Huge numbers of people are set to assemble at the Letterkenny Institute of Technology ovet this weekend as the Relay for Life Donegal event once again captures the mood of the country.
A community based initiative, the 24-hour fundraiser helps boost the Irish Cancer Society as well as supporting those who are currently facing the illness and subsequent treatment, those who have survived, and those gone from us.
Billed as a walking relay event, it is that and much more with top acts from the world of entertainment helping to generate a non-stop parade of music and dancing.
The opening ceremony on Saturday evening, comprising the Survivors Choir, officially gets the event underway before the opening lap at 6pm involving the caregivers and the team parade.
The entertainment continues right up to the midnight hour and beyond with a hugely impressive line-up of performers including the Gateway Singers, Robert Mizell backed by Brian Kerrigan, Declan Nerney backed by Off the Kuff, Eamonn Jackson, Jim Devine, David McNamee, Jacqui Sharkey, and El Dorado.
At 9pm, ‘In Their Thousands’ take to the stage followed by Keelan Arbuckle and Callum Keaveney.
Moya Brennan and family will perform at 10.20pm adding another starring dimension to the event.
One of the most emotional aspects of an emotion thronged weekend is the Luminaria Ceremony featuring the Survivors Choir and a candlelit parade honouring those who have fought and survived cancer, those who lost that fight, and those for whom the fight continues. The half-hour parade, which commences at 10.40pm, promises to bring lumps to throats in an occasion of the rawest sentiment.
Following performances by Caz Hunter and Simon Peters, there features the Relay Ceili with music by Ceol na Coille as the midnight hour approaches.
Relay team activities continue throughout the night before Sunday dawns with respective pyjama and healthy eating laps of the track from 6am. Lorraine Toner provides the Zumba/Wakey Wakey event to be followed by the breakfast laps.
Mass and service take place at 7am on Sunday with Highland Radio afterwards hosting a live request show by Bernard Harper.
A Gospel Hour and Ecumenical Service follow at 9am and 10am respectively with the volunteers for the Hair Donations for the Little Princess Trust being introduced on stage at 11am.
The entertainment rolls on with performances from Ritchie Remo, a Johnny Cash tribute and Dennis Peoples before the hair donors have their pony-tails cut on stage.
But there’s no cutting in the entertainment stakes with Paul McCahill and Martin McColgan taking to the stage followed by World Champion Irish dancers, Gavin and Niamh Shevlin.
And on it goes with Anne Biddy, Paul Kelly, and Trevor Loughrey doing their musical bit followed by Legacy, Hugo Duncan and Gary Gamble. The latter will welcome on stage the newly Little Princess Trust donors at 1.40pm.
Laughter will never be far away during the 24-hour marathon and they’re guaranteed when Conal Gallen gets in front of the microphone at 3pm. The Twin Towns comedian will be followed by Johnny Brady, Lee Matthews, the Kopy Kats, Seamus McGee (backed by John Staunton) and Annette Griffin.
Another special highlight will be the appearance at 5pm of Relay patron, Daniel O’Donnell, accompanied by Majella who herself has fought the cancer fight.
The closing ceremony at 5.40pm will again feature the Survivors Choir who will perform a specially composed song focusing on the 24-hour Relay.