A highly anticipated event, the Galway Races Summer Festival is a must visit for both fans of horse racing as well as lovers of food, fashion and a fun day out. The 149th celebration starts on 30th July and will continue until 5th August 2018. Whether you choose to arrive by car or by private helicopter, Ireland’s Ballybrit Racecourse is easily accessible from The Lodge at Ashford Castle. From the appropriate attire to the best seats in the house, here’s our guide to the Galway Races Summer Festival.
Make sure you buy your ticket and plan your mode of transport well in advance. Over 140,000 people have previously flooded through Galway’s infamous front gates during the seven-day festival. Those who wish to can arrive by light aircraft, pre-arranged via Executive Helicopters.
For the ultimate race day experience – including plenty of Moët & Chandon champagne, gourmet nibbles and panoramic views of the racecourse – the Galway Races Summer Festival offers premium hospitality packages in addition to the prized seats in the exclusive Corrib Bar or Hurdle Hospitality Suite. Whichever area you go for, you can expect ample refreshments, artisan bites and an electric atmosphere.
When to go
The highly-anticipated launch, ‘Gather Your Tribe’, takes place on 30th July this year. Named in tribute to the fourteen merchant families (or ‘Tribes’) who dominated the political and commercial faces of Galway between the 13th and 16th centuries, spend some time exploring the beautiful and historic city of Galway before the first race kicks off.
Galway’s International Arts Festival runs 16th – 29th July 2018, and each Saturday afternoon in June and July St. Patrick’s brass band perform open air concerts in Eyre Square.
Featuring the eagerly-anticipated Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap, the 2018 Galway Races’ Ladies Day is a focal point of the summer festival. With a cash prize of €10,000 and the possibility of being voted Best Dressed at stake, smart clothing is strongly advised. Although wearing a hat is not essential, delicate fascinators and colourful dresses are popular with women and men traditionally opt for smartly-tailored suits.>
Friday’s Fair Lady
Friday’s Fair Lady at the Galway Races Summer Festival is a combination of both fast-paced horse racing, with a seven-race line up, and eye-catching fashion from the most stylish attendees. The Fair Lady Competition, taking place on the 3rd August, recognises those who present the most ravishing ensembles.
Steer all of your tribe members to Super Saturday’s age-appropriate action, for a superb family day out. Children enter free of charge on the final two days of the festival, and the entertainment is tailored to smaller spectators, with bouncy castles, slides and face painting on the cards. Don’t miss a trip to the parade ring as kids are sure to love seeing the racehorses up close. Sunday’s spectacular Mad Hatter Day ends a highly enjoyable week at Galway Races. Expect attention-grabbing headgear, with prizes given to the most inventive, avant-garde creations.
Make the most of the Galway Races Summer Festival when you stay at The Lodge at Ashford Castle.
Image Credits: Lead image © Healy Racing. Barry Geraghty © Healy Racing. Galway racecourse © Healy Racing. Ladies at race day © iStock/SolStock.