Over five million people who have been to the Rose of Tralee International Festival since 1959 are being invited to return for an extended Rose Gathering from August 14-20 this year.

The 2012 Rose of Tralee, Nicola McEvoy, was joined by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Leo Varadkar and RTÉ’s Rose of Tralee TV Presenter, Dáithí Ó Sé to send the first official invitation - a “Message in a Bottle”.

It was sent from the deck of the Kerry-built Jeanie Johnston replica famine ship – a symbol of mass emigration from Ireland in the 19th century.

Also at the launch were the first and Millennium Roses of Tralee, Alice O’Sullivan (1959 Dublin) and Róisín Egenton (2000 New York). Together, they also officially launched the search to find the 2013 Rose of Tralee and encouraged eligible Irish women everywhere to download an entry form now from www.RoseofTralee.ie.

Newbridge Silverware, the lead sponsors of the festival, will present the next Rose of Tralee with a range of handcrafted jewellery and homeware products. She will also receive a World Travel Prize worth $34,000 (€25,000) from Dublin Airport Authority, a year’s driving in a brand new car and much more.

"The Rose of Tralee has been hosting Gatherings since 1959, so it’s great to launch their ‘Search for a Rose’ during the Gathering 2013. I also love the idea of inviting every Rose back to Tralee this year for the Rose Gathering. It’s a really good example of how a long-established festival can add a new twist for this year’s celebrations,” Minister Varadkar said at the launch.

The Festival has connected the global Irish community in Tralee since 1959 attracting millions of festival-goers, thousands of Roses, their Escorts, families and friends, entertainers, volunteers, judges and sponsors.

In conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, they are all invited to come for the Rose Gathering and to stay for an extended Festival to enjoy a full programme of events to help visitors reconnect with Tralee and the many people who share the same experience.

Anyone who registers to attend the Rose Gathering before March 1st will have a chance to win Free accommodation in a four-bedroom apartment in Tralee during the week of the Festival.
The first 3,000 people who register from outside Kerry will each receive a complimentary ticket to the Sharon Shannon Gathering Concert in the Dome on Thursday 15th August.

Everyone who registers will be included on a guest list for a number of free and discounted events and tours during the Festival.

The General Manager of the Rose of Tralee, Oliver Hurley, said: “Our 'Gathering' happens every year in Tralee but only after our 70 Rose Centres have each had their Gathering events. Our Festival could not happen without our lead sponsors, Newbridge Silverware as well as RTÉ, Fáilte Ireland, Kerry County Council, Motivation Weight Management, Carlton Hotel Group, Dublin Airport, Irish Independent and Bon Secours Hospital Tralee. We are most grateful for all their support and we ask our festival friends to support them in any way they can.”

The 2013 Rose of Tralee will be crowned in the Dome on Tuesday 20th August after Dáithí Ó Sé presents two wonderful nights entertainment to a huge TV audience.

The charismatic west Kerryman said that it’s easy to think about the warmth of August in this cold weather and he’s looking forward to hosting it again and seeing all the Roses return to Kerry.

To register a place at the Rose Gathering in August, simply send an email with your name and contact details to thegathering@roseoftralee.ie and full event details will be issued shortly.

Any eligible young Irish lady who wants to sample a life-changing experience can find details of a Rose Selection in their county and all the information about the Festival at www.roseoftralee.ie.

The 2013 Rose of Tralee International Festival will take place from Wednesday 14th to Tuesday 20th August.