Lights on: City set for Christmas magic

Robyn Nolan (8), Sean O'Dornan (11) and Santa get up close and personal with the Reindeer Rodeo, one of the family-friendly offerings at ��Polar Parade�" which opens at 11am this Sunday on The Parade as part of A Very Kilkenny Christmas which commences this weekend. Kilkenny�"s inaugural Christmas festival � A Very Kilkenny Christmas � will open on Sunday with a Christmas procession from MacDonagh Junction at 3.30pm to the Parade before a celebratory turning on of the Christmas lights in Kilkenny. Photo: Pat Moore.
Kilkenny’s inaugural Christmas festival opens this Sunday with a street procession before the turning on of the Christmas lights in the city.

Kilkenny’s inaugural Christmas festival opens this Sunday with a street procession before the turning on of the Christmas lights in the city.

Organisers of A Very Kilkenny Christmas are inviting everyone to join in the festivities and ‘create future memories’ of Christmastime in Kilkenny. A Christmas procession will leave MacDonagh Junction at 3.30pm and make its way down John Street to the Parade. It will be led by St Patrick’s Brass & Reed Band playing seasonal music and followed by Santa Claus.

Bringing up the rear will be the ‘Polar Express’ Christmas train carrying a host of young Very Important Passengers. They will include former patients from the paediatric unit at St Luke’s hospital – all wearing their dressing gowns and Santa hats as featured in the Polar Express movie.

At the Parade, members from Dance Wise Academy will provide entertainment before a ceremonial switching on at 4pm by Mayor Martin Brett of the entire city’s Christmas lights – High Street, The Parade, Patrick Street, Rose Inn Street, John Street and Kieran Street.

Sunday’s opening will also mark the start, from 11am to 7pm, of ‘Polar Parade’ – a series of family-friendly seasonal installations. They include Santa in residence on the Parade in his unique headquarters – a transparent inflatable igloo with LED lighting. A huge Winter Wonderland Snow Globe will allow families to walk inside it and have their photo taken. Other features include a Reindeer Rodeo; illuminated zorbs; Prancer’s Bungee Trampoline Zone; a North Pole Climbing Wall; a bouncy castle and slide, and the Elves Wipeout Zone. A creperie and a hot drinks cabin will provide refreshments.

The Parade’s offering is a result of a collaboration between organisers KCCBA and Kilkenny company Airmax Inflatables and will run from 11am to 7pm on weekends and during Christmas week until December 24. It will be complemented by an entertainment schedule featuring local choirs and orchestras.

“We’re going to deliver a unique magical Christmas experience with custom built inflatable designs, all fully dressed with commercial multifunction led lights that will light up the Parade,” said James Oakey of Airmax Inflatables.

Separately planned seasonal events in Kilkenny, such as the Santa Run, Nun Run, Rothe House’s Christmas Miscellany, Kilkenny Castle’s Christmas programme, Kilkenny on Ice, the Christmas market at MacDonagh Junction and events at the Market Cross will also be listed and promoted under the festival banner.

Starting this Sunday, Kilkenny’s first Christmas train – the Polar Express – will circuit the city from noon to 7pm daily with stops at Kilkenny Castle, High Street and MacDonagh Junction. A full circuit costs €2.50 and tickets can be purchased from the food hall in Kilkenny Design, Crotty’s Toymaster Store on High Street, Lorimat on Kieran Street and the Goods Shed at MacDonagh Junction. Weekends events planned for A Very Kilkenny Christmas also include a gathering of festive Christmas jumpers on the Parade with a prize awarded to the most ‘extreme’ offering; a Christmas treasure hunt through the city with hidden ‘reindeers’ in local shops; a candle-lighting ceremony for Cois Nore, children’s Christmas storytelling; and a ‘12 Flavours of Christmas’ festive food trail throughout the city.

“We want A Very Kilkenny Christmas to be just that – quintessentially Kilkenny and providing wonderful memories of Christmas in Kilkenny,” said Gary Graham, chairman of the festival. A Very Kilkenny Christmas is funded by Kilkenny Borough Council and organised by Kilkenny City Centre Business Association. For more information, visit www.averykilkennychristmas.com.