You know the feeling, it’s early December, the Christmas tunes are on every radio station, the shops are full and every business known to man tells you that they’ve “got the ideal gift this Christmas”. You’ve bought lots of presents, got the Wise Man costume for the five year old, have the turkey ordered, have considered writing Christmas cards, have eaten a few (dozen) Quality Street, but you’re not feeling Christmassy yet. That was me this morning.
Then we went to Winterval and all that was fixed. I’m Mrs Christmas now. It’s lovely.
Winterval started last year as a Christmas festival around Waterford City, and to be honest when I read about it I was skeptical about the concept. I was wrong, I am totally sold.
I had a good look online last night and booked a “sleigh” ride in advance (it’s a horse drawn tram style carriage, with outdoor seating on top up a twisty tall staircase and more sedate indoor seating below) and otherwise we were freestyle.
We parked on the Quay and walked up to the Carousel (wow!) where the boys got their faces painted (Santa and a clown) and we continued toward the Mall where there are some Christmas market stalls in lovely little wooden cabins (they’re selling snacks mostly, and hats) and the Singing Christmas Tree, where choirs give performances- check out the timetable.
There’s also a life size snowglobe that you can go into and have your photo professionally taken (we didn’t).
The sleigh ride isn’t cheap at €6 per adult and €5 per child midweek (prices are more expensive at the weekend, great idea) but we really enjoyed it and considered it worth it. The route brings you from the Helter Skelter opposite House of Waterford Crystal on the Mall along the Quay, up Barronstrand Street and back to where you started, taking about 15-20 minutes. The downside: as Cathal noted, “horses smell like horse poo”.
The boys both decided that they wanted to go on the helter skelter (a very tall twisty slide- €2 per slide) and climbed all the way up to the top, but Cathal decided at the top that it was too tall for a three year old and climbed back down the stairs.
The highlight was the Lightshow, set to music, with a Waterford Viking theme and projected onto a building in an enclosed square. The boys were mesmerised. Don’t miss this- times available on their website.
Winterval is lovely, it’s the essence of Christmas. It brings people into the city for reasons other than shopping, there’s loads of free events and it’s well put together- little things like there are bins everywhere, there are loads of staff everywhere to ask questions, and people are in good humour. The key attractions are spread out so you weave your way through the city centre. It’s bringing life to the place. Check out their site, they’ll tell you the stuff they want you to know, I’m just passing on the bits that we liked.
Now, have I got a reason to go back again before the season is out?