Thousands of people thronged the streets of Limerick as the city's favourite granny helped spark some festive cheer.
Some 12,000 people - children, parents, people from neighbouring counties - flocked to the city centre for the switching on of the Christmas lights this evening.
The 'Christmas in Limerick' spectacular capped a stunning year of theatre and performance across Limerick.
The was produced by Big House Productions, who were also project directors of the biggest street carnival in Ireland this year – the September hosting of the Royal de Luxe extravaganza that attracted 250,000 people to Limerick to see the 25ft tall Granny in the high point of celebrations for its National City of Culture status.
And the giant granny sent a special message for the start of the 45 minute performance which started with the opening of a Christmas Card to the people of the city and county from Limerick’s favourite woman herself.
Crowds were also captivated as flying elves put the finishing touches to the city’s 40ft tall tree and sprinkled magical Christmas dust across the crowds as the 14,000 metres of Christmas lights were switched on.
The magical event featured spectacular performances by Fidget Feet Aerial Dance and Realta and was hosted by actor Louis Lovett, who also acted as translator for ‘Granny’ in September and read out her special card to the people of Limerick. Such were the crowds that traffic on O’Connell Street was stopped for 40 minutes as the throng spilled up onto lower Thomas Street.
The event was commissioned by Limerick City Business Association at Limerick Chamber, in partnership with Limerick City and County Council, as part of a three year plan to transform Limerick into Ireland’s leading destinations for Christmas shopping and short-breaks.
"It has been an incredible evening, the biggest and most fantastic launch to what is going to be our best ever Christmas in Limerick. We see Limerick City centre as one of Ireland’s biggest shopping centres and this year we have more retailers than ever open for Christmas so it’s only right that we would put on a show like this,” said Helen O’Donnell, Chairperson of Limerick City Business Association at Limerick Chamber.
Children and parents were spellbound by the display, not least the sight of elves dangling 90ft above the ground.
Limerick City Mayor Michael Sheahan said the event was an open invitation to people from Limerick and beyond to come and enjoy what’s on offer in the city this Christmas.
“This was a fantastic treat for the thousands who came in. To see the delight and amazement on the faces of young children was such a joy. That’s what Christmas is about and we are starting as we mean to continue as this evening only set the tone for a very special Christmas in Limerick. The festivities continue from here, right up to and including Christmas Eve.”