'It’s brilliant to have it on our doorstep, so people don’t have to go to Dublin, or wherever — there is everything they need in Kilkenny.'
There has been a marked increase in interest and visitor numbers at Kilkenny’s Yulefest Christmas festival year on year.
However, there is still potential to attract the 20s/30s age demographic, with more than three in every four visitors to the Yulefest website over the age of 45. At the October meeting of Kilkenny County Council John Cleere and Paula Lawler gave a presentation to the members on the festival’s progress.
Mr Cleere said that 15% of those on the existing email list had already purchased tickets for this year’s events.
The website had 17,600 unique users in 2017, and this almost doubled last year to 32,500. Online sales were €16,500 in 2017, increasing to €25,000 in 2018.
Mr Cleere said that 85% of those who visit the site are female, and 75% are over 45. He said the festival needed to consider how to appeal to a younger market as well.
There are potential gaps in food and retail offerings, while events reaching out to rural towns, such as the festival of light in Castlecomer are important. Mr Cleere said website activity showed there was already interest in the festival prior to Hallowe’en. Sales are estimated to reach €60,000 by the end of the year.
Last year, there were 84 different events during the festival, and there will likely be around 100 this year.
“This festival is working in terms of bringing visitors to Kilkenny,” said Ms Lawler.
There will be a spotlight on sustainability this year; the festival has teamed up with ReCreate Ireland and Cartoon Saloon to transform selected shop fronts in to storyboards through the use of recycled materials. Ms Lawler also said the festival was working with Kilkenny Leader Partnership.
“We’ve asked them to get on board and get the reach of the festival out to the county towns,” she said.
Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council Peter ‘Chap’ Cleere said it was great to see the numbers on the rise.
“It’s a fantastic festival, and it’s going from strength to strength,” he said.
“It’s brilliant to have it on our doorstep, so people don’t have to go to Dublin, or wherever — there is everything they need in Kilkenny.”