Waterford has been named the European City of Christmas for 2024 after an international judging panel described the Irish city as an "extraordinary jewel of Christmas harmony". 

The International Jury of the European Capital and City of Christmas 2024, chaired by European Member of Parliament Danuta Hübner, voted unanimously to name Waterford the European City of Christmas for 2024. 

The Irish city will officially be presented with the award and titles at a ceremony in Madrid in January. 

The panel said it was impressed with the solidarity of the local Waterford community in addition to its strong commitment to its heritage and culture. 

"Waterford represents the ultimate expression of creative culture thanks to the great work done with its illuminations and markets.  Just as the streets become the perfect setting when associations, tourists, and neighbors come together in a Christmas experience with its own identity," the jury said in a statement. 

Winterval, an annual Christmas festival that transforms Waterford City into a winter wonderland, will form the epicenter of Waterford's stint as European City of Christmas. 

The festival is expected to attract over 700,000 visitors over the course of six weeks next year and will help "showcase the true meaning of an Irish Christmas". 

Mayor of Waterford City and County Cllr Joe Conway welcomed the decision to name Waterford European City of Christmas for 2024 and said the city had a record to be proud of when it comes to Christmas. 

"When it comes to Christmas celebrations, Waterford City and County Council has a track record to be proud of.  Since its inception in 2012, Winterval has grown to become Ireland’s favorite Christmas Festival, with an abundance of Christmas magic, festive family favorites, and seasonal surprises," Conway said in a statement. 

"Being recognized and awarded such a prestigious title as the European City of Christmas is a wonderful testament to Waterford of Christmases past and how Waterford is best in class when it comes to embracing the magic of Christmas." 

Winterval directors John Grubb and Trevor Darmody said it was a "real honor" for Waterford to win the award for 2024. 

"This award also means that the 2024 festival will be even extra special next year and planning for that is already underway." 

Meanwhile, Brno in Czechia has been awarded the European Christmas Capital title.