Waterford unveils Tall Ships plan


The visit of the Tall Ships Race to Waterford this year is set to create Ireland’s biggest summer festival in 2011.

Among the headline acts lined up to celebrate the arrival of the race are Sharon Shannon, The Waterboys and O Emperor, with magican Keith Barry the star attraction at the launch event on June 30th.

More than half a million people - some 250,000 of them from outside the southeast region – are expected to visit the city for four days of the ships’visit from June 30th to July 3rd. The festival is expected to generate an estimated €30 million in increased business.

Announcing a “legacy provision” of a new multi-million euro jetty capable of accommodating the tall ships, and later cruise vessels, in Waterford, Fáilte Ireland chairman Redmond O’Donoghue compared the event to the Volvo Ocean Race visits to Galway.

Noting the efforts to broaden the visit into a fully fledged festival along the themes of entertainment and food, he said he believed the Tall Ships race would be “a talking point for many years to come”.

The entertainment line-up will see the Waterboys perform on Friday July 1st. Also performing on that night will be the band O Emperor. Sharon Shannon, with guests Damien Dempsey and Dessie O’Halloran, will take the stage on Saturday, July 2nd. Magician Keith Barry is the star attraction at the launch event on Thursday, June 30th.

A programme of free events is also planned, including street acts, comedy and nightly fireworks displays. An artisan food village will also be set up.

Des Whelan, chairman of the festival, said anticipation and expectation in Waterford is huge following the securing of big name acts for the weekend. “We still have one more act to announce and are in the final stages of negotiations with a renowned, international star. Our goal is to offer as broad an appeal as possible over the festival, putting on an event that really offers something for everyone,” he said

Fáilte Ireland has also made a significant contribution to the event in terms of funding and marketing support, and a festival office has opened in the former tourism offices on the quays. Mr O’Donoghue drew attention to the new M9 motorway linking Dublin and Waterford and promised visitors “conscious of value and cost” would find a one-day or short break with lots of attractions laid on for free.

A website waterford.tallshipsrace.ie has also been set up.