Council concerts aiming to bring some ‘light and hope’ after difficult year

Council concerts aiming to bring some ‘light and hope’ after difficult year

Concert curator Joanne Quigley McParland.

Matthew Dawson


Matthew Dawson


THIS Christmas, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council aims to bring some ‘Light and Hope’ across the district with two concerts streamed online in the run up to Christmas.

The concerts, curated by international violinist Joanne Quigley McParland, will be hosted by radio presenter John Toal and filmed on location in Down Cathedral, Warrenpoint Town Hall and Killeavy Castle. The ‘Light’ and ‘Hope’ Christmas Concerts will feature homegrown and international talent, many of whom have a connection to the Newry, Mourne and Down area.

The Christmas ‘Light’ concert will be a family friendly performance featuring music from The Nutcracker alongside classic carols Away in a Manger, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Chestnuts Roasting on a Fire and White Christmas. With kind permission of composer Howard Blake, there will be a special performance of Walking In The Air – a wonderful highlight not to be missed.

Christmas ‘Hope’ will be carols from Down Cathedral featuring Sestina Choir, Fews Ensemble, Irish soprano Máire Flavin and award winning Irish pianist David Quigley.

The concerts are to be broadcast on Sunday, 20 and Tuesday, 22 December. Meanwhile, marking the start of the festive season, the Christmas lights were switched on in Newry and Downpatrick on Friday, 20 November.

All Christmas illuminations across the district will be switched on over the next two weeks. The council is placing Christmas lights in Newry City, Warrenpoint, Kilkeel, Crossmaglen, Bessbrook, Hilltown, Camlough, Rostrevor, Downpatrick, Ballynahinch, Newcastle, Killyleagh, Saintfield, Crossgar, and Castlewellan.

Cut Christmas trees are being placed in Newry City, Warrenpoint, Ballynahinch, Jonesboro, Hilltown, Camlough, Silverbridge, Newtownhamilton, Dorsey, Mullaghabawn, Finnis and Gargory, with artificial Christmas trees in Newry, Downpatrick, Newcastle and Kilkeel.

The council also expects to be involved in lighting up to 27 sustainable Christmas trees across the district as well as 224 street trees.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Laura Devlin said: “In many ways this is a Christmas like no other. We want to acknowledge the impact that Covid-19 has had on so many lives while also finding that message of light and hope for better times ahead.

“While we couldn’t hold our traditional Christmas events and light switch-ons, we still wanted to come together as a district, and I hope many will join us from their own homes to watch the upcoming Light and Hope concerts.

“I am delighted we have secured artists of such calibre and proud of the homegrown talent from Newry, Mourne and Down on display.

“As the Christmas lights go on across our district I also want to acknowledge the particular difficulties faced by our retail sector this season.

“Following the latest restrictions announced by the Executive, our Make it Local Christmas campaign will now be launched at the safe and appropriate time. The message from Council is always to shop local and shop safely and this will be emphasised during the campaign.”

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