Catch it all at SeaFest 2018

SeaFest launches festival programme with a trove of treasures on offer for all ages

Rowing into Galway Harbour from 29th June to 1st July is SeaFest 2018, and this year’s national maritime festival is offering the biggest programme of seafaring events yet.

To honour World Oceans Day, SeaFest 2018 has today (8th June 2018) launched a packed programme of ‘must-see’ events that celebrate the amazing ways our oceans and seas enrich our lives.

Dr Peter Heffernan CEO of the Marine Institute said, “SeaFest showcases Ireland’s maritime resources and also conveys an important message about the value of our oceans. Not only a source of food and transport, our oceans also support diverse ecosystems and provide opportunities for  tourism and leisure.”

“No matter how far you live from the shore the ocean affects our lives. SeaFest is a great opportunity to celebrate our marine resource, and get people talking about keeping our oceans healthy, as it’s a resource we all depend on,” Dr Heffernan said.

This year’s SeaFest will offer an immersive visual experience, with a series of engaging talks and films inspired by the ocean, taking place in the purpose-built marquee, The Atlantic Theatre. Taking centre stage will be Doug Allan, one of the world’s best underwater cameramen. Awarded eight Emmy Awards and five BAFTAS, Doug Allan will present seven talks over the weekend, sharing his experiences from filming at some of the wildest and remote places on the planet for ground-breaking documentaries such as BBC’s The Blue Planet and Ocean Giants. Also screening in The Atlantic Theatre is the RTÉ documentary Ireland’s Deep Atlantic, which shares some of the secrets from the Irish waters that surround us. The Academy Award-nominated Irish animation Song of the Sea will also be shown over the weekend.  

World-champion flyboarders will spin and spiral high into the air performing amazing tricks and flips three times a day in the heart of Galway Harbour. Festival-goers will be able to paddle a kayak in the harbour, with more than 800 free kayaking sessions taking place over the three days. Thanks to Irish Sailing, visitors can feel part of the crew and enjoy keelboat trips on Galway Bay, or step aboard a motorboat and take a close up look at the Galway Hookers in the Claddagh. Try sailing sessions are also available, with sessions available for disabled or impaired children and adults. 

One of the latest vessels in the Irish Naval fleet, the LÉ William Butler Yeats will be a spectacular sight in Galway Harbour, and an opportunity for visitors to climb aboard and explore Ireland’s newest naval vessel. The Marine Institute’s marine research vessel the RV Celtic Explorer and the Commissioner of Irish Lights vessel the ILV Granuaile will both be docked in Galway Harbour and open for tours across the weekend. 

BIM/Bord Bia Seafood Experience will feature dynamic exhibits of live fish and shellfish species, and an under the sea virtual reality display where visitors can meet the creatures of the deep. Joan Mulloy, the first Irish female sailor to compete in the world-famous Solitaire du Figaro race will share how she will be undertaking this sailing challenge. Ireland’s top chefs JP McMahon, Michael O’Meara and Oliver Dunne, and BIM’s Young Fishmongers of the Year will show you how easy it is to prepare fish and seafood at home through a series of live demonstrations. 

Seafood lovers will also enjoy the range of cookery demonstrations on offer at the Gastronomy Showcase Van, to celebrate Galway as the European Region of Gastronomy 2018. Learn tips on preparing and preserving seafood at home as well as some simple seafood recipes for kids. The traditional festival favourites will also be on offer at the range of food stalls around Galway Harbour.

Kids will be kept busy through a host of fun and educational activities taking place in the dedicated Kids Zone. Children and adults alike will enjoy building and playing with LEGO to make marine-inspired creations, and kids can also get creative and crafty by making sea-themed crafts to take home and work together to create a giant aquarium from recycled materials. Through the Explorers Education Programme, children can discover Ireland’s marine life at touch tank displays, and learn about marine litter through a number of games and interactive activities. 

Galway City Museum’s interactive exhibition ‘Sea Science – The Wild Atlantic’ will also be open over the weekend. During the festival weekend, the gallery will be enhanced by a resident scientist who will perform fun, hands-on experiments. Kids can also create colourful fish and sea-themed creatures to take home, at a series of workshops taking place at Galway City Museum. With the assistance of Galway Autism Partnership, five of these workshops will be specifically for children with sensory difficulties and their siblings. 

The Defence Forces also makes a welcome return, and will provide a current equipment and capabilities display - an attraction that is popular with visitors of all ages.

“SeaFest 2018 is truly a family festival,” said Dr Heffernan. “The range of exciting activities and attractions on and around the water aim to engage the young and the young at heart, in the magic and mystery of the ocean. All events and activities taking place over the weekend are free, making it possible for the entire family to enjoy the festival experience.”

SeaFest 2018 is a key part of Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth: An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland (HOOW) and its goal of increasing participation and engagement with the sea. 

For the 2018 event, SeaFest has received support from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Bord Bia, Commissioners of Irish Lights, Department of Defence, Galway City Council, Galway County Council, Port of Galway, Irish Coast Guard, Irish Sailing, the Marine Institute and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).    

To view the full festival programme visit To stay updated on all festival announcements download the free SeaFest Festival App and follow SeaFest on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.