22 Jul Galloping to the Galway Races
Crowds of race-lovers will descend on the west of Ireland again this year, as the Galway Races get underway from Monday 25th July. Whether you’re a fully-fledged race enthusiast or it’s your first-time joining in on the fun, the Galway Races has something for everyone. As it’s one of the biggest racing festivals of the summer, you can expect it to draw massive crowds both to the racecourse and to the city itself and traffic delays are unfortunately inevitable.
When’s the Best Day to go to the Races?
The festival runs from Monday 25th right up until Sunday 31st July, which is the weekend of the August Bank Holiday. You’re always going to get a great day out at the races no matter what day you pick. If you want to avoid the worst of the crowds and opt for a more relaxing racing experience though, Monday or Tuesday are your best days as they tend to be quieter.
On Wednesday, the infamous Galway Plate race takes place and this one usually garners the most media attention and in turn, massive crowds of people. It’s a great day out and the atmosphere is second to none.
Thursday is an equally monumental day as the fashionistas and finery come to the fore. The ever-popular Ladies Day descends on the racecourse in Ballybrit and it’s usually the most colourful and vibrant day on the Galway racing calendar. If you’d like to chance your arm and put your own style to the test, the good news is that you don’t have to go through a formal entry procedure. The judges simply wander through the crowds and select a number of eye-catching finalists. Be sure to be in a prominent part of the racecourse before 11:30am though, as that’s when the judges start their rounds! The Annual Best Hat competition and Most Stylish Man event also take place on the day so if you can’t claim the big prize, those awards might make for a suitable consolation.
It’s another style-filled spectacle on Friday as Friday’s Fair Lady competition gets underway. This is likely to be another very busy day for the racecourse, so be prepared for traffic delays and long queues to both the bookies and the bar. Again, if you’re looking to enter the Fair Lady competition, there is no formal entry – just sit pretty in a prominent position for the judges and you’re sure to be spotted. Don’t dilly-dally though as finalists are usually picked out before 6pm.
If you’re looking for a family day out, then Saturday or Sunday at the races are your best option. They’re the dedicated family days and children even get free entry. Think the kids will find race day a bit dull? Think again. There will be an abundance of entertainment for the young racegoer including bouncing castles, slides and face painting. The Mad Hatters Day takes place on the Sunday and is a real fun way to get the kids involved in race day. There are prizes available for adults and children sporting wacky hat designs but make sure you head to the Mad Hatters Tent, found behind the Tote if you want your entry to be recognised.
There isn’t an overly strict dress policy at the Galway Races but if you want to keep in tune with the crowds, it’s best to stick to your smart/casual attire. You’ll get away with dressing more informally on Monday or Tuesday but from Wednesday onwards, it’s a good idea to get your finest glad rags out. Thursday and Friday are the big ‘dressed up’ days, when the Ladies Day and Fair Lady competitions take place so you’re encouraged to dress as smartly as you possibly can.
You’ll find the racecourse about 5km from the city centre, in an area called Ballybrit. It’s easily accessed off the N17 Tuam Road or the N6 Bothar na Dtreabh and delays are likely on both of those approaches to the racecourse. There will be ample car parking facilities available in the vicinity of the racecourse and parks will be located on both approaches to the racecourse.
If you’re using the N17 from Sligo to get to Galway for the races, the road will be closed between Collooney and Tobercurry near Ballinacarrow North from Tuesday 26th until Thursday 28th July between 4am and 5pm each day. You will be diverted but do expect that to add to your journey time.
If you’re using the N17 to get to the races and want to avoid the heavier traffic. You can take a left at Claregalway onto the N18 (signposted Limerick). At the traffic lights, take a right and drive past the airport. After about 3 and a half kilometres, you’ll take a right onto Ballybrit Crescent and head into the racecourse that way. You won’t avoid the inevitable delays around the vicinity of the racecourse, but you should bypass the heaviest traffic on the N17.
There will be a shuttle bus service operating every day of the races between Eyre Square and the racecourse. It will pick up people outside The Skeff Restaurant on Eyre Square and buses will start running from approximately 2 hours before the first race. Return services will start bringing people back into the city from after the second-last race each day and you’ll find the service at Entrance B and C of the arena.
The demand for buses will be high so expect some queues. An adult single fare is €6 and you’ll pay €9 for the return service while for children, a single ticket will cost €3 and €5 for the return. The pick-up stop at The Skeff is just a short five minute walk from Ceannt Train Station and the adjoining Galway Bus Station, so this may be a good option for you if you’re using public transport to get to Galway.
There will be numerous taxis travelling between the city centre and the racecourse. If you want to get a taxi out of the venue, the taxi rank will be located at Entrance B.
- You’re advised to arrive at least one hour before the time of the first race and turnstiles will open about two hours before the first race each day.
- No need to worry about pre-booking tickets. Admission can be paid on the day through the turnstiles.
- OAP’s and students can get a discounted admission rate on the day, provided you have proof of a current ID. Discounted rates are as follows: Monday €10, Tuesday €15, Wednesday €15, Thursday €20, Friday €15, Saturday €10 and Sunday €10.
- Children under 12 will be admitted free of charge to the Summer Festival and if the kids are over 12, they will be offered the discounted student rate.