From afrobeat to boat cruises: Cork hospitality sector gets creative to ring in New Year 

Having come through the pandemic and into fresh business pressures like inflation, those in hospitality and events sectors in Cork say that being creative is the key to success in 2023.
From afrobeat to boat cruises: Cork hospitality sector gets creative to ring in New Year 

Pictured at the New Years Eve Boat Party with Aye cocktail bar and Cork Harbour Cruises aboard the The Spirit of Doolan was Leah Conway, Laurs Gerathy, Oonagh Pierce, Luoise Raymon and Laurean Fehilly. Picture Denis Boyle

There was a buzz around the streets of Cork on Saturday night, as crowds came out in force to ring in the New Year.

Having come through the pandemic and into fresh business pressures like inflation, those in hospitality and events sectors in Cork say that being creative is the key to success in 2023.

Michael Droney, owner of Crawford & Co, Aye, Osho, Gaia, and Rosie Maddison, says that nowadays people are looking for something extra from a night out.

Tickets sold out for Aye’s New Year’s boat cruise around Cork harbour on Saturday, complete with bar and DJ on board, with crowds heading back to Aye for the countdown.

Pictured at the New Years Eve Boat Party with Aye cocktail bar and Cork Harbour Cruises aboard the The Spirit of Doolan was Minneie Marley, Laura Guiney, Sean Daly and Billy Guiney. Picture Denis Boyle
Pictured at the New Years Eve Boat Party with Aye cocktail bar and Cork Harbour Cruises aboard the The Spirit of Doolan was Minneie Marley, Laura Guiney, Sean Daly and Billy Guiney. Picture Denis Boyle

Mr Droney said that 2022 has been a great year, but that success has required thinking outside the box.

“Necessity is the mother of all invention. You have to bring out your creativity for events like New Year’s night. People aren’t looking for value in the price of a pint or a meal, it’s what you’re getting in the added value - service, music, events,” he said.

“Trading conditions are hard, so you do have to put on events on and work hard at it. It is tough for everybody, us included… but I think that restauranteurs and publicans in Cork are very creative, so I think we’ll all be fine,” he added.

Also attracting New Year’s crowds by offering something different was the Kino, where the dancefloor was filled for a New Year’s masquerade ball.

Co-director at the Kino (along with Chloe Gonzalez), Gilberto Gomes said there’s huge demand for alternative music and events in Cork.

New Year's Afrobeat Masquerade Ball at the Kino, Cork.
New Year's Afrobeat Masquerade Ball at the Kino, Cork.

A successful New Year’s night of afrobeat, hip hop and r&b shows that the appetite for more diverse music offerings in the city, he said.

“There’s really high demand right now to bring diversity to the city… Since we brought the Kino back we do a lot of different things, and I think that’s what has been working for us,” he said.

Having taken over management of the Kino and reopened last February, offering diverse events from Bollywood to Salsa, Mr Gomes says it is a good sign they have been kept going for almost a year now.

“We’re definitely doing something great. Our landlords say that past people never really opened the whole year long, so we have already achieved something,” he said.

In Ballycotton, crowds rang in 2023 at a sold out New Year’s event at Seachurch, with live music from Jack Lukeman, Ruairi De Leaster & Simon Daly, and a DJ into the small hours.

General Manager John Kidney said they tried to offer something special to get people off the beaten track to the city, and boost trade in the seaside town.

Jack Lukeman performing at New Year's Eve party at Seachurch in Ballycotton. Picture: Wayne Forde
Jack Lukeman performing at New Year's Eve party at Seachurch in Ballycotton. Picture: Wayne Forde

With the Bayview Hotel opened especially for the night, along with Cush guesthouse, the Seachurch New Year’s event filled all 40 available guest rooms in Ballycotton.

“New Year’s got 40 rooms into the village. It was a great night, and people were going down to the Blackbird, the Schooner, McGraths, or Cush beforehand having a couple of drinks, enjoying the village as opposed to just the venue,” he said.

Jack Lukeman performing at New Year's Eve party at Seachurch in Ballycotton. Picture: Wayne Forde
Jack Lukeman performing at New Year's Eve party at Seachurch in Ballycotton. Picture: Wayne Forde

Mr Kidney said that in 2023, the plan is to run festivals, a brand new comedy club, battle of the bands, as well as a great lineup of gigs (full info at seachurch.ie), in order to give the venue and Ballycotton a boost, especially in off-peak times.

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