From pantos to ice skating, there's plenty of festive fun in Limerick

LIMERICK is bursting with a wealth of cultural and sporting events taking place over the Christmas holiday period.

LIMERICK is bursting with a wealth of cultural and sporting events taking place over the Christmas holiday period.

Some of the larger department stores in the city are set to open for the first time ever on St Stephen's Day, catering for shopaholics and bargain hunters to sate their appetite earlier than ever before this year.

Panto season kicks off with aplomb in the immediate aftermath of Christmas with CentreStage first out of the blocks on Monday performing their version of Beauty and the Beast in LIT's Millennium Theatre, quickly followed by Limerick Panto Society, who present Snow White on the UCH stage from Tuesday.

The newly renovated Belltable offer something slightly different from Monday, with a quirky take on the story of the Three Wise Men opening called The Fourth Wise Man, which promises to be an entertaining affair for all of the family.

The ever popular Limerick on Ice is open until January 9, offering ice-skating enthusiasts the chance to show off their moves on the rink, which caters for up to 200 skaters at any one time in its Arthurs Quay location.

St Stephen's Night, as ever, is shaping up to be a superb one to celebrate the best in local music, with the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra and the Elective Orchestra hosting a party Upstairs in Dolan's and popsters We Should Be Dead and Planet Parade taking to the stage downstairs in the Warehouse, followed by a Termights club night.

One of the biggest events taking place in Limerick over the next week is the bumper Christmas Racing Festival, which management remain confident will take place in some form, despite the cancellation of racing on St. Stephen's Day.

"The temperatures in Limerick remain at -6 degrees. While we had no snow overnight, the thaw is forecast to arrive on December 26 as opposed to Christmas Eve, which was the original prediction.

"However, the up-to-date forecast should permit racing as scheduled on December 27, 28 and 29 December," said Russell Ferris general manager of Limerick Racecourse this Wednesday following a course inspection.

Meanwhile, the city's biggest department stores are to throw open their doors on St. Stephen's Day, for the first time ever in some cases.

In a major departure, Brown Thomas will open its doors for the first time in its history on the day after Christmas, while Penneys and Debenhams will also follow suit, opening for several hours on St Stephen's Day.

Crescent Shopping Centre have said that the store will not open on Stephen's Day, however.