Seafest crowds could exceed 100,000

The wonders of the sea — Young JM Browne from Knocknacarra gets up close with a sea creature at last year's SeaFest maritime festival. Seafest runs all weekend with events for all the family. Photo:Andrew Downes, xposure

The wonders of the sea — Young JM Browne from Knocknacarra gets up close with a sea creature at last year's SeaFest maritime festival. Seafest runs all weekend with events for all the family. Photo:Andrew Downes, xposure

Galway city is preparing for a massive influx this weekend as crowds flock to attend the national maritime festival, SeaFest. The event is being launched by Mayor Pearce Flannery in the city this evening and is already set to be the best one ever.

Organisers say many hotels are already booked out as delegates fly in to take part in a global ocean science summit and families from all across Ireland prepare to take staycations in the city during the festival.

Festival chairman Dr John Killeen says Seafest has generated enormous interest at home and abroad establishing itself as a global leader in ocean research and the biggest family friendly free festival of its kind in the country this year.

“With the level of hotel and restaurant bookings we are seeing, we estimate that the maritime festival based around the Harbour and the Ocean Summit at NUI Galway will be worth at least €5 million in direct income and many times more in indirect spending,” he said.

“Seafest has grown from a small event, which attracted 10,000 visitors in its inaugural year in Cork, to one of the most talked about festivals of the year which is expected to attract between 80,000 and 100,000 to Galway over the next four days,” added Mr Killeen.

According to Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute, the combination of serious scientific research which is being done in and out of Galway and the city’s location as an ocean gateway makes it an ideal location to stage an event like Seafest.

“Especially as it is happening at a time when Ireland is becoming a global hub for blue technology, with a number of companies providing world-class expertise in specialised areas of the marine sector such as data analytics, marine electronics, and the design and build of offshore vessels,” he added.

Work on construction of the Seafest dockside tented village got under way on Monday as construction teams moved in erect the pavilions and marquees which will house interactive marine exhibitions; business and “creative entrepreneur” presentations and shows as well as a daily seafood extravaganza and cookery demonstrations.

The first of the 100 ships and boats which will cram the harbour during “Seafest” arrived on Monday afternoon.

For more details on Seafest, see inside and check out www.seafest.ie

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