Festival in capital to ring in year of the Gathering and term at helm of EU
With a spectacular New Year’s Eve countdown planned for the capital, tonight marks not just the second NYE Dublin festival but the opening of the Gathering and the start of Ireland’s EU presidency.
Borrowing from Scotland’s Hogmanay celebrations, a festival estimated to be worth £30 million to Edinburgh alone, NYE Dublin organiser Fáilte Ireland is expecting an additional 10,000 visitors to the capital.
While the invasion of Eurocrats that comes with Ireland’s EU presidency is expected to give the capital’s coffers a shot in the arm, the Government is hoping its invitation to Ireland’s 70 million-strong diaspora will spread the love worldwide.
Aiming to banish the shadows of criticism including that from actor Gabriel Byrne, who described the Gathering as an attempt to “shake down” the diaspora “for a few quid”, its opening event tonight will be bathed in light.
Wending through the city centre from Suffolk Street from 6.30pm, a People’s Procession of Light will include fire-breathers, stilt-walkers and lantern and LED light bearers. As it culminates at the gates of St Stephen’s Green at 7.45pm, the 260 performers and 1,500 members of the public who registered to participate will spell out the words “The Gathering” to invited international media, including NBC and CNN.
Though “a little bit worried” about forecast winds, organisers promise the 8pm Big Bang fireworks display over St Stephen’s Green will be fun for all the family before an over-18s alcohol licensed countdown concert kicks off from 9pm.
Taking to the stage at College Green will be homegrown talent Bell X1, Ham Sandwich and Imelda May. The countdown to the new year will feature pyrotechnics and light projections on the facade of Trinity College.
Speaking yesterday, NYE Dublin project manager Rory McCarthy said ticket sales for the €20 a-head 12,000 capacity concert were good. “Last year we sold out on the day; we hope we sell out today but currently there are still a few thousand tickets available,” he said.
Little folk – for whom the midnight countdown is way past their bedtime – can save their energy for tomorrow’s Big Brunch. Kicking off at 11am in Temple Bar’s Meeting House Square, free family entertainment includes face-painting, games, puppet and magic shows and a children’s disco.
From 1pm, funky trad band Electric Céilí will be banging out some toe tappers, and dancers – accomplished and novice – will be encouraged to step it out. If the céilí frenzy hasn’t exhausted you, the Vintage Tea Dance from 3pm with tunes from the Charleston to the twist should.
Dún Laoghaire will put on two fireworks displays tonight, the first at 6pm on the Carlisle Pier and the second over the East Pier at midnight.
Salute to the New Year
In Cork, a New Year’s Day ceremonial 21-gun salute on Spike Island will mark the first day of the Gathering 2013 in the county. It’s the first time such a salute will be fired from Cork Harbour in almost 30 years.
Derry will kick off its year as the UK City of Culture this New Year’s Eve with a fireworks and pyrotechnics show, and music events. Shortly before 7pm, the city over the River Foyle will light up.
“From 6.30pm church bells across the city will ring out, calling people to join in the celebrations, and from 6.50pm the show will commence,” said Derry City Council’s marketing officer, Jacqueline Whoriskey.
“The show will place the Peace Bridge and the River Foyle centre stage and conclude with the sounds of the shirt factory horns to welcome the new year.”