Previous Christmas events in Kilkenny
Plans are being put in place to save Christmas in Kilkenny in the face of the many unique challenges posed by Covid this year.
Following lockdown and now restrictions, many local retailers are under pressure like never before, and for many, the traditionally-busy Christmas period may be make or break.
The staples of the season — busy streets, bustling shops and bringing people together — are somewhat at odds with the recent messages of staying home and social distancing. Finding a balance between the two may prove critical.
At last week’s meeting of Kilkenny County Council, chief executive Colette Byrne said the council was discussing Christmas and engaging with Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce and local traders to come up with a plan.
“It is going to be challenging,” she said. “We will have further discussions to see what is possible. We are looking at what we can do in the current climate.”
Ms Byrne said she was very conscious of how important the Christmas trading period is to many retailers and the necessity of bringing people into Kilkenny around Christmas. In recent years, Kilkenny’s Yulefest has played a role in attracting footfall to the city and towns with an array of events, displays and initiatives.
It’s understood that some other festivals such as Winterval in neighbouring Waterford will proceed in some form, and there is a fear that shoppers will go elsewhere if something is not provided here.
Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick asked if there was any way of doing something to help towns around the county given the challenges faced.
“People are saying we won’t have Christmas as we know it, but maybe we can give communities and the scheduled towns some kind of a lift,” he said.
Cllr John Brennan agreed: “The towns and villages are important,” he said. “In Castlecomer we have the wellie race every year. I can’t say whether, due to Covid, that will go ahead this year.”
Meanwhile, council director of services Mary Mulholland confirmed requests for funding had been made for a shop local campaign and a Christmas lights project. It’s understood the lights project is now going forward to Kilkenny Leader Partnership’s evaluation board for decision.