Today (Friday 19 November), Waterford’s Winterval festival makes its return, as Ireland’s oldest city is transformed into a winter wonderland. Festive celebrations are well underway and there are plenty of family friendly activities to look forward to.
Waterford Winterval Returns for Christmas Celebrations
The festival will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 12 December, with a week-long celebration from 17-23 December. Here are some of the events we’re most excited for:
Santa’s Grotto: VIPSanta
No Christmas festival would be complete without a visit to the big man himself. Santa waits in his grotto to welcome you back to Winterval this year, and wants to hear all of your Christmas wishes. You’ll be gifted a copy of Irish author Emma-Jean Leeson’s The Adventures of Johnny Magory.
One of Santa’s elves will snap a photo and take it off to the workshop to create a print, snow globe or Christmas ornament for you to take home. Complete the experience with a hot drink and a snack at the Yuletide Café, to warm up those frosty fingers.
Fly with Santa
Every Saturday and Sunday from 27 November – 12 December.
Experience Winterval from a brand new perspective as you fly high on a helicopter ride with Santa. This experience runs every Saturday and Sunday from 27 November until 12 December and is now Covid-friendly. Each family will be escorted through Waterford Airport by one of Santa’s elves.
Don’t be afraid to take some photos of the festival from up above, so you can keep some memories from this unique festive experience. When you land, the little ones will be greeted with a gift and hot chocolate from one of the elves, while the grown-ups are treated to a glass of bubbly.
Waterford’s Winter Music Series
Every Saturday and Sunday from 20 November – 23 December
House of Waterford Crystal will host its annual Winter Music Series to celebrate the holidays through song. With a variety of performers, from jazz trios to traditional Christmas Carolers and classical guitarists and harpists, there’s something new every night.
The House of Waterford Crystal’s showroom will be available to browse while you soak up the Christmas spirit. While you’re there, stop off at The Crystal Café for a bite to eat, some afternoon tea or keep yourself toasty with a hot chocolate. For an extra treat, grab a crêpe from the Crêpe Station.
The Enchanted Garden Winter Light Festival
Every Wednesday – Sunday from 3 December – 9 January
The Enchanted Garden festival coincides with this year’s Winterval, taking you out of the city and into the magical Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens. The drive out is guaranteed to be worth it, as the gardens are particularly striking this time of year.
Step into the Japanese Gardens as they’re illuminated throughout with stunning lights, animal sculptures and tree and foliage lighting. There will be hidden fairy doors sprinkled throughout the gardens, so little ones can feel the magic as they pass. Wander through the enchanted grounds and meet the Winter Fairy before enjoying a hot chocolate or mulled wine by the open fire.
The Winter Palace
17 – 23 December
Bishops Palace Café and Blackwater Distillery team up to create a delightful week of food, drink and festive cheer in the Wonder-Events Marquee at Constitution Square. Begin the evening with tipple of your choice with a sandwich or antipasto on arrival.
Inside the Winter Palace, you’ll be enveloped in the warmth of the festivities, with glistening lights and decorations and a soundtrack of old time Christmas songs and carols. Treat yourself to a little something extra and grab a light snack and a hot drink while you soak up the atmosphere.