Without fail every Limerick person loves the May bank holiday weekend for one main reason,after the fact that it is a long weekend and that sometimes the sunshine breaks through, it’s because that weekend is when the Riverfest festival occurs.
If you have ever wanted to visit Limerick, then you should consider paying that visit during these festivities. Riverfest is what it says on the tin, a festival of the river, in the water and surrounding the banks of the river. Limerick is where the river Shannon meets the sea estuary and the river winds its way around the city like veins, making it the heart of our city. Coming into its fourteenth year, Riverfest is set to see over eighty-five thousand people descend on our city.
No matter what age you are there is something to bring a smile to your face over the course of the bank holiday weekend. As the organisers say themselves it is a festival for foodies, runners, families, water sport enthusiasts and the city literally buzzes for the entire weekend. If barbecue is your thing then you will be happy to know that you can eat your way down the length of the river at the Riverfest BBQ competition where restaurants, pubs and individuals come from far and wide to win the coveted first spot. This is on from 12pm on Saturday until 5pm on Howley’s quay.
The festival kicks off with Friday fashion in Arthurs quay hosted by Celia Holman Lee with James Patrice co-hosting, and celebrates all of Limerick’s gorgeous boutiques. The Riverfest village, filled with stalls tempting you with sweets, turkish delights, artisan goods and food glorious food also opens in Arthurs quay park and runs until the Bank holiday Monday. Live music and street performers will keep every entertained here and there is plenty of carnival rides to keep the kids entertained. A little downside is the price of some of the sweet stalls so make sure to do a lap first to cost things.
Have you ever fancied zip lining , zorbing or kayaking on the Shannon? Then now is your chance, with plenty of water sports lined up the length of the river. A first this year is the arrival of the sea breecher , a daredevil shark craft who can get up to speeds of 80km. Over the years we have seen some amazing stunts on the river so I am sure this will be a great event for kids and families.
On Saturday and Sunday in the garden of the Hunt museum the Limerick food experience will be showcasing some of the local food and drink, I love the Hunt museum , it exhibits the largest private collection of art, artifacts and antiquities with special event exhibitions hosted throughout the year. Currently one of the exhibitions is about the Irish fashion designer Sybil Connolly where you can explore her career through clothes, sketchbooks, ceramics and glass.
During the festival they will be running a family event in the gardens. Dale Treadwell from naturally wild be showing how to make solitary bee homes in the bee garden. Places are limited here so make sure to check booking.
Of course the population of Limerick also swells with runners because in recent years the Great Limerick run happens on Sunday the 6th. Having ran the half marathon myself it’s safe to say most Limerick people have either walked or ran the ten kilometre, half or full marathon. People come out in force to encourage the runners along the route and there is something pretty special about feeling the support of your home town as you run the final few kilometres when your legs are starting to weaken. This year I will be firmly on the sidelines with the twins, cheering on the other half and many more I know and soaking up the buzz on the streets. The day before sees the UL kids run ,where junior infants up to sixth class pupils will run from one kilometre to 2.5 kilometre races.
For naval fans and kids big and small, the LE Eithne will be based at the Limerick docks and open for family tours on Saturday and Sunday between 2pm and 6pm. I know the twins will love this so I will make sure to get down to the docks. The Limerick docks brings back fond memories of when my Granda used to work security in a little hut at the gates many years ago. We would drop him in a flask of tea and cake to his little security hut where he has the radio on low in the background and thought how amazing he was minding the dockyards on his own. It will be nice to bring his great grandchildren down for their very first trip to the dockyards.
The highlight for us over the last few years has been the opening of the courtyard in King John’s castle for gigs, there really is something special about enjoying an intimate gig between the castle walls with the lights of the city behind you and the water lapping around you. It is a truly atmospheric night and with Bell X1 playing this Sunday, it is going to be a brilliant gig.
Fireworks are magical for all ages and at 10pm on Sunday the annual fireworks show will be on ,with viewing at Clancy’s strand and Sarsfield Bridge. Clancy’s strand is home to the Treat stone where the treaty of Limerick was signed in 1691.
Across the river is King John’s castle, in itself a brilliantly interactive family day out and a stunning backdrop to watch the evening’s fireworks display.
So if you cannot make it to Limerick this year I would strongly advise looking to Limerick for the May bank holiday weekend of 2019. Riverfest will be celebrating its fifteenth year running next year, I expect it will be another weekend filled with lots of wonderful memories made. If you do make it this weekend, you can be guaranteed a weekend full of fun, food , laughter and smiles await you.