Christmas in Kerry officially began last Saturday in Listowel with an unprecedented crowd turning out for a fantastic Christmas Market and official lighting of the Christmas tree. The theme was the Spirit of Christmas with the entire event coordinated and planned by Listowel Business & Community Alliance. Businesses dressed their windows with elaborate festive displays throughout the week in advance of the big day.
Anticipation for the event had been building throughout the town and online in the weeks leading up the big day with regular Social Media updates including the now unmistakable Listowel branding, the work of local branding expert Meave Queally of Some Studio.
So by the time the day arrived, the buzz was palpable across town from early morning at Parkun. By 3pm when sound engineer Stephen O’Connor blasted Last Christmas from the stage to test the sound, the crowd had already began to build.
When the market finally opened at 4pm, queues had formed at a number of the fifteen stalls spilling right up to St Johns Theatre where the stage was located. It was here Listowel Business & Community Alliance Chairperson Rose Wall welcomed everyone before handing over to local band Nitelife. Featuring Listowel music stalwarts Dobs O’Brien and Stephen O’Connor the band blasted through a blistering set with tracks for young and old. Frontman Tom O’Brien encouraged young members of the audience to take part in an impromptu dance competition, they were duly rewarded for their efforts with treats provided by Garvey’s SuperValu. As dusk fell the twinkling lights from each of the stalls created a feeling of being transported to Berlin or Frankfurt such was the atmosphere within the market itself.
Families gathered and watched proudly as the boys and girls of Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail and Presentation Convent Primary took to the stage and gave special performances under the leadership of their principals Seana Quane and Ann Brosnan. At 5:30pm Cathaoirleach Lios Tuathail Jimmy Moloney presented the prizes to the winners of Listowel Business & Community Alliance Schools Art Competition. Runners up received fantastic prizes from Jumbos Listowel, Emma Larkin Books and Classic Cinema Listowel with the overall winner receiving a bicycle from O’Sullilvan Cycles located in the Square. The competition was judged by local artist Olive Stack of the Olive Stack Art Gallery located on Main Street. Nitelife regrouped for a final set before the tree was officially lit at 6pm. Rose led the crowd in the countdown and the honours of lighting were carried out by five of Listowel’s finest traders who all appeared in the 2019 Retail Excellence Top 100 achieving national recognition for the high standard of customer service offered in Listowel. Lizzy from Lizzy’s Little Kitchen, Jennifer from Coco Boutique, Ken from McKenna’s, Nick from Listowel Garden Centre and Pierce from John R’s Foodhall. As the switch was flicked “All I Want For Christmas” blasted from the speakers and the crowd erupted.
“The event was planned with young and old in mind and there really was something for everyone. The little ones had endless fun with kiddie rides from Showman Amusements, face painters, Disney Characters including The Grinch and even a surprise visit from the man himself; Santa.” Rose Wall Chairperson of Listowel Business & Community Alliance.
The festivities went on well into the night with late shopping at a number of businesses across the town followed by live music in the bars ensuring an unforgettable day and night for the people of Listowel and the many visitors who came into town especially for the event.
“The success of the event was possible due to the support from local businesses and organisations including Manager of Listowel MD Joan McCarthy, Kerry County Council, Maire Logue at St Johns Theatre, Listowel Tidy Towns, Christy Walsh, Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail, Listowel Presentation Convent Primary, The Moriarty Family, An Garda Siochana, Alliance Event Planner Colette O’Connor and the exceptional Alliance volunteers from the committee itself.” Rose Wall, Chairperson of Listowel Business & Community Alliance. “We now look forward to a fantastic few weeks in the build up to Christmas with Super Sunday still to happen on December 8th, and there will also be individual events including Garvey’s Super Valu Festive evening on Thursday December 5th between now and Christmas Eve. Follow Listowel Business & Community Alliance Social media to keep informed.
Pictured: Listowel Business & Community Alliance Chairperson Rose Wall addressing the crowd