Bloom 2024: Opening times, ticket costs, 22 show gardens and 13 postcard garden designs to view

Ireland’s annual festival of flowers has arrived, with themes of environmental impact and climate change looming large

It’s Bloom time, that weekend in the Irish gardening year when we collectively convince ourselves that the sun shines in Ireland all year round and that picnics on the lawn dressed in boater hats and gingham sundresses are a good idea.

When is it on?

Bloom 2024 takes place this bank holiday weekend from Thursday, May 30th, until Monday, June 3rd. The festival runs from 9am to 6pm each day.

Where is it on?

The festival is in the area around the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, Dublin. The centre is located on the main Chesterfield Avenue road which runs from the park’s main gate at Parkgate Street to the Castleknock gate.

Where can I buy tickets?

Tickets for Bloom, which are valid for one day only, can be purchased through the Ticketmaster website. Adult tickets are €30 and concession tickets, for students and senior citizens (aged 66 and over), are €25. Admission is free for up to two under-12s per paying adult. Tickets for additional children are €5 each.

How do I get there?

By foot: Bloom is easily accessible by foot – it is about a 30-minute walk from the gate at Parkgate Street to the front entrance of the festival. From the Ashtown or Cabra park gates, it is a five-minute walk to the back entrance of the festival.

By bike: Attendees can cycle right up to the Bloom entrances and park and lock their bikes in the available cycle parks.

By train/Luas: If you are travelling by train or Luas, the closest station to the festival is Heuston. You can then hop on the free shuttle service operating from Parkgate Street to Bloom and back. The shuttle will be operating from 8.30am to 7pm each day. Organisers are advising visitors to leave 90 minutes from departing Bloom to your train departure time.

By bus: There are several public bus routes that can be taken. Routes 7, 38, 38A, 38B, 38D, 39, 39A, 70, 70D and 122 stop on the Navan Road which is a 15-minute walk to the back entrance of Bloom. The 46a stops at the North Circular Road entrance which is a 30-minute walk to the show.

By car: If you are travelling by car from the city centre, you can use the Parkgate Street, Cabra or NCR entrances to the park. Traffic from north of the city or the M50 can enter the park using the Castleknock, Ashtown, Knockmaroon and Chapelizod gates.

Tickets for parking cost €10 for the day and can be purchased in advance on the Ticketmaster website.

What will you see?

Bloom is no longer the tender annual that it was when it made its first appearance in the Phoenix Park back in 2007 but is now a hardy perennial. Its core attractions, however, remain mostly the same, with its show gardens still the main stars of the five-day event.

This year’s clutch of garden designers includes plenty of seasoned exhibitors well acquainted with the pressures of building a show garden to an immovable deadline while simultaneously balancing the demands of sponsors and the vagaries of Irish weather.

Among them is the writer, broadcaster, designer and interior architect Leonie Cornelius, whose small garden balcony design Óir: The Zarbee’s Garden celebrates the vital role that bees play in our world. From pollinating the planet’s food crops (according to the UN, a third of the world’s food production depends upon bees) and playing a key part in the life cycle of seed-bearing plants to providing food and medicinal substances including honey, royal jelly and propolis as well as bee’s wax, we owe an incalculable amount to these tiny creatures.

Cornelius isn’t the only award-winning designer who’ll be exhibiting at this year’s Bloom. Also taking part is the well-known design duo Liat & Oliver Schurmann, owners of Dublin-based Mount Venus nursery, who are back for the 12th time with their concept show garden In Perspective, sponsored by the European Commission. Always bringing a thoughtful elegance to their work, their climate change-inspired show garden explores how humankind leaves its print upon the landscape and how we need to heal our fractured relationship with the natural world.

Other experienced, award-winning designers exhibiting at this year’s show include the landscape architect Nicola Haines. Her show garden for Fingal County Council is Coming Home to Nature. It highlights how responsible, tech-savvy design is helping us to meet certain challenges, from mitigating urban flooding through sustainable urban drainage systems to supporting biodiversity by creating different habitats.

Bloom newcomers Gavin Saunders and Stephen Mackle’s balcony-sized small show garden similarly focuses on how green-minded urban dwellers can garden in ways that are kind to the planet. Meanwhile, the designer Nóra Tombor’s show garden Rewild! shows how a formerly manicured lawn can be transformed into a biodiverse space where wildflowers and wildlife thrive.

Celebrating the beauty and history of the Irish landscape as well as its archaeology is another theme of this year’s show gardens. The design for Rathcroghan Ogham Alphabet show garden is inspired by the Ogham inscription at the entrance to Oweynagat (Cave of the Cats) in Rathcroghan, Co Roscommon, one of the royal sites of Ireland. Also sometimes known as the Celtic Tree alphabet, the letters in the Ogham alphabet are named after native Irish trees such as hazel, oak and holly, and feature in the design as an Ogham totem pole that visitors can use to spell out words and names.

Alongside its 22 show gardens, 13 tiny postcard garden designs will also be on display at this year’s show, created by a variety of community groups from around the country

Bloom’s garden displays aside, visitors can enjoy an array of displays of floral art by members of Aoifa (Association of Irish Floral Artists) and botanical art by members of Isba (Irish Society of Botanical Artists). Both can be found in the show’s Nursery Village, where visitors can also find stands from some of the country’s best specialist nurseries.

Bloom’s garden stage is another popular feature, with this year’s event featuring guest speakers Fiann Ó'Nualláin, Monica Alvaréz, Jimi Blake, Paul Smyth and Niall McAuley.

Last but not least is the location itself. Set next to the magnificent Victorian walled garden of Ashtown Castle and within the grounds of the Phoenix Park, it’s a spectacular backdrop that serves as a powerful testimony to the skill, craft and hard graft of the generations of gardeners who helped to create it.

Where can I grab something to eat?

There are plenty of options when it comes to food at Bloom. From picnic areas to food stalls, and the Bistro Bloom “serving the best of Irish produce in a carvery setting”, there is something for everyone.

Attendees hoping to dine in the Garden View Restaraunt, which overlooks the show gardens, should book in advance on the Bloom website.

Attendees can also relax at the Bloom Inn where there will be cooking demonstrations and opportunities to “sip something special from Ireland’s best brewers and distillers”.

Anything else?

There will be free waterpoints for water bottle refills located at the entrances to the event, the show gardens, the Budding Bloomers area, the picnic area and in the Food Village.

If you’re buying plants, you can put them aside until you’re ready to leave by using one of the two free plant crèches. There will also be a “wheelbarrow taxi service” to help people get their purchased plants back to their car if they are parked in either the Red or Green car park.

If you need any more information before you head to the festival, check out the Bloom website here. Meanwhile, take a look below for details of some highlights you don’t want to miss.

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