The Wetter, The Better – Family Magic at SeaFest

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The Riddle of the Sands….discovering more about the magic of the seas as they look forward SeaFest coming to Galway over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd July, are (l-r) Fiona Evans (10) from Carnmore, Noah Sarma (9) from Ballinderreen, and Lilian Quinlan Owens (8) from Kinvara.

The Riddle of the Sands….discovering more about the magic of the seas as they look forward SeaFest coming to Galway over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd July, are (l-r) Fiona Evans (10) from Carnmore, Noah Sarma (9) from Ballinderreen, and Lilian Quinlan Owens (8) from Kinvara.

Forget SpongeBob SquarePants, Nemo and their cartoon chums! What’s really going on beneath our Wild Atlantic is far more exciting than any movie magic. That will be the message at the start of next month as Galway Harbour rolls out a red carpet welcome for the young and the young at heart, providing free entertainment and education for all the family.

Over the SeaFest weekend on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 July, the inner pier will be buzzing with a host of ocean-themed events and attractions presented under the banner ‘The Wild Atlantic – What Lies Beneath’, each providing fascinating insights into the undersea world which surrounds Ireland and reinforcing the importance of the sea to our daily lives.

At the heart of the excitement the internationally-acclaimed experts of The Marine Institute (Foras Na Mara) will be sharing their passion for the deep with visitors, launching an exciting, newly-commissioned interactive exhibition to thrill the youngest kids, with tales of undersea adventure, and delight older audiences with examples of the wonderful, and occasionally weird, creatures which lurk in the depths beyond the Harbour walls. There will be free film screenings of “Secret Ocean by Jean-Michel Cousteau” on-board the mega mobile cinema (booking advisable*) plus quizzes and family-friendly activities.

The Riddle of the Sands….discovering more about the magic of the seas as they look forward SeaFest coming to Galway over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd July, are Noah Sarma (9) from Ballinderreen and Fiona Evans (10) from Carnmore.

The Riddle of the Sands….discovering more about the magic of the seas as they look forward SeaFest coming to Galway over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd July, are Noah Sarma (9) from Ballinderreen and Fiona Evans (10) from Carnmore.

Fans of high tech visualisation will revel in the chance to get up close and personal with the INFOMAR Augmented Reality Sandbox which uses a projector, an Xbox Kinect motion sensor and camera to project real-time coloured topographic maps with contour lines onto the sand …a great way to understand undersea mapping while keeping your feet firmly on the ground.

On Saturday 2 July there will be live link ups at 2pm and at 6pm with the Corps of Exploration on-board Dr. Robert Ballard’s exploration vessel, Nautilus, as they explore methane seeps in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of California! These shows will take place in the café of the main marquee on the Inner Pier.

Both of the Marine Institute’s Research Vessels, the Celtic Explorer and the Celtic Voyager, will dock at Galway, with the Celtic Explorer conducting hourly open house tours throughout the festival weekend. Tours are free but capacity is limited.

Looking forward to a packed weekend, Dr. Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive Officer of The Marine Institute said, “We’re thrilled that SeaFest, Ireland’s premier maritime festival, will be coming to Galway this year. In our professional capacities, we’re all looking forward to the opportunity to share news, views and insights with our peers and with the host of influential visitors who will come to our city for the annual Our Ocean Wealth Conference and other business and research events.

“However we’re just as keen to welcome families and visitors who are simply curious to find out a little more about Ireland’s rich maritime heritage and, in particular, we look forward to welcoming children and young people to what promises to be a great weekend. Some of those young visitors could be the ocean explorers, marine biologists, oceanographers of the future: they could find their careers as hydrographers mapping the seabed, or as engineers, developing novel marine renewable energy devices. Inspired by SeaFest, they could sail on a fishing fleet or sail for pleasure; become celebrity seafood chefs or simply enjoy eating the harvest of the oceans. The sea is a source of endless, exciting possibilities and we want to open young minds to the potential of this great natural resource.”

Budget-conscious mums and dads will be delighted to know that the majority of the inspiring SeaFest family activities are free, but capacities for key events are limited – so book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Open from 9am, last admissions for the Galway Pier activities are 6pm on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 July. Click here to see the full programme for ‘The Wild Atlantic – What Lies Beneath’ events, where there’s also a *link to book free film screenings.

Surf this SeaFest website and you will also find a list of other activities running as part of the maritime festival weekend including a Safety at Sea Exhibition and The Longest River, to name only a few.

See it all at SeaFest

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SeaFest Ahoy! Marking ‘European Maritime Day’ (20th May) to launch SeaFest 2016 is RNLI’s Stormy Stan, with Finn and Lilian Furey from Oranmore, on board the Optimist.

A wave of excitement is about to break over Galway as the city prepares to host SeaFest, Ireland’s major national maritime festival, docking in the city over the action-packed weekend of Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 July 2016.

Following a successful inaugural event in Cork last year, SeaFest is now firmly established as an annual celebration of all things nautical, honouring Ireland’s multi-faceted relationship with the sea.

Launching the packed programme for Galway, Mr. Michael Creed TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said “SeaFest is all about raising our awareness of the value and opportunities provided by the sea, giving locals and visitors alike fresh opportunities to engage in sea-themed events and activities.

“We’re making a splash with a programme of events which will include an array of seafaring family fun, on the water activities plus a seafood fair packed with great natural produce and cookery demonstrations by celebrity chefs. We’ll be hosting tours of Ocean-going vessels; offering new opportunities to get afloat on leisure craft and boats, showcasing exhibits on marine life and creatures of the deep and providing all manner of festival fun and entertainment for all the family.

“Importantly, we’re proud to be playing our part in the wider ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth’ initiative, providing opportunities for people of every age and interest to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of the ocean, building on how we can each act to protect our abundant maritime resources.”

That SeaFest programme will run from 9am to 6pm daily with Galway Harbour providing a focal point of activity.

All things fishy will be celebrated at the festival’s BIM/Bord Bia Sea Food Extravangza, located in a Big Top marquee at The Docks. Here celebrity chefs Martin Shanahan and Rory O’Connell will be rolling out recipes and cookery demos to tempt seafood lovers’ tastebuds, while Michael O’Meara from Oscar’s Bistro in Galway and the author of the top-selling ‘Sea Gastronomy’ (nominated for Best Cookbook in the World) will also share his knowledge and favourite dishes. BIM’s 2015 Young Fishmonger Of The Year, Gerard Collier from The Fisherman’s Catch, Clogherhead, will take the mystery out of preparing fish and shellfish at home. Visitors will also get to taste the best of Irish seafood from some of Ireland’s best seafood producers.

The inner pier at Galway Harbour is where you will find ship tours, free film screenings*, and ‘The Wild Atlantic – What Lies Beneath’ – an exciting, new, interactive, family-friendly exhibition from the Marine Institute.

Linking the Big Top and Inner Harbour will be a linear quayside Festival Village, a mini market of crafts and culinary temptation, all served up with nautical style and relaxed entertainment … complemented with regular personal appearances by the RNLI’s Stormy Stan character.

Intrepid SeaFesters will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a range of vessels, invited to hop on board for show-and-tell tours. The Marine Institute’s Research Vessels, the Celtic Explorer and the Celtic Voyager, will be conducting open house tours of the ships over the festival. The Commissioner of Irish Lights, responsible for lighthouses right around the country, will be bringing its own ship, The Granuaile, into the harbour and will present a ‘Safety at Sea Through War and Upheaval’ exhibition from Irish Lights and the Royal Irish Academy, on the role of Irish lighthouses 1911-1923.

‘On A Voyage’ will be a chance to watch on in awe as Frank Bölter sails an extraordinary large scale origami paper boat! This unusual sailing craft is made out of giant sheets of folded paper using origami techniques and reinforced with metal poles.

Enthusiasts of the traditional sailing Galway Hookers won’t be disappointed, with a gathering of Galway Hookers in the harbour, and a day of racing culminating in the challenge for the historic Galway Plate.

Underpinning the fun of SeaFest will be a serious four day focus on research and the marine economy with a number of marine-related business and research events taking place around the city, starting Thursday 30 June; each seeking to explore and strengthen the maritime heritage, economy and identity. The third annual ‘Our Ocean Wealth Conference’ will feature a number of sessions where speakers and delegates can delve more deeply into the conference theme of Innovating for our Marine Future.

To ‘whet’ the appetite, ‘The Longest River’ will be performed at St Augustinian Church (Middle Street) on Wednesday 29th June at 7pm. The performance will provide an opportunity to reflect on our maritime history and the opportunities ahead for mankind and our relationships with the Earth, Ocean and Seas.

SeaFest is also supported by the Port of Galway, National University of Ireland, Galway, Galway City Council, the Department of Defence, and the Irish Coastguard.

Visit SeaFest’s what’s on page for the latest details as they are added to the event’s programme of FREE activities, times and locations. For more information on Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth: An Integrated Marine plan for Ireland you can visit

Join in the SeaFest fun on Facebook or follow SeaFest on Twitter.

* Click here to book your free tickets to the film screenings for SeaFest presents Secret Ocean by Jean Michel Cousteau (2nd & 3rd July).