Christmas has been unwrapped at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park as one of the region’s top festive experiences gets underway.
The annual Christmas event is celebrating 20 years of operation, with over 31,000 people expected to visit the 26-acre site for this exciting festive event.
Part of the DNA of County Clare, the event creates seasonal employment in the local community, with 50 additional staff enlisted this year to help create this magical experience.
Commenting on the extensive preparations that go into the annual event, Susan Murphy, General Manager, Shannon Heritage said: “We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and passionate team at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park who have worked tirelessly to prepare the park for this special event. It’s a labour of love for them with preparations beginning as early as June.
“A massive amount of planning and commitment has gone into the event from ensuring our light display is energy efficient, to building all our props in-house. It has been a hive of activity here for months, from early morning to late at night. Seeing the excited faces of our visitors who travel from across the region and beyond, makes it all worthwhile.”
Visitors of all ages will have the chance to create magical memories at the park’s popular events comprising - the Trail of Lights Experience, A Winter’s Tale Christmas Show and Breakfast with Santa.
Santa’s elves have been busy once again, creating a magical illuminated festive trail of lights across Bunratty Castle and Folk Park where 45,000 energy saving LED light bulbs have been used to create a spectacular site.
Along the route, visitors can meet a host of colourful festive characters, take a ride of the Bunratty Polar Express train, walk through the new tunnel of lights feature, take a whirl on the Folk Park’s magical carousels, and see the traditional nativity scene. They might even catch a glimpse of the big man himself, as Santa makes a whistle-stop visit to the drawbridge of Bunratty Castle.
Taking place in An Teach Nollaig located in the heart of the magical surrounds of Bunratty Folk Park, “A Winter’s Tale” offers a live theatre and dinner show is a festive flair. A candlelight four-course festive feast, complete with a wonderful arrangement of classic and contemporary Christmas carols, along with poetic pieces, and musical compositions.
Making a welcome return is the popular “Breakfast with Santa Experience”. Visitors can say hello to Santa as he welcomes them into his Christmas kitchen. Participants will enjoy a sing-along with himself, Mrs Claus and their elves as they get up to all sorts of antics!
Christmas is a time for giving, and the Giving Tree at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, is an incredibly special initiative which was introduced in 2020. Donated gifts left under the tree will support the Children’s Health Foundation, one of the Shannon Heritage’s chosen charities for 2022. The charity supports sick children and their families at Crumlin, Temple Street, Tallaght and Connolly hospitals.
Mike Glynn, Bunratty Folk Park Seanchaí, and one of the original cast of the Christmas experience team said: “Christmas at Bunratty is really the most magical time of the year and it has been a privilege to watch the experience evolve over the years. For me, a Bunratty Christmas is not about the presents, it is about that special time a family get to spend together.
“For the past 20 years I have seen the same families return year after year, I simply adore seeing how the children have grown up over the years, with some of them even returning with their own children in more recent years. Some of the children know my stories so well, they can even recite them back to me! Although we have beautiful lights and wonderful rides, what makes Christmas at Bunratty so distinctive is that it is a true celebration of times past, and we pride ourselves on keeping many of those traditions alive.”
The Christmas Experience will operate daily until the 23rd of December. For more, including bookings, visit www.bunrattycastle.ie/christmas