AFTER a two-year absence due to the COVID pandemic, the Rose of Tralee makes its long-awaited return next week.
The event – understandably, due to the impact of the pandemic and two years of lockdowns – will be a slightly smaller affair than in its pre-COVID days, but it still has plenty to offer, with a sizeable line-up of entertainment to suit all ages and tastes.
Obviously the biggest change is the festival’s move from its previous home, The Rose Hotel, to The Meadowlands Hotel and the Munster Technological University’s (MTU) Sports Academy complex.
The Meadowlands will be the main base for the event – which will run from August 19 to 23 – housing the 32 Roses, their respective centres, families and friends and the Rose Escorts.
The MTU, meanwhile, will be the venue for the glitzy Rose Ball that takes place on Friday, August 19, and the two televised selection nights on Monday and Tuesday, August 22 and 23.
The famous Festival Dome is no more, and it will instead be replaced by a smaller marquee venue in the Abbey car park in the town centre, which will be home to a number of paid concerts.
These will include gigs by DJs Fergal D’Arcy and Today FM’s Dec Pierce, who will be bringing his hugely popular Block Rockin’ Beats live show to town.
The mini Dome will also host a number of themed discos and a post-parade party on Saturday night.
There’s plenty of free music included in the line up as well. Country star Cliona Hagan will perform on Denny Street on Monday night, with Mundy taking to the Denny Street stage on Tuesday night ahead of the arrival, from the MTU, of the newly crowned Rose.
In the Town Square, there’ll be free gigs by bands Aftershock , Monroe, Arklight and Renovator; and Geroge Michael and Freddie Mercury tribute acts.
Aside from all that, there’ll be the usual array of street entertainment, stalls, family events and Rose-related exhibitions for the many festival-goers to enjoy.
Much of the family street entertainment during the festival will be provided courtesy of the Féile na mBláth Park Festival, whose organisers have teamed up with the Rose of Tralee to run an extended five-day version of the popular annual Town Park event to coincide with the Rose festivities from August 19 to 23.
Féile na mBláth 2022 will include a huge range of attractions – to suit all ages and tastes – including its trademark flower displays and gardening shows; dog shows; street theatre and music performances; emergency-service displays; recitals; vintage cars; and a food-and-craft village.
Mayor of Tralee Cllr Mikey Sheehy said the festival has become a key event in the calendar in Tralee, and he was delighted to see it expanded to concur with the return of the Rose.
“This has grown into a wonderful community event which attracts many thousands of people to Tralee annually,” said Mayor Sheehy.