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Punchestown Festival

‘We're preparing for big crowds': Why this year's Punchestown Festival is the most exciting yet

Punchestown Festival is back for the first time in three years.

FOR THE FIRST time since 2019, spectators will gather at Punchestown Racecourse in Co Kildare for the long-awaited return of The Punchestown Festival.

Taking place from Tuesday April 26 to Saturday April 30, the festival is set to be bigger and better than ever, says Conor O’Neill, CEO of the racecourse.

“Over the past two years, empty enclosures, lifeless bars, faces behind masks and champions returning to a silent winners enclosure proved one thing for certain – people make the festival,” he says. “Advance ticket sales are a good pre-indictor of crowds and they are strong, so the team are preparing for what could be one of the biggest festivals yet.” 

O’Neill says the expected turnout is a “truly fitting homecoming” for the trainers, owners, jockeys and horses who took part in the festival in front of deserted grandstands and silent stadiums over the past two years.

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“The energy from the track feeds the enclosures,” he says. “The atmosphere is unbeatable.” Twelve grade one contests are set to take place, with “over €3.3 million in the purse”. 

But it isn’t just an event for horse racing fans – the festival offers a day out for the whole family. The Ballymore Festival Family Day is taking place on Saturday April 30, with entertainment for children including a funfair, face painting, an interactive games area, live music and dancing. Plus, children under 14 years of age can attend for free once accompanied with an adult.

Not to forget the famous Bollinger Best Dressed Lady competition – “an occasion to dress up for,” says O’Neill. The finalists will be selected on the first three days of the festival, with the finale taking place on Ladies’ Day, Friday April 29.

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The lucky winner will receive a “money-can’t-buy” prize of a VIP trip for two people to the exclusive Bollinger Estate in the champagne region of France. The winner and guest will enjoy a private tour of the estate and guided tasting experience, as well as Michelin star dining, chauffeur transfers, five-star accommodation and more.

In between races, there’s a selection of restaurants, pavilions, bars and private suites where you can enjoy seasonal food and beverages, says O’Neill, or you can browse the Osprey Avenue shopping area which will feature Irish brands with fashion, art, sculpture, homewares and lifestyle products.

Festival-goers can expect a “sound track of cheering, chat, live music and bustling bars,” says O’Neill, and – most importantly – “to celebrate the return of the good times”.

The Punchestown Festival runs from Tuesday April 26 to Saturday April 30. Tickets are available from just €30, with hospitality packages from €149pp. Book now and find out more here

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