This year, Galway City and County in Ireland have the honour of hosting the European Capital of Culture which is why we are choosing Galway as our featured location of the month!
The small harbour city of Galway lies on the west coast of Ireland, where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a city renowned for its vibrant lifestyle and hosting a number of festivals and events, such as the Galway Arts Festival, and of course the European Capital of Culture 2020. Those who have travelled around Ireland would agree that Galway is Ireland’s most charming city, with its cobble-stoned streets, friendly locals and traditional pubs and restaurants.
The History of Galway
Galway’s history spans over nearly 800 years. From the Medieval Times when St Nicolas’s Church was built, to the 17th century when wars in Ireland led to a siege in Galway and ultimately leading to decline, and the 20th and 21st century, when the city really began to prosper again, welcoming new citizens and tourists, Galway is certainly rich in history.
Things to see in Galway
Galway is the 4th largest city in Ireland that offers an abundance of things to do with family and friends, or as a solo traveller.
Connemara National Park
Covering almost 3000 hectares of magnificent mountains, bogs, heaths and forests, Connemara National Park is one of Ireland’s six national parks. The park first opened to the public in 1980 and has remained a national treasure ever since, with its nature trails, historic ruins and picnic areas.
Galway City Museum
Galway City Museum overlooks the famous Spanish Arch, a remainder of a 16th century bastion that was added to the town’s walls to protect merchant ships from looting. It’s spread over three floors and features exhibits on Galway’s history, archaeology and sea science. Anyone can visit the museum free of charge.
Every Saturday in the centre of Galway city, the bustling Galway Market takes place. The Galway Market has existed for hundreds of years, selling everything from freshly prepared ready to eat food and fruit, to locally sourced crafts. There’s even some live music to enjoy. Before you know it, a visit to the market will turn into a shopping expedition!
Not only is Galway Cathedral one of the city’s finest and largest buildings, it’s also the last great stone cathedral to ever be built in Ireland. Inside the cathedral features stunning rose windows and wall paintings, whilst the outside features an impressive octagonal dome, a real highlight to Galway’s skyline. Visitors can join in with mass which is celebrated every day in the cathedral at 9am, 11am and 6pm.
Also known as the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, Eyre Square is Galway’s main public square that has existed in Galway ever since medieval times. The square was originally a town green in front of the old gates used for markets, nowadays, it’s filled with people relaxing during summer and exploring Christmas markets during winter. Here marks the spot where John F. Kennedy made a speech to around 100,000 people in 1963, hence why the square is named after him.
European Capital of Culture
The European Capital of Culture 2020 kicked off in Galway at the beginning of February with quite a magnificent opening ceremony. The celebration aims to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe, celebrate the cultural features Europeans share and increase European citizens’ sense of belonging to a common cultural area. Galway 2020 themes focus specifically on migration, landscape and language.
In order to host the event, Galway had to submit a proposal for consideration, along with any other city wishing to compete. Hosting the European Capital of Culture is the perfect opportunity for cities to breath new life into culture and boost tourism.
Throughout the entire year, there will be an extraordinary showcase of events such as exhibitions, music and theatre festivals and workshops, highlighting Galway’s rich and diverse culture.
You can find out more about Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture and what events are on throughout the year here.
Alternatively, if you’re interest in booking a trip to Galway to experience the celebrations, please get in touch with Best of Scotland Holidays. We offer a whole range of experiences to Ireland, including Galway.