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Galway Nets Over 101,000 Visitors For SeaFest 2017

4th July 2017
New Zealand’s champion flyboarder Beau Weston marked a swell start to SeaFest, which ran from Friday 30 June to Sunday 2 July New Zealand’s champion flyboarder Beau Weston marked a swell start to SeaFest, which ran from Friday 30 June to Sunday 2 July Photo: Jason Clarke

#SeaFest - Ireland’s national maritime festival, SeaFest 2017, attracted 101,113 visitors to Galway Harbour during the three day event this past weekend – generating €6.3 million for the city.

According to organisers, the figures show a phenomenal 68% growth in attendance in just one year.

Last year SeaFest saw 60,000 people attend the festival in Galway, while its inaugural year in 2015 attracted 10,000 visitors.

Marine Institute chair Dr John Killeen said that both SeaFest and the accompanying Our Ocean Wealth Summit “have both exceeded our expectations in terms of attendance and also for creating public awareness of the immense marine resources which are abundant around the island of Ireland. 

“We are now, as a country, beginning to become more aware of the potential wealth that can be generated by our seas. SeaFest offers a platform to engage the public in the importance of our seas and the contribution to our local and national economy.”

Figures released by SEMRU at Our Ocean Wealth Summit, held as part of SeaFest on Friday 30 June, show that Ireland’s ‘blue economy’ is performing better than the general economy, as previously reported on

On a local level, SeaFest 2017 generated €6.3 million in direct income for the city’s tourism industry.

Accommodation, restaurants and other businesses across Galway benefited from the huge influx of people that descended on Galway Harbour over the weekend.

“SeaFest was a spectacular success and once again shows Galway’s unrivalled capacity to hold national and international maritime events,” said Galway City Council’s Mayor Pearce Flannery. 

“Galway has enormous potential to become a leader in the marine world, given it is home to the Marine Institute and the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, and its natural harbour which is a magnificent resource for the city.”

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Herffernan said the festival “would not have been possible without the huge support from a wide range of local, regional and national agencies who came together to plan and stage this large-scale event. Our festival volunteers also played an important role in making SeaFest 2017 one to remember.”

Galway Harbour was transformed into a giant interactive ‘sea world’ for the three-day festival and the waterfront was awash with non-stop activities and entertainment for those of all ages. All the events taking place during SeaFest were all free for festival-goers. 

Crowds got to enjoy thrilling performances and breath-taking aerial acrobatics in the heart of the harbour from world women’s flyboard champion Kristen Smoyer and New Zealand’s Beau Weston. 

Free sailing and kayaking was on offer and the Irish Sailing Association — now rebranded as Irish Sailing — also offered disabled access for budding sailors over the weekend. 

Open tours were available on a number of vessels in the ship-filled harbour including the tall ship Phoenix, the Naval Service vessel LÉ Ciara, the Commissioners of Irish LightsGranuaile and the Marine Institute’s research vessel Celtic Explorer.

The huge display from the Defence Forces was popular with the young and young at heart. Elsewhere, BIM and Bord Bia’s Seafood Experience featured live cookery and fishmongery demonstrations, as well as interactive exhibits and displays of live fish and shellfish species. 

Marine-inspired entrepreneurs based in the West of Ireland shared their stories in the Marquee, while children got creative with the art and craft workshops in the dedicated Kids Zone, and enjoyed storytelling sessions, face painting and marine-art installations. 

Roving seafaring entertainment from sword-fighting pirates and giant sea-themed puppets also added to the exciting carnival atmosphere. 

SeaFest 2017 also extended to the Latin Quarter, Salthill and Rusheen Bay, while the Wild Atlantic – Sea Science gallery at Galway City Museum and an exhibition on polar explorer Roald Amundsen at NUI Galway were also part of the festival line-up.

SeaFest returns to Galway next summer from 29 June to 1 July 2018.

Published in Maritime Festivals
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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