The Galway Festival is Ireland's biggest and one of its most famous racing festivals! Held during the last week of July every year, this vibrant festival involves 7 full days of both flat and jump racing action. This year the festival will be running from the 30th July to the 5th August 2018.
The eagerly anticipated week long Festival starts on the Monday with the first race taking place at 5:20pm. This year will mark the 149th running of Galway Festival, an event that boasts Live bands, DJ’s, incredible fashion and a fantastic atmosphere as well as top class racing! It is easy to see why it draws people from far and wide who wish to experience the fun atmosphere for themselves. Throughout the week there is flat and jump racing held on each day providing something for everyone.
The Wednesday of the Festival is the most prestigious, as this is the day of Galway's flagship race, the famous Galway Plate. This race has been running since 1869 and is the most historic race at Galway racecourse. The 2017 running saw the Henry de Bromhead trained BALKO DES FLOS taking victory who subsequently went on to beat UN DE SCEAUX in the RyanAir Chase at Cheltenham Festival this year! The race is run over a distance of 2 miles 6 furlongs with 14 fences to jump in total. The final two fences, which are situated 3 furlongs from the finish, are the closest fences together of any racecourse in the world!
The Thursday of the festival is renowned as ‘Ladies Day’ displaying high class racing and is the fashion pinnacle for the week. Everyone goes full out hoping to win the Hotel & Spa Best Dressed Competition and Best Hat Competition! The first race takes place at 1:40pm with the feature race being the ‘Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap’ which has a prize fund of €300,000. The race is run over 2 miles and was won last year by the Joseph O’Brien trained TIGRIS RIVER ridden by Barry Geraghty.
The final two days of the festival are held over the weekend and are the epitome of family days! Children go free on these days with fun being the main theme of the weekend. Entertainment for the young racegoers is in abundance including slides, face painting, and bouncy castles.
As for the city of Galway, it’s a harbour city located on the west coast of Ireland situated where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean. The hub of the city is Eyre Square, surrounded by shops, cafes and traditional Irish pubs. The city itself is full of museums, galleries and churches whilst its winding lanes retain portions of medieval city walls.
The racecourse is located just outside the city, a short 15 minute drive from the city centre and the Galway Festival shuttle buses run from Eyre Square to the racecourse.
What else Galway has to offer:
Whilst visiting Galway you’ll find plenty to keep you busy when you’re not at the races. The beach at Salthill is one that is highly recommended, made up of several beaches separated by outcrops with some being sandy and others pebbly. It has the perfect location being in the centre of Galway overlooking the Bay which is a Special Area of Conservation. It is hugely popular when the sun is out over the summer months.
A great beer garden to visit would be The Garden at An Púcán. It is a beautiful outside space and like nothing else in Galway. With plants and trees aplenty it resembles a secret garden combined with comfy furniture and large canopies. BBQ’s are held throughout the summer and are not to be missed!
With regards on where to eat, Brasserie on the Corner is located in the centre of Galway City and specialises in steak and seafood. With seafood sourced locally and an extensive wine list, you wouldn’t want to miss out on giving it a try.