This is the weekend we have been waiting for all year. All the planning and preparation will now be put to the test. Will the weather be kind? A few showers are possible but, overall, it looks fine though it won’t be too hot. Will the traffic plan work as well? Car parking charges may deter local people coming in over three days but the new motorway and road infrastructure will see many more outsiders coming in to fill up the spaces. Waterford now has much easier access and this will be proved.

The music line up sounds excellent covering all tastes. There is also much art and theatre as well as a great food festival along the streets. These are all great attractions apart at all from the ships themselves which will look majestic along our noble quays.

We hope the local pubs, restaurants and the hotels will do well in what has been a lean year to date. This might mark a stage in Waterford’ s economic recovery and a way of painting the city in a good light. We note some people have revised prices and we saw one business person walk out of a premises on Tuesday after the menu had changed with higher prices. Hopefully this will be limited.

It may show some desperation on behalf of some traders as they struggle to pay bills and rates. We heard of one who is relying on this weekend to get enough just to pay the rates bills. Hotels are gone to rate card as opposed to discount prices which is normal for festivals or sports weekends in Dublin. For those who do not want to pay the higher prices, there are less expensive options available.

We can all recall the Mardi Gras atmosphere that was apparent six years ago. We would love to see the same again when citizens and visitors took the occasion to their hearts. Everyone was friendly as if it were Christmas time, meeting friends and neighbours.

Finally, we would urge a word of caution. A growing crime problem may see some opportunists take advantage so keep homes safely locked as well as cars and watch personal effects as the Gardai have suggested. The Gardai will have a tough job over the next few days and we wish them well. We would also wish the crews of the ships a hearty welcome and thanks to the committees for all their great work over the past year or two. Best of luck also to the entertainers who will keep the public amused over the coming days.