Galway businesses are hoping for a bumper June Bank Holiday with seafarers and landlubbers alike expected to descend on the city.
The inaugural Galway Sea Festival takes place from Friday 31 May to Monday 3 June, with city businesses hopeful it will prove a draw for both locals and tourists and kick off the city’s busy summer season.
The four-day family-friendly event aims to celebrate Galway’s coastal environment and waterways and will include a mix of marine related events and activities, many of which are free.
It’s hoped the festival will become a cornerstone of Galway’s annual festival programme, with Paul Gill of the Irish Hotels Federation suggesting, “Galway just needs an excuse for people to come”.
The Claregalway Hotel MD said hotel bookings for this Sunday were “quite strong”, and that this weekend is traditionally popular for weddings.
Many local hotels have reported high occupancy rates, with Salthill Hotel GM Daniel Corbett indicating the Galway Sea Festival may be a contributing factor to this, as well as the Carlsberg Salthill National Fives, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday in Salthill Park and sees over 130 teams from all over Ireland taking part in the annual tournament.
The Galway Bay Hotel is also fully booked this weekend, with Sales and Marketing Manager Louise Campbell suggesting many guests may take in Galway Sea Festival activities during their time in Galway, given that many events take place near the hotel.
Galway Sea Festival highlights include the Galway Sea Festival Regatta, currach racing, fairground amusements, beach safaris, seafood trails, sandcastle competitions, windsurfing, day cruises and tours of the Irish Naval vessel LE Aoife.
An early and family-friendly celebration of World Oceans Day will also take place on Sunday 2 June at Galway Atlantaquaria, while there will be opportunities for water sports enthusiasts to try activities such as stand up paddle boarding, sea kayaking, windsurfing, canoeing and diving.
Galway’s seafood restaurants will also participate in a food trail over the weekend, while there will also be a music trail featuring special performances by Trad on the Prom along with marine-themed street theatre in the Latin Quarter.
For more details, see our special feature on page 33. For updates and full programme details, visit www.galwayseafestival.com or see www.facebook.com/galwayseafestival.