lights Up the City

On Sunday, December 18th at 6 p.m. the farming community will join forces to illuminate the city with their sparkling tractors and farm machinery with a fun-filled Tractor Parade set to take to the city’s streets.  Visitors can peer at a Deere, or aspire to be as classy as a Massey as they enjoy the display of shiny tractors and twinkling lights on the Quayside. This event is being supported by Suir Garages, Waterford.

Busk With the Best

The final weekend of Winterval sees BuskAid take place on December 22nd around the city. Professional musicians will be on the streets to raise funds for Tinteán Housing, a Waterford-based homeless charity. BuskAid is Ireland’s first city-wide busk for charity in aid of the homeless. 

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More Winterval Festival Highlights

A full Winterval Festival programme of events will be on offer on the streets and at venues across the city from November 18th to December 23rd. Don’t miss:

  • A gigantic and magical talking postbox with an elf post-collection show each weekend
  • A hall of magic mirrors and a host of free children’s workshops
  • A free shadow puppet show plus the magic lights of the GLOW New Street Gardens.
  • The Winterval Illuminates light show will be on offer every half hour
  • The ice rink on the city’s Quayside
  • The vintage Ferris wheel at Arundel Square
  • A vintage carousel
  • The Waterford Eye
  • The Winterval Mini Express train
  • A virtual ride in Santa’s sleigh plus a Wizard and Dragon interactive exhibition. 
  • Plus there will be Santa Paws for doggies and the Gerbola Circus will be hosting a festive circus show each weekend

Santa will be taking centre stage at the festival in the heart of the city on Broad Street at Santa’s Central Station.

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There will be live music on stage each weekend in Waterford’s Cultural Quarter, featuring a mix of community and professional acts serving as the perfect backdrop to the wonderful Winterval Christmas market set out in a series of attractive wooden chalets through the spine of Ireland’s oldest city into the Cultural Quarter. 

Waterford’s heritage takes a prime position with Déise Medieval—which will host a traditional Viking Settlement. A Winterval by Night programme will be on offer at The Reg alongside their World Cup fan zone, plus Christmas concerts at the Cathedral and music at Waterford Crystal.

Bookmark These For Your Weekends of Winterval!

Ben Hennessy will present a new Shadow Puppetry Show at the GLOW Gardens at Winterval on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings during the festival. Shadow play, also known as shadow puppetry, is an ancient form of storytelling and entertainment, which uses flat cut-out figures that are held between a source of light and a translucent screen. In the beautiful setting of GLOW, Winterval’s fairy light garden in the heart of Waterford City, Ben and his crew will take visitors on a magical journey through a story of childhood imagination. Each show is 20 minutes long and is free of charge.

There will be a free show at the Apple Market each weekend (Saturdays and Sundays at 4 p.m.). Sponsored by WAMA & Theatrebox, the show will engage with young spectators who can take part in the collection of Santa’s post. Let the little elves and helpers from the WAMA (Waterford Academy of Music & Arts) and TheatreBox collect your special lists and drive them off to the North Pole. The post box will snow, breath smoke, blare music, have magical sound effects, and it will illuminate the mirrored ceiling of the Apple Market.

All the children at the show will have a chance to help shrink the gazillions of letters that are stored in the post box so that the elves (on specially commissioned quad bikes with Toby Wagon trailers) can drive away with the post on board. 

Join Winterval’s Resident Storyteller Kitty Cabooble for aselection of songs and stories. Her repertoire mixes classic fairy tales, folktales, myths, legends, songs and tunes to entertain all ages.Kitty Caboodle has been the resident storyteller at the Winterval Festival since 2017 and has also visited many of the city of Waterford schools and libraries to tell her stories.This event will take place atThe Book Centre in John Roberts Square every Saturday and Sunday from the 26th of November at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. This is a free event and booking is not required.​

The Winterval Live Stage will offer 20 Days of Live Performances during the festival. Visitors can kick back to the live musicians, bands, comedians, magicians, and performance ensembles on The Winterval Main Stage on O’Connell Street, in the heart of the Winterval Market. Highlights include music from Deise Brass, High Hopes Choir, comedy from Totally Wired, magic and street performance from Jack Wise and many more. This takes place each weekend of the festival from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free.

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“Notable Works” are delighted to present one of Haydn’s best loved works—his Oratorio “The Creation.”

Music director Dr. Kevin O’Carroll will conduct a choir of over 60 singers, and a 20-piece orchestra including local soloists Roisin O’Grady, Andrew Gavin and Eoin Power.  The music in “The Creation” is positive and uplifting, and is a must-see event within Winterval this Christmas. This takes place at St. John’s Church on Parnell Street on Sunday December 4th. The event starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are €25 and available to book at www.winterval.ie.

House of Waterford Crystal is delighted to present their Annual Winter Music Series which will begin on Saturday, November 19th and will run every Saturday and Sunday until  December 18th.

Take in the Christmas atmosphere as you listen and browse the stunning displays at House of Waterford Crystal’s showroom; enjoy a warming lunch with friends, indulge in a beautiful festive Afternoon Tea or grab a hot chocolate and treat to go at The Crystal Café’s Crepe Station!

The Winter Music Series will showcase the vast range of musical talent we have here in Waterford! With such a wide variety of performers scheduled, from jazz trios, traditional Christmas Carol singers and classical guitar and harp, there will be something for everyone. The series takes place at the House of Waterford Crystal every Saturday and Sunday until December 18th. This event is free and does not require booking.

Garter Lane and BrokenCrow are delighted to present an exhibition of original illustrations inspired by Deirdre Dwyer’s latest audio drama, Seeking Cinderella, from November 21st to December 18th.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a pop-up library from Waterford Libraries, where you can relax, unwind and read to your heart’s content. And on November 22nd we will be reliving the magic of Disney’s original animated Cinderella in two free but ticketed screenings in the theatre. Schools Screening at 10 a.m. and Family Screening at 6 p.m.

The full Winterval Festival programme is available to view and book online at www.winterval.ie 

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