Thousands set to 'Gather' for New Year's Eve party
DUBLIN will be turned into party central tonight as we attempt to attract the eyes of the world for The Gathering.
A spectacular New Year's Eve countdown is planned with over 45,000 people expected to take part in the celebrations.
A torchlight procession, fireworks display and street concert are likely to show off the city as a tourist destination for New Year's Eve celebrations to media outlets across the world.
Tonight's festival marks the opening of The Gathering and the start of Ireland's EU presidency and will bring an extra 10,000 visitors to the city.
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar was today personally meeting and greeting a group of 70 foreign journalists from the USA, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and elsewhere and introducing them to the festivities.
Ciara Sugrue, Failte Ireland's Head of Trade Marketing emphasised "This is a great event to kick start The Gathering. We are pulling out all the stops. Attractive itineraries for the media have been put together to give a full taste of what Ireland has to offer not just on New Year's Eve but at any time of the year of The Gathering".
The Gathering is aimed at encouraging the 70 million Irish diaspora worldwide to return for a visit in the coming year.
Tonight's celebration kicks off with a People's Procession of Light with fire-breathers and stilt-walkers leading over 260 performers and 1,500 members of the public bearing lanterns through the streets to St Stephen's Green.
There the group will spell out the words The Gathering before a fireworks display.
An outdoor concert at College Green at 9pm will feature Rockabilly star Imelda May with Bell X1 and Ham Sandwich and will count down to midnight, with pryotechnics and light projections onto the facade of Trinity College.
The celebrations continue tomorrow with a Big Brunch at Meeting House Square in Dublin's Temple Bar for families with face-painting, puppet and magic shows and a disco.
Funky trad band Electric Ceili and Vintage Tea Dance are also set to perform.
Dun Laoghaire has its own fireworks display tonight on both piers and in Cork a New Year's Day ceremonial 21 gun salute on Spike Island will mark the first day of The Gathering.