Posted by Linley MacKenzie, Galway Advertiser in Features.

Free entertainment, lectures, competitions and more at Claregalway Castle.

This year’s much-awaited Galway Garden Festival will take place on July 5th and 6th at Claregalway Castle.

Now well established on the Galway summer calendar, this fifth annual event which runs from 11am to 6pm each day has it all—free guest lectures, family entertainment and music, trade stands, exhibitions, and, for the first time a period costume competition.

All gate profits will once again to to Christian Blind Mission and the Galway Simon Community.

Climate change, food safety, sustainable gardening and sustainable living are the main themes for this year’s festival, in addition to planning and cultivating beautiful gardens.

Among the guests who will deliver lectures on a variety of issues are Klaus Latinberger from Green Vegetables—renowned plantsman and gardener; Michael Kelly, founder of Grow it Yourself; Evelyn Cusack, climatologist with Met Éireann; Dr Dermott O’Flynn, medical doctor, acupuncturist and herbalist; Oliver Schurman, internationally recognised garden designer; Duncan Stewart, environmentalist and broadcaster; and Fionnuala Fallon, Irish Times gardening writer.

Period costume competition

A new highlight this year is the Period Costume Competition with visitors of all ages invoted on Sunday to dress up in the period of their choice—from the Mesolithic period to the 1930s.

The most imaginatively dressed person will be awarded a special prize by incognito judges between 1pm and 4pm.

And the revelry continues with a packed music programme that includes a Saturday lunchtime a Saturday lunchtime concert by Galway’s much-loved St Patrick’s Brass Band, followed by the renowned RTÉ contempo String Quartet at 3pm.

On Sunday the Serenadus Quartet will perform at lunchtime, followed by The Army Band of 2nd Command at 2.30pm.

And this year’s visitors can expect guest appearances by Galway composer and performer Julie Feeney at 4pm, in addition to The Galway Baytones, Strictly Dixie, Colm Stride O’Brien, and Lucca Virgi and friends.

Whitbread Award winning poet and scholar, Bernard O’Donoghue, is the special guest at Saturday’s wine reception which begins at 7pm—a ticketed event costing €10 euro and early purchase is advised.

Family Entertainment

Children of all ages will be entertained by the delightful Tommy Bakers Puppets. The Gombeens make a welcome return, bringing mayhem and anarchy, while the fabulous Franzini Brothers will bring their wonderful Cannonball Circus on both days.

Oddie Bradell will also return in what promised to be an action-packed entertainment programme.

The Botanical Art Exhibition, now in its third year, is one of the most popular displays and this year will boast more artists—many with international reputations and from as far away as Korea.

Among the trade stands the Made in Galway, which is supported by the Galway County Council, will feature the work of local craftspeople and artists, in addition to the craft tent.

Nurseries and garden suppliers from across Ireland will offer a range of plants, trees, seeds, garden furniture and equipment, including Garden Landscape Designers’ Association, Radharc landscaping, and garden designer Anne Byrne who will offer tips on how to improve your garden, so bring photos of your garden for free design advice.

Birdwatch Ireland, the Green Sod Land Trust and other environmental organisations will advise and share a range of knowledge and experience.

Free parking facilities are available, but festival goers can also leave their cars behind—a free return courtesy bus will run from Galway Ceannt Railway Station to the festival each day, starting at 10.30am and every hour thereafter.

For further information visit