WITH the Christmas decorations consigned to the attic for another year attention has now turned to April as Mallow gears up for the return of the Racing Home for Easter Festival.
Now in its fourth year, the festival has a firmly established reputation as one of Cork's 'must attend' events, attracting thousands of people to the town each year to savour its unique atmosphere.
One notable change to this year's format is that the festival will be extended from three to five days from March 30, to mark Mallow's participation in The Gathering.
While full details have yet to be unveiled, festival chairperson Mary Kelly promised the event would be "bigger and better" than previous years.
"Last year the festival saw a spend of €750,000 within the local economy. This year we are aiming to top the €1 million mark," said Mary.
"This is the only event in Mallow associated with The Gathering and while there's no doubt that hosting a five-day festival is a much bigger challenge, the committee has been working very hard to put a diverse programme of events together to showcase Mallow's sporting, cultural and literary heritage," she added.
The Cork Racecourse will be a hive of activity over the Easter weekend, with three days of top class racing.
Meanwhile, events planned for the town over the festival include a music and performance showcase, the return of the popular Sunday food and craft fair, plus plenty of family focussed entertainment.
Festival 2013 will also see an increased emphasis on Mallow's rich history and heritage. This will include literary trails and talks covering subjects as diverse as Canon Sheehan, Mallow Castle's famous protected white deer and the history of Mallow train station.
Organisers are also working on an exciting new addition that will complement the theme of this year's festival - Horsepower.
Manpower is something the committee is also keen to focus on, with Mary calling for volunteers to help out over the duration of the festival.
"We have been working closely with students from Davis College, who have really taken our festival under their wing, but we are also making the call for extra volunteers to help out over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, if even just for a few hours," she said.
To find out more about becoming a volunteer contact Eamonn Kiely at Mallow Chamber on 022 55660.