Galway Races: Getting there, how to get tickets and where to stay

Covering all the bases: All you need to know about going to the racing festival of the summer

The Galway Races is one of the biggest festivals of the year on the Irish calendar. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The Galway Races is one of the biggest festivals of the year on the Irish calendar. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

There aren’t many horse racing events that encapsulate that festival feeling quite like Galway does. This year the festival takes place from Monday, July 29th to Sunday, August 4th.

With a full seven days of racing it probably runs into the realms of overkill and it’d be a brave man or woman to take on the whole week in a city that is lively at the quietest of times and off the wall during festival week. If that sounds like a good way to spend a week then here is how to make it happen.

Getting there

With trains and buses from most of the country Galway is very accessible and, if you buy early enough, not too expensive to get to. Adult returns from Dublin Heuston to Galway Ceannt during race week are priced between €35 and €40 while trains from Cork are similar with a change at Limerick Junction, running all through the day from both stations. If you fancy taking the bus instead you can do a return journey from Dublin for less than €22 while from Cork it’s just over €30.

The racecourse at Ballybrit is on the east side of the city. Shuttle buses start to leave Eyre Square at 3pm on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of racing and at 11am on the Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Adult return tickets cost €9 while a child return is €5.

Racing gets under way after 5pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday while it’s a 2pm start on Thursday (Ladies Day), Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets

Tickets for every day can be purchased on the gate. However, you can also save by buying online at galwayraces.com/tickets.

If you plan on going all seven days or even the majority of them the best option is to buy a seven-day pass for €140.

If you’re not sure which day you want to go you can buy an any-day ticket for €30.

On individual days ticket prices vary a little. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday it’s €25 for a general admission ticket, €20 for a student and €15 for a reserved seat in the grandstand.

On Thursday, prices go up slightly with general admission costing €30, a student ticket €25, and a reserved seat in the grandstand €20.

The weekend is the cheapest time to go with general admission on Saturday or Sunday costing €20, student tickets €15 and a reserved seat in the stand €10.

On all seven days under-16s go free with a paying adult.

Where to stay

From hotels, to apartments, to houses, to Airbnb there is an abundance of accommodation around Galway city and its surroundings. However, during festival week it doesn’t come cheap.

A lot of accommodation is already booked up but at time of writing there are still hotels and hostels available for about €120 a night for the Monday and Tuesday.

After that it starts to get a bit more expensive with the same rooms on Thursday coming in at about €220.

However, if you head a bit away from the city centre you can get value. For instance, you can get a double room in Salthill (less than a 10-minute taxi journey from Eyre Square) for the Wednesday and Thursday nights for a total of €300.

– This article is part of a series of consumer-based sports stories. If you have any queries, stories or issues regarding travel, tickets, sport on television or anything else you can email rcroke@irishtimes.com or via Twitter @Ruaidhri_Croke.

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