Waterford Skyfest kicks off weekend


ALL EYES will be on the Co Waterford skies this evening as the centrepiece of the St Patrick’s Festival, the National Lottery Skyfest fireworks display, takes place on the city’s quays

More than 50,000 people are expected to gather on the banks of the River Suir for the event. “It’s a huge day for Waterford, there’s a great buzz around the place and we have a range of activities for everyone,” Mayor of Waterford Jack Walsh said.

The Skyfest, which will be accompanied by music from Kila and DJ Mark McCabe, begins at 6.30pm.

The sky is a common feature in national holiday festivities across the country this year, with “Cosmic Chaos” the theme for the Cork festival and “The Sky’s the Limit” for celebrations in Dublin.

The Cork festival is celebrating the UN International Year of Astronomy and a NASA astronaut will be at Blackrock Castle Observatory to assist sky-gazers in a star count on Monday.

Dan Tani, who has become Ireland’s “adopted astronaut” following his marriage to a Cork woman, will be on hand to guide the public through some of the sights he saw during his stint on the international space station.

Limerick will host two parades, with a host of marching bands from home and abroad taking to the streets tomorrow as part of an international band parade ahead of the traditional event on Tuesday at 11am.

Thousands of spectators are expected to turn out to see the Army Band lead Sunday’s event, where they will be joined by The Adrian Wilcox High School Band and “The Black and Gold Regime” from California.

In Dublin, a troop of Australian artists will bend over backwards tonight in an attempt to raise the public’s spirits as part of the city’s St Patrick’s Festival celebrations.

The Spheres, a mixture of dance, theatre and circus performances, presented by the Strange Fruit company from Melbourne, is one of a host of events scheduled for the capital in the coming days to mark the national holiday. A programme of free concerts and debates, walking tours and a treasure hunt have also been arranged.

Funding for the festival was cut by 8 per cent this year to €1.2 million. However, organisers say the public will not notice the difference because of the creative and innovative approaches taken in festival planning.

“It’s challenge to introduce new and fresh elements to the festival every year, but we have been working hard to invigorate our audiences,” St Patrick’s Festival chief executive Donal Shiels said.

Sleuths, aspiring detectives and murder-mystery fans are encouraged to take part in the Denny Treasure Hunt, registration for which is open at City Hall from 10am to 1pm today. Tomorrow, the Denny Big Day Out, described as an oversized playground for adults and children, takes place at Merrion Square.

The highlight of the festivities is still expected to be the St Patrick’s Day parade and organisers expect Tuesday’s event to attract more than 500,000 people. More than 2,000 performers will take part in the parade, which will be broadcast on RTÉ 1 and streamed live on www.rte.ie.

Meanwhile, Belfast is promising a colourful carnival atmosphere for the whole family to enjoy on St Patrick’s Day. The carnival procession, with the theme “Legends, Myths and Stories”, will leave City Hall at noon on Tuesday.

This will be followed by a free concert at Cuistom House Square featuring X-Factor contestant Eoghan Quigg, Bréag and percussionists Torann.