LOUISE O'CONNOR ON HOW THE FESTIVAL OPERA CAN BENEFIT LOCAL BUSINESS
THE Wexford Festival Opera has been running since 1951 and approaches it's 60th year anniversary in the coming year. It is hosted in the Wexford Opera House and is a very important occurrence each year in Wexford town.
The Opera Festival will last over 15 days this year and includes three main operas as well as the Opera Scenes and lunchtime recitals. It opens with a spectacular fireworks display, which itself is a major event in the town. Other events are arranged around the festival. For example, the Wexford Fringe Festival, which is the largest annual fringe festival in the southeast of Ireland, is also combined with the Opera Festival. The Fringe Festival has a wide variety of attractions with over 250 events and exhibitions of art. Other such displays are organised around this vital time of the year.
The Opera Festival is a huge event in Wexford town and is of enormous benefit to the economy of Wexford. In purely financial terms the benefit to the town is estimated to exceed €25 million. The town is very well known for its culture and the festival provides a key selling-point. It acts as a major attraction for people looking to enjoy culture and art. It attracts tourists form across the globe to attend the productions available during the festival.
Many tourists take this opportunity to stay in Wexford for a three day weekend. While in Wexford these tourists stay in Wexford's hotels and guest houses, eat out in local restaurants and avail of the wide range of shops in the town. In fact, during this time of year, Wexford can certainly claim to be the most commercial town in Ireland, in terms of occupant rates and in terms of retail spending. All the while these people are putting money into Wexford's economy and providing business for local entrepreneurs.
One of the unique aspects of the Festival is that it attracts visitors who wouldn't necessarily visit Wexford for any other reason. Opera music tends to attract people who are interested in the finer things in life, such as fine food and wines, art and culture. These people admire quality an Wexford contains may businesses that can cater for their needs. Because of it's proximity to Christmas, the Festival provides a wonderful opportunity for visitors to choose festive gifts in relaxed surroundings whilst at the same time indulging themselves in the wonderful music that the town has to offer.