At a ceremony at Torrejón de Ardoz in Madrid on January 3rd, 2024, Waterford was officially recognised as the European City of Christmas 2024 by the International Jury of the European Capital of Christmas.
Waterford was proudly represented by Mayor of Waterford City and County Cllr. Joe Conway, along with his wife Sandra, Finn Brophy, Executive Technician with Waterford City and County Council’s Economic Development Department, and members of Winterval Organising Committee, Trevor Darmody, John Grubb, and Tina Darrer.
In December last year, the International Jury of the European Capital and City of Christmas 2024 competition unanimously voted to award the European City of Christmas 2024 title to Waterford City.
The International Jury, chaired by Prof. Dr. Danuta Hübner, Member of the European Parliament, was impressed with Waterford City and County Council’s submission, citing, ‘The City of Waterford is an extraordinary jewel of Christmas harmony and aesthetics and represents values such as solidarity, which lies with the local communities as well as a strong commitment to its heritage as a hallmark of identity, material and above all immaterial and culture.
On accepting the award on behalf of the people of Waterford, Mayor Conway greeted the judging panel and attendees in Spanish and said, “On behalf of the people of Waterford, I want to say how happy we are to be here in Madrid to receive our recognition as the European City of Christmas 2024.”
He added, “I want to endorse the splendid work done by Waterford City and County Council for their continued faith and support of Winterval Waterford…to our management team, and in particular Finn Brophy, Trevor Darmody, John Grubb, and Tina Darrer from Waterford’s vibrant commercial and hospitality sectors, for their inspiring and diligent work for our lovely city in Ireland’s southeast.
“I wish also, of course, to record our thanks to all involved in the judging of the event and express special thanks to Alberto Gutiérrez Alberca, president of the Christmas Cities Network, who led the creation of the Award in 2017 and the people of Torrejón de Ardoz for their tremendous hospitality.”
Winterval, Ireland’s Christmas Festival, was created by Waterford City and County Council in partnership with local stakeholders in 2012 and is regarded as the country’s premier Christmas festival. The festival concluded on December 23rd, having run for six weeks and enjoyed a ‘record-breaking’ year with 700,000 people enjoying an abundance of Christmas magic and festive family favourites in Ireland’s Best Place to Live.
Michael Walsh, Chief Executive of Waterford City and County Council congratulated the team involved in securing the title of European City of Christmas, saying, “Winterval is synonymous with Christmas in Waterford and Ireland, and now has rightfully been acknowledged as being on a par with European cities of Christmas such as Genoa, San Sebastián, Liège and Valkenburg.
“The input from the Local Authority, the organising committee, stakeholders and the local business community has been exceptional and steadfast, and I would like to thank everyone involved for their commitment and hard work in bringing this prestigious title to Waterford.”
Waterford, now part of the European Christmas City Network, will be assisted in forging alliances with Christmas cities within the network and working with European Christmas cities to share knowledge, experience, and creative ideas.
The European Christmas City Network, which is supported by the European Parliament, was founded to promote the values of European culture diversity, and especially the different and varied Christmas traditions throughout Europe that have transcended in the world.
In addition to Waterford been recognised as the European City of Christmas 2024, Brno in the Czech Republic was recognised as European Christmas Capital, while special mention was given to the small municipality of Almanza in Spain with less than 600 inhabitants.
The International Jury of the European Capital and City of Christmas will visit Waterford in 2024 and plans are already underway to create a festive spectacular befitting of the European City of Christmas title.
For further information about the European Capital and City of Christmas visit www.europeancapitalofchristmas.org