As dusk fell on November 30th, Waterford City transitioned into a vibrant spectacle of light and colour with the official launch of the “City of Lights” project.
An initiative by Waterford City and County Council, funded by Fáilte Ireland’s Urban Animation Investment Scheme, this innovative project is set to illuminate the city’s iconic buildings and medieval walls at 19 strategic locations, promising a transformative experience for residents and visitors alike.
The “City of Lights” is a ground-breaking project designed to strengthen Waterford’s position as a key tourist destination. By creating a trail of light connecting significant historic attractions and city zones, Waterford invites adventurers and culture enthusiasts to discover the city’s rich heritage. The illumination of buildings along the trail aims to extend visitor stays into the evening, capitalizing on the enhanced beauty and ambiance of our historical sites.
The light trail connects the four main areas of the city: the historical Viking Triangle, the vibrant Apple Market and City walls beyond, the retail spine, and the Cultural Quarter. This luminous trail unites these diverse districts, inviting all to explore their unique charm under the captivating glow of the night.
Speaking at the launch of this exciting project, Mayor of Waterford City & County, Cllr. Joe Conway said, “As we unveil the 'City of Lights' today, we're not just switching on lights; we're illuminating a new chapter in Waterford’s storied history. This project is a testament to the Council’s dedication to heritage and innovation, casting our ancient city walls and architecturally noteworthy buildings in a transformative light. It’s shining a spotlight on our city's charm and inviting the world to wander our streets anew.”
Director of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland, Orla Carroll said, “We’re so pleased to see the launch of the spectacular ‘City of Lights’ trail today. Animating urban areas is essential to transforming and re-imagining our public spaces as safe, welcoming and vibrant places to visit. Fáilte Ireland’s ongoing work in partnership with Waterford City and County Council focuses on developing new and unique reasons for people from at home and abroad to visit Waterford, and ‘City of Lights’ is a perfect example of this. Experiences like this will encourage visitors to stay longer, spend more and immerse themselves in the history, heritage and culture of Ireland’s oldest city.”
Understanding the importance of safety in urban exploration, the “City of Lights” enhances the sense of security for those venturing after dark. The strategically placed lighting fixtures not only serve to showcase Waterford’s architectural marvels but also contribute to a safer, more inviting night-time environment.
With the night-time economy in mind, this scheme unlocks the potential for new nocturnal tours and experiences. Visitors are encouraged to roam the illuminated pathways, engaging with the city’s stories and spaces in a novel way. The programmable lighting infrastructure also promises an array of visual spectacles during city festivals, ensuring that every visit to Waterford can offer a new and exciting narrative.
A Canvas for Innovation and Collaboration
Moreover, the "City of Lights" isn’t just a static display. It's an opportunity for innovative projector designs that can evolve throughout the year. Collaborating with artists, these projections promise a dynamic canvas, where creativity and storytelling merge, offering a constantly changing visual narrative for all who traverse the city's illuminated paths.
Project Manager with Waterford City and County Council, Ali Jay, added, “The 'City of Lights' represents a pivotal moment for Waterford, blending technology, history, and artistry. Our team has meticulously designed this trail of light to create immersive experiences, connecting the city’s historical treasures with the present. Through this trail, generously backed by Fáilte Ireland funding, we’ve created a view into our rich past and vibrant present, promising a brighter future for all of Waterford. This project will extend visitor engagement and enrich their experience into the evening hours. It’s a step towards a dynamic, safe, and visually appealing urban offering.”
Illuminating Heritage: A Beacon for History
Beyond the aesthetic enhancements, the “City of Lights” stands as a beacon, drawing attention to Waterford’s underappreciated historical assets. From the 15th century Beach Tower to the prominent French Tower, each beam of light serves as a tribute to Waterford’s storied past, bringing awareness and appreciation to the medieval city walls and other venerable structures.
As Waterford prepares to shine under the “City of Lights,” the Local Authority, alongside Fáilte Ireland, looks forward to welcoming all to a brighter and more resplendent urban experience.