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Waterford Spraoi Festival

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It was a great Bank Holiday Weekend in Waterford as we (Patrick, me and, now, my mom) were able to experience our first Spraoi (pronounced “spree”) Festival.

What’s the Spraoi Festival, you ask? Well, for the past 21 years the city of Waterford has been attracting street performers from around the world to come and show off their stuff over the August Bank Holiday Weekend (beginning on Friday and ending Sunday evening). It’s similar to the Halifax Busker’s Festival, which is always a great time and features some spectacular street performances every summer in Nova Scotia, where I’m from.

Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral

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Knowing what fun the Halifax Busker’s Festival can be, I didn’t want to miss out on the Spraoi Festival in Waterford. My mom arrived from Canada last Wednesday and I thought it would be a great introduction to Irish summer festivals and Waterford City itself, since it involved a lot of street wandering.

The city was so busy and full of life all weekend! It was a great atmosphere. If I wasn’t nine months pregnant I would have divided my time between watching street performances and sipping pints outside the pub, watching all the action unfold. Next year.

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On Friday evening, we parked down on the quay and worked our way up Henrietta Street, catching street performances all along the way. The performers worked with each other to ensure they weren’t all playing at once, which was great as you could watch one performance, move on a bit and then catch the next one from the very beginning.

The City of Waterford Brass Oompah Band was playing on the quay, so they were the first group we came across. As we walked up the hill, we came across several more artists including performers from the Dublin School of Flamenco, Hooks and Crookes (a male singing group specializing in sea shanties – they were phenomenal!) and Geraldine Dunne, a fabulous cellist. The weather was lovely and it was such a fun and relaxing way to spend a Friday evening in the city.

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There were events going on around Waterford City all weekend, but we missed out on Saturday since the weather was so sunny and warm – we took my mom around the Copper Coast Road instead of staying in the city.

The quay on Sunday night

The quay on Sunday night

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Sunday evening ended the festival with a great parade, which went straight through the city, and one of the best fireworks displays I have ever seen. It was the perfect send-off.

This year was special as it was Spraoi’s 21st birthday, but I’m sure next year’s festival will be just as wonderful. The city, although congested, was very well organized with volunteers working together with city officials to ensure things were running smoothly at all times. I never felt overcrowded or unsafe with so many people around, although finding parking on Sunday night was a bit annoying.

The annual Spraoi Festival has officially been added to my list of reasons to love my new home. Thanks to all who worked so hard to make it happen!

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