The Galway Races is one of the best known and most prestigious sporting events in the Irish calendar and one of the most premier horse racing events in the world. Visiting the races makes for a fantastic experience and is a must for both tourists and locals alike.
If you’re planning a trip you probably have plenty of questions and that’s where we come in. We’ve been doing our research and have created this helpful guide highlighting Everything You Need to Know About the Galway Races.
When are the Galway Races held?
The Galway Races last for a week and take place at the end of July each year. It attracts over 150,000 spectators over the course of the week, with the busiest days being Wednesday when the Galway Plate is held and Thursday which is Ladies’ Day and the Galway Hurdle.
Additional race meets take place in September and October, though these attract a smaller crowd than the summer festival.
Where do the Galway Races take place?
The Galway Races take place at the Ballybrit racecourse in the town of Ballybrit, some 6 kilometres north of Galway city centre.
How to get to the Galway Races
Ballybrit racecourse is well serviced by the N83 and N6 national roads and a short distance from Galway Airport though please note that Galway Airport has not been used commercially since 2015 and the nearest operating commercial airport is Shannon Airport in Clare.
Travelling from Dublin
Follow the M4/M6 onto the N6 then continue on to Ballybrit (follow signs for Galway Airport then Racecourse). The journey is roughly 2 hours long.
Travelling from Shannon Airport
Follow the N19 onto the M18. Join onto the M6 then continue as directed above. The drive takes an hour.
Travelling from Galway City Centre
Shuttle buses will be in operation for the Summer Festival leaving from Eyre Square with a return ticket costing €9.
Travelling from Cork
Travel along the N20, N18, M18 and N18 before turning off at Ballybrit Crescent towards your destination. Travelling from Cork city takes around two and a half hours.
What is the history of the Galway Races?
The first ever racing festival to be held in Ballybrit was a 2-day race meet over 150 years ago in 1869. The first change to this came 90 years later when it was extended to a 3-day race meet in 1959. The event continued to evolve as it became a 4-day race meet in 1971, a 5-day race meet in 1974, a 6-day race meet in 1982 before finally becoming the 7-day race meet that we know today in 1999.
From 1971 – 1973, the fourth day of the race meet was held in Tuam racecourse, which is around a 30 minutes’ drive away from Ballybrit.
Where to stay for the Galway Races?
Finding accommodation near the Galway Races can be tricky and takes time with many different establishments to choose from. We’ve tried to simplify this for you with our suggestions.
Another great option for those heading to the races. Again, only around a ten minutes’ drive from the Ballybrit racecourse, our Maldron Hotel at Sandy Road is another prime location for the Galway Races.
A fantastic base of operations if choosing to stay for the Galway Races. Located just off the M6, we are only ten minutes away from the Ballybrit racecourse and in close proximity to the city also.
Our family-friendly hotel is complete with a leisure centre so when you’re done with the horses you can come back and relax in our 20-metre swimming pool or even head to our Club Vitae gym for a workout!
Where to eat during the Galway Races?
Of course, if you’re going to the Galway Races you’re going to want to get food. There are a multitude of places to grab a bite to eat on the racecourse itself.
Champagne Bar: enjoy stylish, modern surroundings as well as a mini grand piano.
Carvery Restaurant: serving a wide range of food, from hearty meals to teas, coffees and desserts. The Carvery Restaurant serves food from two hours before the first race to 1 hour after the last race.
Racers Fast Food Restaurant: serves up a range of delicious takeaway foods.
Festival Village: not only does the festival village have food and craft beers, but it also has a big screen, live music and betting facilities to satisfy every punters’ needs.
Hop House Bar and Guinness Village: if you’re looking for a pint, then the Hop House Bar and Guinness Village have you covered. You can also get fresh oysters in the Guinness Village!
But you aren’t limited to just eating at the racecourse! The nearby Galway city is lively and vibrant with plenty of great food options to satisfy your hunger at any time of the day. Here are some of the tastiest places that we absolutely love.
56 Central Restaurant: 56 Central does great food no matter what time of the day but we particularly recommend getting a big breakfast in here before heading off to the races. Buttermilk pancakes, a full Irish and breakfast bruschetta are just a few of the amazing options on offer.
The Dough Bros: did anyone say pizza? Did anyone say quite possibly the best pizza in Ireland? Dough Bros have a range of delicious pizzas to choose from and is the perfect way to wind down after a long day at the races. Because let’s face it, who doesn’t love pizza!
Xi’an Street Food: Xi’an Streetfood makes great food. Everything on their menu is varied and delicious from their Biang Biang noodles to their amazing Roujimao burgers. But their spice bag is the cherry on the cake. What better way to spend a post-race evening than chowing down on the best spice bag in Ireland?
A place to stay during the Galway Races
The Galway Races are a special event and there for everyone to enjoy, whether it’s your first time going or thirty-first time. The Maldron Hotels at Oranmore and Sandy Road would be delighted to welcome you through our doors and act as your home away from home as you soak up the atmosphere of one of Ireland’s finest sporting events and cities.