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Boosting Kilkenny’s Evening Economy

Fáilte Ireland recently hosted a workshop in Kilkenny, where local tourism businesses explored the potential of the city and county’s evening economy in creating compelling visitor experiences and driving greater spend.

Over 25 tourism businesses and organisations, as well as Kilkenny County Council, joined the Ireland’s Ancient East Evening Economy Development Workshop at the Pembroke Hotel to develop a suite of evening experiences for the area.

The focus was on identifying entertainment and hospitality opportunities between 5-9pm which appeal to a wide audience, and have the potential to encourage visitors to stay in the area for longer, which will in turn drive increased footfall and visitor spend.

The event was the first in a series of Fáilte Ireland evening economy development workshops taking place across Ireland’s Ancient East over the coming months.

Kilkenny is already a well-established visitor hub in Ireland’s Ancient East and, with a variety of cultural assets, is recognised by Fáilte Ireland as an area which has major potential to grow its evening economy in a way that complements its heritage and cultural offering.

Over the coming months, a plan will be created which will look at the current evening offering and how it can be enhanced, as well as the opportunities and challenges being faced. It will also seek to challenge misconceptions around having a more diverse evening economy, by showcasing the success other cities such as Edinburgh in Scotland and Nantes in France.

Justine Carey, Ireland’s Ancient East Manager at Fáilte Ireland, said: “The evening economy provides a major opportunity to present a more diverse offer for visitors from around the world, be it through the arts, walking tours, free events, and local food and drink experiences as well as exhibitions, pop-up events and existing attractions staying open later.

“Cities which really stand out for their cultural offering have a vibrant evening economy which is often centred around heritage and storytelling, both of which are core to our Ireland’s Ancient East brand. Kilkenny is already recognised as a great place to visit in the evening – that’s why we’re exploring how we can bring together its rich culture and heritage, as well as its variety of venues, restaurants and bars, to develop a really outstanding evening offer that appeals to locals and overseas visitors alike.”

Fáilte Ireland has identified a number of key principles in developing a successful evening economy, which were discussed at the workshop, including:

  • Building partnerships to diversify the local economy – with the visitor (and local) in mind, and sharing intelligence to support a coherent strategy
  • Changing perceptions in terms of safety, visitor movement and understanding of what is available – creating opportunities for a wide range of visitors to come into town (and outlying areas) in the evening-time
  • Innovative thinking, specifically in relation to publicly funded or publicly owned spaces and their use beyond the norm
  • Coordinating stakeholders and activities – bringing together stakeholders from local restaurants, leisure activities, cultural and heritage spaces, music venues, retail and commercial supports, e.g. transport linkages and parking, to coordinate and cross-promote activity

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