Wednesday 20 September 2017

Five things to see and do at Bloom in the Park 2017

Bloom 2017 is officially open

Rebecca Lumley

A haven for horticulture lovers, fantastic for food fanatics and an excuse to get out into the sunshine - Bloom in the Park has returned to the Phoenix Park.

Celebrating its eleventh year running, Bloom is set to host more than 20 carefully constructed show gardens, created by some of Ireland’s most experimental designers.

If horticulture doesn’t snag your interest however, the festival offers plenty of options to keep attendees entertained.

1. Food, glorious food

Bloom’s food village is set to showcase a raft of Irish-produced food and will include a series of markets offering artisan and organic produce, meat and fish.

Local producers manning the over 110 food and drink stalls will be giving cooking tips, free samples and insider knowledge of the food industry. Visitors will also be encouraged to support Irish produce with the return of the Love Irish Food campaign.

If you’re looking for a sit-down meal, you have a few options. The Bloom Bistro encompasses a café, restaurant and seafood bar, where diners can eat al fresco on the adjoining patio.

There’s also the Country Crest Food Fayre, where all dishes are made with ingredients from the Country Crest farm and diners are encouraged to sample “craft meats.”

For more relaxed options, visitors can stop by any of the outdoor catering stalls or the in-house barbeque.

Whatever your taste, you won’t go hungry.

2. Live Entertainment

Bloom plays host to a number of stages showcasing different types of entertainment. If you prefer rummaging through sale racks than digging a garden, head along to the fashion stage at the Pavilion, where fashion shows will take place twice daily.

Live music will play in the festival’s picnic area, with a variety of emerging Irish acts performing each day. Visitors should keep an eye out for Viva Manilla (Thursday and Sunday), Manilla Strings (Monday) and The Mellowchords (Saturday, Sunday, Monday).

For people looking to recreate the festival’s garden displays, the garden Expert Stage is where you need to go. Demonstrations and talks will be provided by some of Bloom’s resident horticulturalists, with visitors encouraged to ask advice on burgeoning botanical queries.

3. Children at Bloom

A host of child-orientated activities are on offer for the small ones. The Book Clinic will offer literary recommendations for young readers, while science lovers should pay a visit to Scientific Sue. Scientific Sue will be enlisting children to help with environmental experiments, where diet cola, mentos and bath bombs will be tested for explosive results.

Family favourite, Billy Bubbles will perform magic shows, as well as re-incarnating the iconic Irish duo, Punch and Judy. Young children can make friends at Clap Handies’ social classes, while budding bloomers can learn the gardening ropes at the Little gardeners Planting Pot.

Children will also be offered a mini-travel experience when they are issued with a Bloom passport on arrival. They can travel the festival, collecting as many stamps as possible on their journey. Once returned, passport holders will be entered into a draw for family activity days at Rathbeggan Lakes, Co. Meath.

4. Shopping

It may not be Grafton Street but if you’re looking for unique, Irish-made products, the Grand Pavilion is the place to be. Divided into sections, the Pavilion offers home and garden accessories, while visitors can head to the “destination” area to avail of discounted holiday deals.

For hand crafted jewellery and homeware, see the Irish Craft Village, where designers will showcase their wares and provide live demonstrations and interactive craft installations.

And if you’re hoping to give your garden at home a facelift, you can buy the plants you see in the show gardens at Bloom’s Plant Village.

5. Farmyard

Finally, visitors can experience life on a farm at the Bloom Farmyard. Here you can view some of Ireland’s traditional farm animals, from dairy cows, beef heifers, calves, sheep, lambs, pig and chickens all on display.

Joan Mallon with Enable Ireland No Limits Garden at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Joan Mallon with Enable Ireland No Limits Garden at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Oliver and Liat Schumaan are putting the final touches on Garden Transition at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Behind the scenes at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Oliver Schumaan with his Garden Transition at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Oliver and Liat Schumaan are putting their final touches on Garden Transition at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park.Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Designer Brid Conroy perfecting her Despicable Me 3 garden ahead of the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Behind the scenes at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
The Despicable Me 3 garden by designer Brid Conroy at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park.Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Designer Tunde Szentesi's garden is a work in progress at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Designer Brid Conroy with her Despicable Me 3 garden at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Designer Tunde Szentesi with her garden at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park Photo: Kyran O'Brien
General set up at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park Photo: Kyran O'Brien
General set up at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park Photo: Kyran O'Brien
General set up at the Bloom Festival in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Visitors of all ages can talk to Irish farmers about their work and children can pet and feed the animals.

Bloom runs from June 1-5 this year, sprawling over a 70 acre site in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

It will be officially opened by President Michael D Higgins today.

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