It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…With a month to go, Galway is positively bursting with Christmas lights and decorations.
The city centre has been revitalised this year with new ‘curtain’ of lights along High Street and Quay Street, courtesy of The Latin Quarter, and a revamp of the Christmas Market, complete with a Ferris Wheel that gives breath-taking views of the city. And once again, Galway City Business Association’s sparkling Christmas lights around Eyre Square and Shop Street.
They’re all welcome additions to the city and have certainly made people appreciate just how pretty Galway can be; the city must have been the most ‘Instagrammed’ place in the country last week.
Yes, the Christmas Market has its problems and its critics, primarily regarding the location and the number and make-up of stalls. It’s brilliant to see local businesses like Spiddal-based Rí na Mara and Man of Aran Fudge exhibiting in the market, and it would be wonderful to see more there. The Local Food & Craft Gift Fair at the Black Box at the weekend showed just how much local talent and produce is out there.
But anything that brings people into the heart of Galway is to be welcomed; the place was hopping on Monday night, a freezing cold winter’s evening that would ordinarily have been quiet. Instead, it was filled with squeals from the Ferris Wheel, a few hundred people belting out ‘Fairytale of New York’ from the Bier Keller, and tourists snapping selfies at The King’s Head.
Attracting, and keeping, tourists and locals alike into town requires the local authority and local businesses working together to develop initiatives that add something special to Galway, like the festive decorations and the thousands of other projects, festivals and events that take place around Galway throughout the year.
That’s why it’s so disappointing to see the council introducing a parking fee on Sundays. We want people to come into the city centre and, as city businessman Jimmy Griffin points out on page 6, there’s a real possibility that people will vote with their feet and avoid town if there’s an added charge for them to so.
It’s heartening to see Galway bustling in the lead up to Christmas, but post-Christmas, it’s even more important that local businesses are supported. It’s a small thing, but a re-think of the parking charges would seem like a charitable thing to do at this time of year…