The Rose of Tralee International Festival celebrated 50 years in 2009, and is one of Ireland's longest running festivals. It is based around the selection of the Rose of Tralee, an international event that encompasses young women of Irish descent from Ireland and around the world.
Every year more than 30 International Roses come to Tralee, supported by friends and family. The Festival comprises Rose Selection, family carnival, fashion show and live concerts, in addition to welcoming visitors and delegates from regions worldwide represented by each Rose. During this time the town's streets are transformed into a feast of parades, music, circus, funfair, markets and live performance.
All eyes are on the Roses, who travel from the UK, America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Europe and the Middle East to compete for the coveted title of Rose of Tralee (the essence of which is based on the popular song of the same name). The Roses take time to visit various attractions in Tralee and meet Festival goers in the town centre, and can also be seen at any of the three parades that take place during the week of Festival. The Midnight Madness parade on the final night is led by the newly crowned Rose of Tralee, and followed by a fireworks extravaganza.
The Festival opens with the much anticipated International Gala Rose Ball, accommodating over 900 guests who enjoy a five-course meal, entertainment, and dance the night away with the International Roses and other distinguished guests. The ever-popular Fashion Show is also a Festival highlight, with top name designers and stores showing their new season collections, stunningly presented by models from the Celia Holman Lee Agency.
Anticipation reaches its highest point at the Rose of Tralee Selection on the last two days of Festival. Broadcast live by RTÉ from the Festival Dome and hosted by Ray D'Arcy, this is the moment when television viewers in Ireland and those around the world watching via the internet get to see the Roses for themselves, as they try to predict the judges' favourite choice to be this year's Rose of Tralee. Supporters fill the 2,000-seater Dome to capacity, and maintain the electric atmosphere with their specially made banners and shouts of encouragement.
In addition, family entertainment is also provided by Fossetts circus, Birds Fun Fair and by day and night on the streets of Tralee throughout Festival week day, plus live music and the Party With the ses in the Festival Dome.
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