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'We've got Vikings, comedy and opera. Here's why Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny are better than all the rest'

Santa Claus is buried here, it has loads of festivals and the landscape is pretty too, so will it take the prize?

Three Sisters

Each year since 1985 the European Union designates one or more cities as a European Capital of Culture. Croatia and Ireland will host the event in 2020, and have launched their respective competitions. Galway, Dublin, Limerick and the South East are all competing for the title.

We asked each candidate to tell us why their city is so great. Are you from Waterford, Wexford or Kilkenny? Get involved and tell us what you love about your city. Are you better contenders than Galway, Limerick and Dublin – tell us why.

WE COULD TALK forever about why the Three Sisters deserves to be awarded the European Capital of Culture title for 2020.

With the combined efforts of the three wonderful counties of Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny this massively strong bid provides hundreds of reasons why the Three Sisters should be awarded the title.

Here we go:

1. We’re small, but mighty!

We are a small, relatively rural region, which has come together as a partnership to use culture as a means to transform the region and the quality of the lives of the people living in it. Other regions within Europe have very successfully hosted the title of European Capital of Culture and we believe the Three Sisters bid offers a very distinctive proposition for the EU.

Image 2 1,100th City Anniversary Source: Patrick Browne

2. There’s loads on offer in Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny

We’re open, generous and welcoming.

When enjoying the south east our visitors see an abundance of fantastic cultural offerings, vibrant events and people who are friendly and willing to share their part of the world. Volunteering is a deeply rooted, and the amateur arts scene is incredibly strong in our region, giving everyone an opportunity to be involved.

Image 3 Spraoi Festival 2015 Source: Keith Currams

3. Like festivals? We have plenty 

Across Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny we have amazing festivals. Waterford’s street theatre festival ‘Spraoi’, the international Wexford Festival Opera and Kilkenny’s wonderful Arts Festival, not to mention that our festival calendar in the Three Sisters region sees over 150 festivals, large and small, take place annually.

Our festivals draw inspiration from and give opportunities to many festivals all across Europe and worldwide.

Image 4 Film Premiere of ‘Brooklyn’, Enniscorthy, Wexford. Original novel written by Wexford author Colm Toibin. Source: County Wexford Arts Department/Philip Knight

4. Well-known Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny faces are backing us

Plenty of well-known faces hail from this part of Ireland. Our international renowned and award winning authors, playwrights, artists, musicians, actors, dancers and sports heroes are wholly on board to back us and be our ambassadors, champions and advisors.

Through our ‘Culture Cabin’ which travelled all across the region during the summer season, we got great feedback from the people of the southeast and gathered fantastic ideas.

5. Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland

Let’s talk a little about the unique counties within this regional bid and the wonderful aspects they bring to the Three Sisters. 

Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland and is older than all of the Northern European capitals with the exception of London and Paris. Waterford combines its deep historical roots with a thriving cultural offering in theatre, music and street art.

Image 1 Kilkenny Arts Festival 2015 Source: Brian Morrison

6. Kilkenny can combine economics and laughs and make it cool 

It’s gift for combining heritage with ‘what’s hip’ makes Kilkenny an extraordinary festival city. The superb Medieval Week, Roots festival, Savour Kilkenny, Cat Laughs, Kilkenomics (combining economics and comedy… who would have thought!) and of course the world-class Kilkenny Arts Festival.

Image 6 Academy awarded nominated ‘Song of the Sea’. Source: Cartoon Saloon

World class design and crafts are integral to Kilkenny’s international reputation for creativity and are visible throughout the city and county, with examples such as Nicholas Mosse pottery leading the way, and Cartoon Saloon breaking all sorts of barriers with their outstanding work in animation.

Image 7

7. Wexford is home to Ireland’s National Opera House

Wexford is the home to Ireland’s National Opera House. Amongst its year-round calendar of theatre and events it hosts the Wexford Festival Opera every October.

Dr Tom Walsh started the festival in 1951, and it has since grown into the internationally recognised festival it is today. Some of Irelands finest writers have drawn their inspiration from their home county; think John Banville, Eoin Colfer, Colm Tóibín and Billy Roche to just name a few!

Image 5 Waterford’s Viking Triangle Source: Liam Murphy

8. The Vikings and Normans arrived here first

Diversity of language and voices are part and parcel of the south east. Vikings and Normans arrived up our rivers bringing new ideas, skills and words with them.

New migrants into our counties continue to bring an important mix of new voices into our conversations. We are embracing these new words while living through our traditional language – An Rinn is the Irish-speaking Gaeltacht na nDéise area in Waterford and is a vibrant thriving example of how the Irish language is part of our everyday experience.

Image 9 Wexford coastline Source: Brian O Shaughnessy

9. Fresh air, nice beaches and lots to do – what’s not to love?

Our quality of life is second to none – fresh air, long beaches, clean rivers and acres of space (as well as the best weather in the Sunny South East) – the Three Sisters region also offers an abundant ‘outdoors’ culture.

Life is lived on the regions 422 kilometres of coastline, on the Three Sisters Rivers of the Barrow, the Nore and the Suir, trekking in the Comeragh and Blackstairs mountains, on the vast amount of nature trails and adventure courses and in the picturesque rural towns and pretty seaside and fishing villages.

Image 10 (1) Kilkenny Castle Source: Finn Richards

10. We’re ready to party

We are ready! Our cultural practitioners, buildings and spaces, our bid team and our communities are ready, willing and able to present an exceptionally exciting and cutting edge programme for the European Capital of Culture 2020!

To find out more about the Three Sisters 2020 bid, visit the website here. You can also visit the Facebook page and follow it on Twitter

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