'Mary' Christmas! Mary FitzGerald, Queen of crafts to launch Yulefest Kilkenny

Sian Moloughney

Reporter:

Sian Moloughney

Email:

sian.moloughney@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny Kilkenny

Mary Fitzgerald to open Kilkenny Yulefest

The Yulefest Kilkenny Christmas festival returns to celebrate its fourth year and in 2019 is offering a bumper six week festival running from November 22 to January 6.

There’s a firm focus on sustainability running throughout the festival programme this year and TV personality, re-use advocate and Kilkenny native Mary FitzGerald will be officially launching the festival in Kilkenny City on Saturday, November 23. 

Yulefest Kilkenny is a curated and inclusive Christmas festival that welcomes visitors and locals to enjoy and participate in a range of high quality, festive events in Kilkenny City and County throughout the festive season. It has quickly emerged as a go-to Christmas festival for all the family and received a listing in Skyscanner’s Guide to the Best Christmas Festivals in Ireland 2018. 

Official switching on of Kilkenny City’s Christmas lights takes place on Saturday evening 23rd November at The Parade, Kilkenny City with Mary FitzGerald and Martin Brett, Mayor of Kilkenny. Expect a festive atmosphere with appearances from Santa Claus, Star Wars characters, Fionn the friendly Irish Wolfhound and mascot for the 3rd Infantry Battalion, singalongs with The Lady Desart Choir & Musical Society and surprise guests. See www.yulefestkilkenny.ie for more details. 

All ages are invited to enjoy a wide range of free and affordable seasonal events added weekly throughout the Yulefest Kilkenny festival. Focused on families, Christmas catch uppers, day-trippers and festive aficionados, all can customise their Christmas visit at yulefestkilkenny.ie The website showcases all events and facilitates online event bookings as necessary so festival goers can create personal, festive itineraries to enjoy at their own pace. 

As part of this year’s festival over 600 primary school children in Kilkenny took part in reuse workshops, made possible by a creative collaboration between Yulefest Kilkenny, social enterprise ReCreate Ireland and four time Oscar® nominated Kilkenny based animation company Cartoon Saloon. Selected shop fronts in Kilkenny will be transformed into magical storyboards through the end use of the workshop’s recycled materials. The windows will tell a story and passers-by will be encouraged to follow the journey to learn about the city and sustainability in a fun and engaging way. 

Paula Lawler, Yulefest Kilkenny Festival Director explains the aspiration of the festival. “We have developed Yulefest Kilkenny to be an inclusive and curated festival. At the heart of our programming is inclusiveness, accessibility and fun! Also during the festival ReCreate Ireland will be addressing sustainability and accessibility by delivering sensory sensitive workshops as part of our sensory friendly events. These sensory workshops are funded by Creative Ireland under the Kilkenny Culture and Creativity Strategy 2018-2022, in partnership with Kilkenny County Council. All details can be found on our website yulefestkilkenny.ie. A key feature of our festival is community connectivity work, supporting local business and welcoming a diverse audience; local, regional, national and international, everyone is welcome to participate in the wide range of activities and enjoy what the festive programme in our beautiful city and county has to offer during this special season.” 

Mary FitzGerald, former TV presenter and host of RTE TV’s ‘How Do You Do?’ a make and do children's arts and crafts programme adds: “I am delighted to be returning to my home city to officially launch the Yulefest Kilkenny festival for 2019 and to share the message of reuse through arts and crafts. It is a creative way to explain to children about reusing and recycling and to encourage them to use their imagination. Children are also great teachers in terms of their concern about global environmental issues. I would encourage all children and their parents to make some of their Christmas presents this year such as Christmas cards, wrapping paper and gift tags, homemade chocolate bonbons, biscuits or candles. After the festive season is over, I would ask everyone to re-use and recycle the cards, wrapping paper, boxes the toys and presents came in and all the jars and bottles that accumulate over Christmas. That way you will be playing your small but significant part to help the environment and make 2020 a more sustainable year for all of us. Together we can demonstrate that Christmas can be as simple and as fun as we decide to make it.” 

From the craft side to the dark side, a big hit last year was the appearance of StormTroopers and related characters from Star Wars. Many will be delighted to hear of the return of the Jedi to Yulefest Kilkenny as the 501st Ireland Garrison, an all-volunteer organisation who give up their time to promote interest in Star Wars through attending community events/costumed charity will return to raise funds for charity. Catch them in Kilkenny on 14th & 15th December. See yulefestkilkenny.ie for further details closer to the time. 

The festival is brimming with festive mood enhancers, from hotel gardens festooned with toy soldiers, reindeer and light installations to vintage carousels offering nostalgic whirls, to an engaging arts, music and family events social calendar. The festival programme has been designed to appeal and be accessible to all ages.

Expect to see lots of opportunity to engage with the festival right throughout the county as Kilkenny Leader Partnership support the facilitation of additional workshops which further extend the reach of the festival in to the wider county. Check website for more details as events are confirmed. yulefestkilkenny.ie

Easy to get to and easy to get around, Kilkenny’s walkable shopping streets, casual and award winning dining, seasonal events and festive lights provide the perfect atmospheric backdrop for elfies and selfies. 

Yulefest Kilkenny Featured Events

The Festival of Light, Castlecomer: Participate in The Parade of Light, carols and much more for celebration of community, creativity and Christmas. 29th November, Free
yulefestkilkenny.ie/event/ festival-of-light-castlecomer


Medieval Mile Run: All ages and all abilities invited to run, walk, jog or hand cycle on closed city streets. Coordinated by Kilkenny Recreation & Sports Partnership, with PRL supporting charity Pieta House. 29th November. Free (untimed) / €11 timed.  yulefestkilkenny.ie/event/ krsp-yulefest-kilkenny- medieval-mile-run


The High Hopes Choir & Carlow Ukulele Players: Fun, upbeat performances which also double as a fundraiser for The High Hopes Choir. 7th December, tickets from €5.  
yulefestkilkenny.ie/event/the- high-hopes-choir-carlow- ukulele-players


Vladimir’s Viennese Christmas Gala: With the Jablokov family from Slovakia, tenor Sean Costello, soprano Margaret Keys, 25-piece orchestra and 50-piece choir. 12th December, tickets from €35.  yulefestkilkenny.ie/event/ vladimirs-viennese-christmas- gala


Star Wars: Young and old will delight in the return of the 501st Ireland Garrison, Ireland’s only Official Star Wars costuming club. 14th & 15th December, free, collection for charity on the day. Details to be announced closer to the time yulefestkilkenny.ie/all- events/family-events


Ronan Tynan: A fantastic opportunity to see Ronan Tynan perform in his home county in the new year.  4th January, tickets €30   yulefestkilkenny.ie/event/ ronan-tynan

This is just a flavour of what you can expect from this curated Christmas festival in the fun sized city this year!  See yulefestkilkenny.ie for more details.