Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Cork Harbour Festival Puts Spotlight on Great Natural Amenities

31st May 2023
Training for the Ardmore Shipping Ocean to City Race which takes place this Saturday, 3rd of June, as part of Cork Harbour Festival 2-11 June, Cork City and Harbour
Training for the Ardmore Shipping Ocean to City Race which takes place this Saturday, 3rd of June, as part of Cork Harbour Festival 2-11 June, Cork City and Harbour Credit: Clare Keogh

Cork Harbour Festival starts this week to celebrate Cork’s greatest natural amenities, Cork Harbour and the River Lee, through a packed festival programme across 10 days from 2 – 11 June.

The festival highlights the incredible choice of attractions and activities, heritage sites, cultural experiences and stories there are to discover in Cork City and Harbour. With over 80 events from 50 event providers to explore in this year’s festival programme, and with many offered for free or discounted, there is plenty to choose from.

Cork Harbour is one of the largest natural harbours in the world, and Cork Harbour Festival offers countless ways to explore it. Take an exciting 2 hour Evening Rib Tour of Cork Harbour with Cork Harbour Boat Hire (2 & 9 June); Explore the Wildlife & Coastline of Cork Harbour with Cork Sea Safari (4 & 5 June). Get behind the wheel of a powerboat with SailCork (3, 6, 7 June). Or do a Stand Up Paddle Tour on the River Lee with Cork City SUP (9 June). If you prefer to stay on land, take a Cork Greenway Cycle Tour with Beyond the Glass Adventure Tours and cycle along the harbour shoreline (2,3,7-10 June).

Running throughout the festival are loads of family activities and entertainment. Families can also enjoy a Floating Classroom with the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group, aboard their Celtic Mist Research Vessel (3-5 June). The ever popular Cork Ghost Tour is back this year for more hilarious frights and hysterical delights for all the family (7, 8, 9 June). Or enjoy a high-octane comedic dinner theatre experience unlike anything else in Ireland with Hysterical Histories Cork (6-10 June).

Ocean to City – An Rás Mór, Saturday 3 June:

Excitement is building ahead of the return of Ocean to City – An Rás Mór this Saturday June 3rd. The race is one of Ireland's most ambitious rowing and paddling spectacles. Cork Harbour comes alive with colour and activity as 550 Irish and international participants compete in a gruelling race across the harbour. Participants travel from across Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States and will bring 200 boats to the event.

On the day, there will be family friendly entertainment at various vantage points along Cork Harbour, including Cobh, Monkstown, Blackrock and Cork City. At 12pm, at The Promenade in Cobh, in association with Cobh Tourism and Cobh Animation Team, spectators can cheer on race participants as they power by while enjoying music and live commentary. At 12.30pm, soak up the action in Monkstown and cheer on all the participants starting their Ocean to City ‘half marathon’. In Blackrock, spectators can encourage the Youth Race crews from 12.45pm as they row their colourful currachs over the 4km course to the finish line. The Youth Race is organised by Meitheal Mara as part of their Bádóireacht programme. At the finish line at Lapp’s Quay in Cork City, enjoy the big spectacle with entertainment, music, live commentary, and food from 1.30 pm onwards.

Published in Cork Harbour Team

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Cork Harbour Information

It’s one of the largest natural harbours in the world – and those living near Cork Harbour insist that it’s also one of the most interesting.

This was the last port of call for the most famous liner in history, the Titanic, but it has been transformed into a centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

The harbour has been a working port and a strategic defensive hub for centuries, and it has been one of Ireland's major employment hubs since the early 1900s. Traditional heavy industries have waned since the late 20th century, with the likes of the closure of Irish Steel in Haulbowline and shipbuilding at Verolme. It still has major and strategic significance in energy generation, shipping and refining.

Giraffe wander along its shores, from which tens of thousands of men and women left Ireland, most of them never to return. The harbour is home to the oldest yacht club in the world, and to the Irish Navy. 

This deep waterway has also become a vital cog in the Irish economy.

‘'s Cork Harbour page’ is not a history page, nor is it a news focus. It’s simply an exploration of this famous waterway, its colour and its characters.

Cork Harbour Festival

Ocean to City – An Rás Mór and Cork Harbour Open Day formerly existed as two popular one-day events located at different points on Cork’s annual maritime calendar. Both event committees recognised the synergy between the two events and began to work together and share resources. In 2015, Cork Harbour Festival was launched. The festival was shaped on the open day principle, with Ocean to City – An Ras Mór as the flagship event.

Now in its sixth year, the festival has grown from strength to strength. Although the physical 2020 festival was cancelled due to Covid-19, the event normally features nine festival days starting on the first week of June. It is packed full of events; all made possible through collaboration with over 50 different event partners in Cork City, as well as 15 towns and villages along Cork Harbour. The programme grows year by year and highlights Ireland’s rich maritime heritage and culture as well as water and shore-based activities, with Ocean to City – An Rás Mór at the heart of the festival.

Taking place at the centre of Ireland’s maritime paradise, and at the gateway to Ireland’s Ancient East and the Wild Atlantic Way, Cork is perfectly positioned to deliver the largest and most engaging harbour festival in Ireland.

The Cork Harbour Festival Committee includes representatives from Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Port of Cork, UCC MaREI, RCYC, Cobh & Harbour Chamber and Meitheal Mara.

Marinas in Cork Harbour

There are six marinas in Cork Harbour. Three in Crosshaven, one in East Ferry, one in Monkstown Bay and a new facility is opening in 2020 at Cobh. Details below

Port of Cork City Marina

Location – Cork City
Contact – Harbour Masters Dept., Port of Cork Tel: +353 (0)21 4273125 or +353 (0)21 4530466 (out of office hours)

Royal Cork Yacht Club Marina

Location: Crosshaven, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0) 21 4831023

Crosshaven Boatyard Marina

Location: Crosshaven, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0)21 4831161

Salve Marina Ltd

Location: Crosshaven, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0) 21 4831145

Cork Harbour Marina

Location: Monkstown, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0)87 3669009

East Ferry Marina

Location: East Ferry, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0)21 4813390

New Cove Sailing Club Marina

(to be opened in 2020)

Location: Cobh, Co. Cork
Contact: 087 1178363

Cork Harbour pontoons, slipways and ramps

Cork City Boardwalk Existing pontoon

Port of Cork 100m. pontoon

Cork city – End of Cornmarket St. steps and slip;

Cork city - Proby’s Qy. Existing limited access slip

Quays Bar & Restaurant, Private pontoon and ramp for patrons, suitable for yachts, small craft town and amenities

Cobh harbour [camber] Slip and steps inside quay wall pontoon

Fota (zoo, house, gardens) Derelict pontoon and steps

Haulbowline naval basin; restricted space Naval base; restricted access;

Spike Island pier, steps; slip, pontoon and ramp

Monkstown wooden pier and steps;

Crosshaven town pier, with pontoon & steps

East Ferry Marlogue marina, Slip (Great Island side) visitors’ berths

East Ferry Existing pier and slip; restricted space East Ferry Inn (pub)
(Mainland side)

Blackrock pier and slips

Ballinacurra Quay walls (private)

Aghada pier and slip, pontoon & steps public transport links

Whitegate Slip

Passage West Pontoon

Glenbrook Cross-river ferry

Ringaskiddy Parking with slip and pontoon Ferry terminal; village 1km.

Carrigaloe pier and slip; restricted space; Cross-river ferry;

Fountainstown Slip

White’s Bay beach

Ringabella beach

Glanmire Bridge and tide restrictions

Old Glanmire - Quay