LIMERICK is gearing up for a busy June Bank Holiday weekend with several high-profile festivals and events taking place.
The sneaking suspicion has always been that while the masses stay around for the May Bank Holiday weekend with Riverfest and the Great Limerick Run holding interest, its June counterpart offers less. No more.
Thanks to City of Culture funding in some cases and the endeavour of its citizens in others, Limerick has plenty to offer this Whit Weekend.
A choral festival, a food carnival, a street festival, live chamber orchestra and ballet and a rugby sevens tournament are just some of the many events taking place in the city this weekend.
The Limerick Sings festival expects to attract some 300 choristers to the city for a wide programme, the centrepiece of which is a an evening of choral music in St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday night.
The concert, which opens with the Lassus Scholars from Dublin, is just part of a wider programme of events organised by the Association of Irish Choirs Conference in collaboration with festival organisers, a collaborative group representing the hotels, local music interests and the University Concert Hall.
Up to 300 choristers from Ireland and America are descending on the city for a weekend of workshops, expert talks, concerts and choral delight.
The excellent TomCat street festival returns for another outing this year, the brainchild of local businesses on Thomas and Catherine Streets.
Expect comedy, theatre, music, film, walks and talks, garden parties, food demonstrations, interactive art installations, tea parties and much more from Thursday through to Sunday.
The official launch of the festival will take place in the new biodiversity garden, situated at the junction of Thomas and Anne streets, on Friday at 5.30pm, followed by a Walkabout History Tour with Sharon Slater.
There is a huge line-up of events taking place, with musical performances from Duke Special, Norman Jay and many more.
Whetting appetites at the weekend will be the first ever Culture & Chips festival, which will crown the world’s first chip champion, among an eclectic line-up of events.
The Salon Perdu Spiegeltent, described as the ultimate cabaret and music salon which has played host to luminaries as diverse as Bill Clinton and Marlene Dietrich, has been installed in Arthur’s Quay Park, with events running until Monday.
Nigel Dugdale of the festival organising team – who have been backed by City of Culture funding –explained: “It is a superb Art Nouveau style Spiegeltent with a capacity to hold up to 400 people standing,” he explained.
“We have confirmed acts like Jack L as well as a locally produced Cabaret and a magnificent Culinary Banquet. All of these events will take place in a setting never before seen in Limerick,” he added.
The world chip championships - a free event - will take place on Saturday from 2-5pm, with a selection of cooks ready to produce the world’s best chip.
“Nothing like this has ever happened before, Limerick is going to crown the first world chip champion, the judging panel will be very fair, and it is up to everybody to produce the goods on the day and to produce them with love,” explained the Mustard Seed’s Dan Mullane recently, one of the judging panel for the event along with Masterchef’s Nick Munier, Lorraine Fanneran of La Cucina and well known local man Fergal Deegan, formerly of the Leader and now advertising manager with Live 95FM.
Other events include a Culinary Carnival Banquet, Cabaret des Frites, Clown Noir, Salon du Chat, and Limerick’s own Brad Pitt Light Orchestra, who will wrap up proceedings in the Spiegeltent on Monday night.
The Irish Chamber Orchestra and Ballet Ireland perform in the Milk Market this TFriday, for a major production of Carmen, which is now sold out.
And more than 20 rugby teams from all over Ireland will gather in LIT for the inaugural RugbyLAD Sevens Festival on Saturday and Sunday, with Hermitage Green set to perform at an open air concert as part of the festivities on Sunday night.
A festival village will be located in the Moylish college’s grounds on Saturday and Sunday, with three leagues offering spectators plenty of action throughout the two days.
Dublin cover band Smash Hits will also perform, while a barbecue and grill will take place during the day. Limited places are still available for teams on www.rugbylad7s.com.