Rising up above the Shannon, and giving a taste of what the public can expect from Riverfest 2016 is Ken O’Connell
AFTER several years of turning its back on the river, Limerick’s main festival is now facing back onto the majestic Shannon.
The countdown to Riverfest 2016 is now under way following a launch event at the Curragower Bar on Clancy’s Strand by Mayor Liam Galvin this week.
Taking place over the next Bank Holiday weekend, from Thursday, April 28 to May 1, Riverfest is expected to provide a multi-million euro boost to the city’s economy.
Hundreds of people are expected to take part in what will be Ireland’s largest outdoor barbecue at Honan’s Quay, while up to 13,000 people will compete in the Great Limerick Run, race director John Cleary confirmed this week.
The centrepiece of the festival, the popular barbecue competition, set for Saturday, April 30, will take place in Honan’s Quay (outside the old Dunnes Stores), while the focal point will be a festival village at Arthur’s Quay Park.
This will allow for free entertainment on the Shannon in front of the river, with World ‘Flyboard’ Champion Gemma Weston, plus British freestyle jet-ski champions Graig Halloway, Chris Ames and David Herridge providing entertainment.
Elsewhere on the Saturday, the Coronas will play a live gig at King John’s Castle.
Meanwhile on Sunday, the sixth annual Great Limerick Run will see thousands pound the streets – and many more come out to watch and cheer.
Musical entertainment later in the day will come from Hermitage Green, who will play live at the Big Top in the Milk Market.
And Riverfest 2016 will come to a close with a spectacular fireworks display over King John’s Castle.
Alan Long of Grooveyard Productions, which runs Riverfest on contract to Limerick City and County Council, says: “If the weather is fantastic, it will be the best weekend in any city in the whole year.
“We are bringing the festival down to Arthur’s Quay. We want to congregate it into one area. We want people to experience the river, so we will have live entertainment from 2pm every day.”
Mayor Liam Galvin added: “What I would say is: ‘Come for the run and stay for the fun’. The events taking place for this festival reminds us why Riverfest sells our hotels every year and is such a popular event attracting a huge variety of people.” While the main events will take place across the Saturday and Sunday, the fun actually gets under way on Thursday, April 28.
From 2pm, the Riverfestival village will be set up, while there will be a lunchtime show by the Ma Classic String Performance Showcase at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.
Fashion Friday will return to the city, at Arthurs Quay Shopping Centre, while the UL Arena will on the same day play host to an expo on the Great Limerick Run ahead of the race itself.
Sheila Deegan, the deputy director of Limerick’s bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2020 said: “Festivals play a distinctive role in providing a place for citizens and visitors to interact in a celebratory way.
“Festivals like Riverfest, also have the power to touch us all, to give us an opportunity to be part of openness to ideas, to be curious about art and culture, to enjoy and to wonder and we hope that everyone enjoys truly this year’s eclectic festival line up,” she added.
It is the first time in a number of years Riverfest has truly focused on the river.
In recent years, Denmark Street has been the venue for the barbecue, while events on the banks of the Shannon have been minimal.
The organisers – who are no doubt praying there is not a repeat of last year’s heavy downpours – are printing some 10,000 leaflets and will post information out to houses across Limerick.
The line up for the event is continuing to evolve: more information is available on Facebook, Twitter and at www.limerick.ie/riverfest.
Alternatively, you can telephone 061-407100.