Bank holiday weekend guide: The 8 best things to do

Events, travel, sport and weather - everything you need to know ahead of the weekend

A busy bank holiday weekend of marathons, music, food and flowers is ahead, but it seem s a relatively unbroken spell of sunshine this week may not continue.

Big draws include the Bloom festival at Phoenix Park in Dublin and attendees should expect heavy traffic in the area.

Some 40,000 participants will run in the Dublin Women's Mini Marathon on Monday and about 10,000 people will take to the streets for the Cork City Marathon on the same day.

The Cork Harbour Festival runs from June 4th to 12th, and there's also plenty of river activity to enjoy in the capital at the Dublin Port River Festival from Saturday to Monday.


On the music front, the Forbidden Fruit festival continues at the Irish Museum of Modern Art all weekend. The capital is also hosting the Down With Jazz festival at Meeting House Square in Temple Bar.

Met Éireann forecasts some outbreaks of rain in places overnight on Saturday and into Sunday. The bank holiday Monday will start off dry with sunny spells, but showers will develop later, becoming heavy and widespread in the afternoon and evening.

1) Bloom - All Weekend

Ireland’s largest gardening, food and family festival Bloom will take place in the Phoenix Park throughout the bank holiday weekend. The five day festival showcases gardens featuring work by leading landscapers and designers. It will also include offerings from over 100 Irish food producers.

Children are free while adult tickets range from a low of €14 for a single day up to €60 for a full five day pass.

2) Down With Jazz - Saturday and Sunday

Influenced by the anti-jazz movement of the 1930s, the Down With Jazz festival takes over Dublin’s Meeting House Square for a fifth time this weekend. As the website promises: “Who knows what class of devilment the capital’s citizens will get up if the sun comes out, with hip swivelling music and decadent improvising from the country’s finest jazz musicians?”

Tickets are €15 to €30

3) Dublin Port River Festival - Saturday to Monday

A wide range of family activities around the River Liffey including the Festival of Sail displaying large old sailing ships, a river race, Pirate Village with arts and crafts for children, food and entertainment. Admission Free.

4) Cork Harbour Festival - June 4th to 12th

Now in its second year, the festival highlights the importance of the River Lee and Cork Harbour as a natural and cultural resource, and celebrates the communities at the heart of it.

It includes the long distance ocean-to-city rowing race, the Titanic Experience Cobh and the opportunity to join a group of Drascombe sailing boats for a weekend of harbour exploration. Events range in price with some free.

5) Wisteria Weekend at Fairbrook House and Gardens, Waterford - Friday to Sunday

With flowers in full bloom, Fairbrook House invites visitors as part of the ongoing Waterford Garden Trail programme of events running until August. The event also includes a museum of contemporary figurative art as well as seven acres of gardens at Kilmeaden with a maze, woodlands and more. Admission: €7.

6) All Ireland & All Nations Sheep Shearing and Wool Handling Championships, Co Westmeath - Saturday & Sunday

The Tullynally Castle, Castlepollard event expects more than 200 competitors shearing 2,200 sheep across 19 different categories in two days of "intense competition". There will also be nightly entertainment in a fully-licensed bar, children's activities, arts and crafts, sheep dog trials, trade stands, cookery demonstrations and a food quarter.

7) Ireland Bike Fest Killarney - All weekend

Ireland's largest free open bike festival with "all makes, models and manner of bikes" welcome. Motorbike enthusiasts travel from all over the world to the festival which is headquartered at the Gleneagle Hotel, alongside Killarney National Park. The Bike Village is the main centre of activity.

Visitors can browse trade stands and sample the many food outlets but organisers say the best way to participate is on the “Ride Out” through “miles and miles of winding roads with amazing scenery around every turn”.

8) Cat Laughs Comedy Festival - All Weekend

Launched in 1995, the Kilkenny comedy extravaganza just keeps growing in the world of laughter. This weekend's line-up includes Barry Murphy, Jason Byrne, Neil Delamere, Rich Hall and Sean Hughes among a huge selection. Venues and prices vary.

Traffic and Transport

Ahead of the bank holiday, gardaí and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) issued their regular cautionary note for road users. They pointed out that between 2007 and 2015, 35 people were killed and 85 seriously injured over the three-day holiday period in June.

Considerable traffic disruption is expected in Cork throughout the six hour duration of the marathon on Monday and travel advice in and around the city is to use the ring roads (N25 South; R635 North) and link road (N27).

On the same day, Dublin’s mini-marathon will also affect traffic. Various roads throughout the capital will be closed at times between 6am and 7.30pm. A full breakdown is available on the mini-marathon website.

Irish rail has made a number of significant alterations to weekend services and has stressed that all passengers should consult their website before travelling to see if they are impacted.

In particular it said essential engineering works in Dublin will cause be major disruption to south side Dart, commuter and Rosslare Intercity services.

Consequently there will be no Dart between Connolly and Dún Laoghaire on Saturday, Sunday or Monday. Services will operate between Connolly and Howth/Malahide, and Dun Laoghaire and Bray/Greystones only.

Dundalk/Drogheda and Maynooth commuter services will operate to and from Connolly only.

Rosslare Intercity services will operate as a bus transfer between Connolly and Bray and then a train between Bray and Rosslare.

Elsewhere, there will be revised schedules on all routes to and from Heuston station on Saturday due to line improvement works between Hazelhatch and Portlaoise.

Anyone intending on travelling to the Dublin versus Laois match in Kilkenny on Saturday are advised that all rail services are sold out.


1) Dublin Women’s Mini Marathon - Monday

The event is expected to attract about 40,000 participants from across Ireland and Europe.

2) Cork City Marathon - Monday

It is the tenth anniversary of the Cork City marathon and this year’s event takes place from 9am, starting on St Patrick’s Street with about 10,000 participants expected to pant their way through the 26.2 mile course. There is also a half marathon, team relay and youth challenge.

3) East of Ireland Amateur Golf Championship - Louth Golf Club, Baltray

One of Ireland’s amateur golf events featuring top national and international players over three days of the bank holiday weekend. Spectators are welcome, free entry and parking, full restaurant service available.

4) Dublin vs Laois Leinster Football Championship - Saturday in Kilkenny

- Monaghan vs Down - football, Sunday

- Clare vs Waterford - hurling, Sunday

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times