WINTERVAL’S new Festival Director has promised some new additions for this year’s festival in addition to traditional favourites. Tommie Ryan, who began his association with festivals and events when volunteering with Spraoi aged 14, has been involved with Winterval in the past in a production role. He has worked with EveryEvent for a number of years and has served as Director of the successful Waterford Harvest Festival. Tommie says he is keen to ensure Winterval retains its reputation as ‘Ireland’s Christmas festival’.Despite increased competition from other Christmas festivals, he is confident that Winterval is still leading the charge. “The Winterval programme which has been developed over the years is incredibly strong but we need to add to it and stay at the top of our game,” he said.
He is keen to bring new elements to the festival but also wants to build on what has already been achieved to ensure Waterford maintains its position as ‘Ireland’s Christmas capital’. “Having well over half a million visitors to Winterval is a huge achievement. We need to keep that going and grow it,” he said. In particular, he would like to increase the engagement between Winterval and community groups in Waterford. As part of the new additions to this year’s festival, he promises “something special” for Wyse Park which he describes as a “hidden enchanting garden”.
While Ballybricken is not included this year, Tommie hopes the area’s inclusion as part of the schedule of events can be looked at in the future.He points to Ballybricken’s success as part of the Harvest Festival programme as an indicator of what can be achieved.
Visitors to this year’s festival can look forward to the traditional Winterval favourites – some of which will have a new look. Momentum Events based in Kilmacthomas will take over the running of Santa’s Grotto this year and will deliver a “completely new experience” according to Tommie. Following last week’s presentation at the September plenary meeting of Waterford City & County Council, Tommie says he is very happy with the feedback which has been received. “Councillors as well as business people and anyone I’ve been dealing with so far in this role have been incredibly positive,” he said. “People in Waterford want to see Winterval work and are aware of the good it brings to the city.” This is the seventh year of Winterval in Waterford and Tommie says the festival is now synonymous with Christmas for an entire generation of children in the region. “Winterval is part of their Christmas and they couldn’t imagine Christmas without it which is a great achievement,” he said.
This year’s festival runs from November 17th to December 23rd. For more information visit www.winterval.ie.