Heading to Bloom in the Phoenix Park over the coming days? With over 100,000 people expected to visit Ireland's biggest food and garden show, which runs from Thursday, June 1st until Monday, June 5th (9am-6pm), here's a host of useful tips on how to make your trip as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible.
Let's start with the best way to get your hands on a ticket; these can be booked online at bloominthepark.com with the option to have tickets emailed directly to you or to collect them at the Bloom box office on your arrival. Alternatively, they can be purchased at the gate. One-day adult admission prices range from €16 (concession) to €22.50 with each adult ticket also entitling three children to free admission (maximum age 16).
Best way to get to Bloom ? Courtesy shuttle buses will be available to regularly ferry visitors to and from Park Gate Street to the show, which is situated in the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre (also home to Ashtown Walled Garden) as well as those travelling by train or by Luas (services commence at 8.30am and finish at 7pm). If you're planning on travelling by bike, there's free park-and-lock facilities on-site while those travelling by car can park in one of two designated car parks in Phoenix Park with parking charged at a daily rate of €5. Red Car Park A will serve City Centre traffic from Parkgate Street entrance while Green Car Park B will serve City Centre/NCR traffic north city and M50 traffic from the Castleknock gate and White's Gate. Wheelchairs are also available to pre-book if required; just call (01) 8186453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you've arrived at Bloom, you'll be handed a map of the extensive show-grounds and a guide to the show including a timetable giving details of the vast range of talks, chats, shows, performances and live demonstrations on offer. But with six separate stages- the Garden Experts stage, GIY stage, Fashion Stage, Kitchen Stage, Music stage and Irish Craft Village covering subjects as diverse as garden design, patchwork, contemporary Irish cooking, botanical printmaking and growing your own food- it's well worth doing a little pre-planning by browsing the event schedule online (bloominthepark).
As part of the music stage, YouBloomDublin 2017 (youbloom.com) have teamed up with the good folks at Bloom to bring you the best of emerging Irish musical talent including ARRON; Culwick Choir Society; Corner Boy; Dansi; Dawn Chorus; DJ Hazel Lake; Don Baker Band; Emma Lou & The Agenda; Garda Band; Hvmmingbyrd; Jamie Stanton & Roadkill Revival; Jejun; Lavengro; Leah Moran Stage School; Leeson Park School of Music Ensembles; Lowlight Gathering; Oski Bravo; Popgun Warfare; Sean Rooney; The Klares; The Ocelots; The Southern Fold; and Youth Mass. Bloom's Banter Stage is also well worth a visit, although details of those taking part are still to be confirmed so keep an eye on the bloominthepark.com website.
The gardens…Whatever you do, don't miss the chance to see this year's array of show gardens specially created for the event, especially 'Transition', the exquisite design of Oliver and Liat Schurmann. If it doesn't win Best in Show, I'll eat my hat (if I had a hat…) The winner of RTE's Super Garden (still top secret at the time of writing) will also have a show garden at this year's event.
If you're planning on visiting with young children in tow, do avail of Bloom's handy new 'kids passport' initiative, which gives each child a wristband with a contact mobile phone number printed on it so that if they're unlucky enough to get separated from you in a crowd, you can be quickly re-united. Baby-changing facilities are also available in the nearby Phoenix Park café while for kids in need of entertainment, head for the dedicated Kid's Zone where popular performers will include Billy Bubbles and Scientific Sue.
If it’s delectable plants that you’re after, head for the nursery marquee where some (but sadly not all) of the country’s best specialist nurseries have created stunning displays. There’s also a plant creche service available so you can stash your purchases until you’re ready to head home, although for the best bargains, you’ll need to hold your nerve until 3pm next Monday (the final hours of the show) when the bell rings to mark the beginning of the show gardens being dismantled.
Where to eat
In need of a bite to eat? Bloom has its own dedicated picnic grounds where you can sit and soak in the ambience. Either bring your own or sample some of the delicious offering available to buy from the 110 exhibitors (33 of whom are new to the show) including plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options. If a more formal sit-down meal is your thing, then the Bloom Bistro (situated just beside the show garden area) or the new 370-seater Country Crest Food Fayre (just next to the nursery marquee ) are the places to go. The Bloom Bistro also offers the more informal dining option of its café or its seafood bar. To pre-book a table (a good idea, given the crowds), call 087 437 6441 or email email@example.com.
Elaine Crosse, spokesperson for Bord Bia (the event's organisers) suggests making a bee-line for the GIY stage, where Prof Donal O'Shea and Aoife Hearn of Operation Transformation and food gurus/writers Alison Canavan, Aoife Carrigy, Suzanne Campbell and Paula Mee (author of Gut Feeling) will be participating in a series of live talks. She also recommends visitors to wear comfy shoes, bring sun-cream as well as rainproof gear (this way you cover all eventualities) and a few bottles of water (these can be refilled for free on site) as well as some ready cash as there's inevitably a queue for the two ATMs points on-site. For Bloom festival manager Gary Graham, "the show-stopping gardens, which are the jewel in our festival's crown, the explosion of new gins in Ireland which has made its way into the Bloom Inn and finally the Ocelots, a young band from Wexford performing on our entertainment stage are all must-sees at this year's Bloom."