Torchlight procession lights up start of festival to celebrate all things Irish
on 01/01/2013 00:00:00
Thousands of people took to the streets of the capital for the People's Procession of Light, a fireworks display and a concert in College Green, headlined by Imelda May and Bell X1.
Journalists from around 70 international media organisations were in Dublin to cover the event.
In Cork, the start of The Gathering will be marked with a New Year's Day 21-gun salute on Spike Island.
Meanwhile, Derry was marking the start of its year as the UK City of Culture, with a fireworks and pyrotechnics show.
Irish Tourist Industry Confederation chief executive Eamonn McKeon predicted that the Gathering would attract more than 300,000 visitors next year and could deliver a 5% growth in overseas visitors.
Despite actor Gabriel Byrne description of the Gathering as a "scam", tourism chiefs believe he has actually given the event an unexpected boost.
Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said he was sure the sceptics would be confounded. "It's a bit like the Olympics. You need to see it to believe it. The atmosphere will catch on. The whole thing has really moved on in the last month and a half."
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said: "There really is absolutely huge enthusiasm for the Gathering among those overseas, particularly or Irish heritage."
The Gathering, which has been modelled on a Scottish homecoming event held four years ago, will last until Dec 31.