The summer will be noisily and colourfully waved in across the May Bank Holiday weekend in Limerick as the Shannonside city becomes the focus for the first major national festival of the year.
Riverfest 2018 is set to draw over 85,000 to the banks of the Shannon for the biggest celebration yet in the 14th year of a festival that has made this first summer bank holiday weekend of the year its own.
The festival is a carnival of activity and variety, all based around the great waters of the majestic Shannon, with much of the high jinks on river itself.
Visitors will travel from across the 32 counties and many also from abroad for a four day celebration that includes everything from high-octane water based activities across the weekend to the country’s biggest fireworks display of the summer, its largest BBQ cook-off, celebrations of food and fashion, outdoor and indoor concerts and, of course, the Bon Secours Hospital Great Limerick Run.
Among the major new attractions this year will be the first ever visit to Ireland by the Seabreacher Shark – a dare-devil ride all the way from Queenstown, New Zealand an 18ft ‘shark-craft’ that can travel at speeds of up to 80km per hour, soar 18ft high out of the water, dip up to 5ft under the water, do side rolls and doughnuts.
The water based activities for the Limerick Strand Hotel Riverfest on the Shannon will also involve a free Double Zipwire across the Shannon, Water Zorbing, Kayaking, and a social swim that will have hundreds getting a different perspective of the great river.
At quayside there will be annual favourites such as The Riverfestival Village, at Arthur’s Quay – a weekend long cacophony of foods, crafts, vintage amusements, street performers and live musical entertainment.
The Limerick Food Experience in the Garden of the Hunt Museum will showcase the best quality, locally produced food and drink that Limerick has to offer while the Saturday will also see one of the annual high points of the festival take place as Ireland’s largest BBQ cook-off takes place with teams representing cuisines around the world competing for honours.
Fashion Friday at Arthur’s Quay will be hosted by Ireland’s leading fashion stylist Celia Holman-Lee and showcase the latest trends from Limerick’s top fashion houses and designers. The weekend’s ‘Big Gigs’ will include Jack L on Saturday night and Bell X1 at the stunning King John’s Castle – one of Ireland’s most unique concert venues.
Sunday’s Bon Secours Hospital Great Limerick Run, which is Ireland’s fastest growing participatory event, is another of the top features of the weekend, drawing an anticipated 13,000 people for three events – the full marathon, half marathon, 6 mile. It will also have the HOMS Fittest Company, an Expo at UL on Saturday where the UL Sport Children’s Run for Fun will also take place.
Riverfest 2018 is delivered by Grooveyard Event Management on behalf of Limerick City and County Council and partners include The Limerick Strand Hotel, Mr Binman, Limerick’s Live95FM, Arthur’s Quay and Limerick.ie.
Looking ahead to the event, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Stephen Keary said: “Limerick is a city very much on the up and Riverfest is a reflection of this. It has grown and grown as a festival over the years to become not alone the biggest gathering in Ireland of the May Bank Holiday weekend by far but also one the biggest Irish summer festivals. Limerick is the largest urban centre on Ireland’s largest river so it’s only right that we would turn to it for a celebration like this.”
Said Sheila Deegan, Culture and Arts Officer with Limerick City and County Council, “The continued development and investment in Riverfest shows Limerick’s desire to grow our visitor offering. Riverfest is one of the civic festivals delivered by Limerick City and County Council to bring the May Bank Holiday Weekend to life in the city and celebrate the river. Festivals are an important way of bringing us together to share and learn about ourselves, our culture, our heritage and give confidence and voice to creative expression of all kinds. The recent investment by Limerick City and County Council into festivals is testament to the belief that they can create a sense of belonging as well as impact on the social and economic life of Limerick.”
Said Laura Ryan, Head of Marketing and Communications, Limerick City and County Council: “We’ve had a very long winter, that very much consumed the spring but we’ll be putting all that behind us with Riverfest. It’s a brilliant mix of different elements and, most of all, offers something for everyone. The fact that the last act that many who come here for the festival do as they depart is to book again for next year says a lot about Riverfest. It’s a great time for Limerick and this festival is a weekend long celebration of that.”