Waterford Crystal Factory Tour
If you’re planning a trip to Ireland and you even mention that you’re going anywhere near Waterford, some people will probably start asking you to “pick up a little something” for them. And if you’re not a connoisseur of high-quality glass, you might not understand their eagerness. That is, until you show up in Waterford and find that every other souvenir is made of crystal. Waterford Crystal is famous the world over, so visiting the factory just outside the Waterford city center and taking the factory tour can be a really interesting experience – especially if you’re into crystal.
The Waterford Crystal company was founded in the late 1700s, and today employs roughly 1,000 people. The factory in Waterford is where all the crystal is made, and there is a visitor center as well as the requisite gift shop. But rather than shuttling visitors through displays and diagrams showing how the crystal is created, the factory tour actually gives you a chance to see real artisans at work. In some cases, you can even chat with them and ask questions about their craft as well.
Waterford Crystal is not only one of Ireland’s most famous exports, the factory is one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions as well. Thousands of people visit the crystal factory every year. Among the highlights of the tour is an audiovisual presentation of the creation of the Millennium Ball which dropped in Times Square in New York as part of the New Year celebrations in 2000.
Tours of the Waterford Crystal factory last roughly one hour, with the last tour beginning at the closing times listed below (15:15 from Nov-Feb, 16:15 from Mar-Oct). In addition to English, guided tours are offered in several other languages. If you need a guide who speaks something other than English, you’ll need to request that when you book your tour. For your refreshment, there is an on-site restaurant just beside the visitor center reception area.
Location: The factory is about 10 minutes outside of Waterford’s city center.
Hours: Gallery – Jan-Feb, daily 09:00-17:00; Nov-Dec, daily 09:00-17:00; Mar-Oct, daily 08:30-18:00
Factory Tours – Mar-Oct, daily 08:30-16:15; Nov-Feb, Mon-Fri 09:00-15:15
Admission: €8 adult, €4 student, €6.50 seniors (children under 12 years of age are free)
More Information: See the Waterford Crystal company’s official website (best viewed in Internet Explorer), which includes a virtual tour.