herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Shutting down lights switch-on event early 'the right thing to do'

Some 20,000 people packed onto Grafton Street
Some 20,000 people packed onto Grafton Street

Christmas light concert organisers say there will be no disruption at their next big event in Dublin after their flagship gig on Grafton Street had to be shut down early amid safety fears.

The headline act for this year's Christmas Lights Ceremony was cancelled on Sunday evening because the event was in danger of overcrowding, with close to 20,000 people in the area.

The issue meant headline act Hermitage Green, led by former Ireland and Munster rugby player Barry Murphy, could not perform.

Dublin Town CEO Richard Guiney told the Herald that turning the lights on early and cancelling the entertainment was the best option in the circumstances.

He said the turnout surprised organisers, and thinks it was down to a number of factors.

"We had our safety plan and, when we got to the point of having greater numbers, we proceeded to turning on the lights directly, which was the right thing to do," Mr Guiney said.

"When we began it was around 13,000 to 14,000 but, as the entertainment was progressing, I think there was about 20,000 and that's when we said, 'Look, this is more than we've planned for'.

Successful

"I think the weather was very mild and people stuck around for it. The other thing is that we have been quite successful in terms of repositioning the city in terms of Christmas," he added.

Mr Guiney is convinced the next big Christmas lights event, which will be held on Henry Street on Thursday evening, will go off without a hitch.

He said the fact that street is a lot wider than Grafton Street, combined with it being a midweek event, will make a big difference.

"It can cope better with crowds and it's Thursday evening rather than Sunday," he said.

"We'll be more comfortable with numbers. It's an easier space to operate and it's easier to cordon off than Grafton Street."

Sunday's large crowd means a new plan will be needed for next year's Grafton Street lights event. However, organisers don't intend on people having to pre-book to attend.

"We'll take on board that the nature of the event we've held for the last few years has probably outgrown the Grafton Street space," he said.

"I'm not going to pre-empt what comes out of our discussions, but we'll look at the whole event and see what is the best thing to do in that space," he added.

The Christmas lights event on Henry Street will be held on Thursday at 5pm.

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