Winterval festival in Waterford continues to grow

Pre-Christmas footfall in Waterford city centre up over 50 per cent on 2013

This year's Winterval festival in Waterford was the most successful to date, building on the success of last year's event which brought an additional €14 million into the local economy in the run up to Christmas, the organisers have revealed.

This year’s festival which ran for five weeks up until December 23rd brought an additional 500,000 pedestrians into Waterford city centre, marking a 52 per cent increase in footfall on last year.

Winterval CEO, Sinead O'Neill Hartery said what was particularly pleasing about this year's festival which featured 32 separate events as well as a Christmas market with 60 traditional log cabins, was the broad range of visitors that it attracted.

"This has been a phenomenal Christmas in Waterford, we have had visitors to Winterval from far and wide. Through the ticket office calls came in for bookings from Sligo, to Galway, to Cork, Kerry and Dublin, really it's all over Ireland, " she said.


"Indeed we also have had an increase in the number of international visitors too, one family who come to mind in particular were in Ireland from Australia, they were travelling the country and came to Waterford twice, especially for Winterval."

A study last year commissioned by the organisers found that the 2013 Winterval provided a €14 million boost to the local economy in the run-up to Christmasin the process creating some 550 seasonal jobs as well as multiple indirect jobs.

According to Ms O’Neill Hartery, the event, now it in its third year, looks set to build on last year’s success.

"The peak weekend was November 29th and 30th when279,058 pedestrians traversed the city centre and this coincides with our Winterval Ambassador, Keith Barry performing his 'Magic on the Mall' event which proved hugely popular," she said.

Chair of Winterval, Barry Monaghan paid tribute to the team behind the festival, saying that festival ticketing for the various events was up by an average of 60 per cent compared to 2013 as he highlighted the tourist benefit of the event to Waterford.

“Our ambition from the outset for Waterford city was to take ‘ownership’ of Christmas in Ireland and we are well on our way to achieving this and further growing business for Waterford and a tourism product in what is typically a non-tourism season in Ireland.

“We are also pleased visitors acknowledged Winterval has more to offer than just a Christmas Market and we are confident the vast majority of families who visited this year will come back again next year and spread the word about the magic that is Winterval.”

“Each year we carry out independent research and analysis and put this to use to grow and develop the festival. Next year will be no different, we will look at what did and didn’t work well in 2014 and use this knowledge to make the 2015 festival even better.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times