Waterford's 9th Winterval festival has begun!

Santa made a quick visit to Waterford city centre last night to turn on the lights on the largest Christmas tree in Ireland. Standing in St. John Robert's square at over 50 foot tall, it also features one of the largest stars in the land.

He was helped by Mayor of Waterford Joe Kelly who said he was delighted to meet the visitor from Lapland, and kick off the festive season in Waterford.


The lights ceremony was held to mark the start of Winterval, which begins today. It runs on 19 days spread from today (Friday Nov 19th) until Thursday Dec 23rd over the first 4 weekends (Nov 19-21, Nov 26-28, Dec 3-5, Dec 10-12) and then a final weeklong run (Dec 17-23).

The festival includes, five citywide themed Festive City Quarters, the brand new Ar Ais Le Chéile Irish living language area, the Petstival zone filled with doggie delights and pet programming, the hands-on Kids Lab-Land STEAM and science hub, festive food and craft markets, live music and arts performance, and a plethora of free and ticketed entertainment for kids and adults, families and friends.


It's  laid out over five City Quarters, and include the Continental Christmas Market Quarter (John Roberts Square / Broad Street / Michael’s Street), Elfstival Festival Family Quarter (Arundel Square), The Ever-Greenway Quarter (The Apple Market), Christmas Cultural Quarter (O’Connell Street) and the much-anticipated Winterval Wonder-Events Quarter (The Viking Triangle).

Aoibhe Walpole meets Elf on the Shelf. Picture: Patrick Browne

Make sure to visit Elfstival’s Giant Elf and post your special letters in Santa’s Giant Postbox,whirl and twirl on the children’s amusements rides, indulge in some tasty treats and of course make sure to book in to meet Santa at his grotto and tell him your christmas wishes at VIPSANTA at the city’s Old Postal Sorting Centre on The Quays.

This weekend, Petstival takes place between 12 and 5 on Saturday and Sunday. There's  agility skills with the DSPCA Dog Training Team who will also be there to help with dog training advice.  The Customs Dog Unit will be there where you can meet some of the real life Doggie Detectives and see the important work they do and how they do it with live demos. Have your dog or new puppy microchipped with a DSPCA Vet who will also be giving advice on any pet health issues. Those who are looking to add a furry friend to the family, will have the chance to meet dogs who are looking for forever homes in the Waterford Animal Welfare Doggy Adoption Parade.

Subsequent weekends will include special themed events exploring the Irish language, STEAM events, and WAMA-palooza.

See the full programme of events and booking details at