The June Bank Holiday weekend is upon us, the temperatures have been soaring, and the population of Ireland appears to have given a collective sigh of relief and headed for the great outdoors. Is Ireland not just the most magnificent place when the sun shows it’s beautiful face? We are blessed in this country to have sprawling countryside everywhere we turn, diamond coloured coasts, and the world of activities to avail of. My boyfriend and I decided that we wished to spend the long weekend outdoors in the sun. On Friday we headed for Lough Boora Parklands in County Offaly – full blog post to follow on that adventure, and on Sunday we hit for Bloom at the Pheonix Park. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to blog about the event by Darragh Doyle from ‘Irish Bloggers’, and Bord Bia. This meant that I had a media pass for the event, and could choose whichever day I chose to attend. I had intended to attend the event anyway, but heading as a blogger just made it all the more special.
First off, let me clear one thing up! If you are of the mindset that ‘Bloom’ is a gardening or gardeners only event, you are very much mistaken! In fact, at one point I found myself being treated to a mini eyebrow shaping by a beauty supplier in a marquee. Bord Bia really have their homework done when it comes to hosting festivals. This year marks the 10th Anniversary of Bloom, and they pulled out all the stops. There is literally something for everyone at the Bloom Festival from clothes, to food sampling, breathtaking gardens to a Main Stage Area. It has a really strong Electric Picnic and Body and Soul festival vibe. Bloom is a feast for the senses. The mixture of age-groups is also astounding, with young and old flocking to the Pheonix Park over the past few days in their thousands. A typical day at Bloom involves a nice amount of walking, and exploring. The area is huge, but yet very accessible. The car-parks are very well laid out and supervised. Early arrival is a must as the place can get really busy. We managed to see all of the exhibits in about four hours, but you are free to stay in the grounds until 6pm therefore you can take the day at your own pace. From the moment you enter the festival site you are bombarded with stands and exhibits.
We headed for the Grand Pavillion first, where the best of Irish crafts and wares are on display. Here you can test samples of many products from candles to clothes. Some products I was particularly drawn towards here were ‘Emma’s So-Naturals’. This is an Irish business set up by Emma Fallon in 2010 which sells eco-soy candles. These candles do not contain any parabens, paraffin, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrance. Not only do they smell DIVINE, the packaging is among the cutest I have ever witnessed on an Irish product. The man selling the candles on the day was so informative explaining that they are all handmade in Ireland, they contain no palm oils, and they are long lasting and clean burning without soot build-up. I picked up a Wax Tart Melt on the day for my oil-burner. Stunning products. Check out Emmas’ website at http://emmas.ie/ .
Another stand that really stood out to me in The Grand Pavillion was the ‘BPerfect’ exhibit. Here I got chatting to the loveliest lady who talked me through the BPerfect Range, and it’s benefits. They stock everything from primers to tans. This business was started in Belfast in 2012, and has been growing steadily since. I was particularly impressed with the Eyebrow kit. The lady was kind enough to demonstrate the product on my own brows. I was astounded at the simplicity of the product. Within two minutes my brows appeared fuller and more shapely. The kit comes with a powder, 3 different shape/size stencils, and double ended brush for a flawless finish. The powder is water resistant, smudge proof, sweat proof, and lasts up to 24 hours or until you remove it with makeup remover, this I can vouch for as my eyebrow make-up did not budge until I removed it with a facial wipe that night. It also comes in 4 shades for the perfect match.Check out their products online at http://www.bperfectcosmetics.com/ .
Further down the Pavillion I met a fellow County Galway person exhibiting his wares. I had heard of ‘Rí na Mara’ prior to Bloom as it is stocked in a local health shop, but it was lovely to try out the products. The facial cream being my favourite. Rí na Mara are an Iirish Seaweed Cosmetics Range, and are based in An Spidéal, County Galway. They have six products developed at present, including a Bodylotion and a Seaweed Shower Gel, all which seem so luxurious. I love the fact that this business harvest all of their plants off the West Coast of Ireland making for the highest quality, luxury products. Check out their products at http://rinamara.com/.
Leaving the Grand Pavillion, we headed for BBQ Bliss as hunger was setting in at this stage. The place was buzzing, and the sun was beaming down upon the Pheonix Park. We picked up two Irish gourmet beef burgers from ‘The Premium Butcher’ stand. They made for the perfect lunch in the picnic area. I loved BBQ BLISS, it is basically a small section of Bloom that celebrates the Summer BBQ season. There was so much to choose from Indian barbecue delicacies to paella dishes. The mouth-watering aroma wafting around this area was just incredible.
In the afternoon we took in the RTE Stage where George Hamilton was carrying out some hilarious interviews with children that were attending Bloom for the day. The Show Gardens were just around the corner, and a must whether a spot of gardening tickles your fancy or not. They are in a word, breathtaking. You cannot help but be mesmerised by the beauty of these stunning masterpieces. The show gardens contained everything from water features, to the most exotic flowers one could ever imagine. My favourite was by far the ‘Livin La Vida 120 Garden’. This particular garden won the overall prize at Bloom this year and it wasn’t difficult to see why. It was created by Alan Rudden in association with the popular Santa Rita 120 wines. Alan drew inspiration from Casa Real, the home of the 120 estate near Santiago when designing this garden. You can see for yourself in the images below just how visually stimulating this garden really is!
Towards the end of the afternoon we stumbled upon the Kids’s section. This section really highlighted for me just how amazing this festival is. Children of all ages were happily frolicking in the O-Egg section learning about how hens produce eggs, or listening to stories told me enthusiastic perfomers in the ‘Clap-Handies’ tent. I’m not afraid to admit that we enjoyed this area immensely 🙂
At this point the sun was scorching and the place was a hive of activity so we sat for a while on a beanbag at The Main Stage where the Garda band were churning out tune after tune and really knew how to keep an audience happy! At one point they played the theme tune from ‘Spongebobs Squarepants’ which resulted in a stamepede of little folk hurtling forward to form a mosh pit at the front of the stage! I cannot fully do justice to the diversity of this festival in a blog post, there is an element to please all. Just amazing!
To our sheer delight, we came on the Food Village next. This section was easily my favourite. I had reached Food Heaven. Every type of Irish food product you can imagine had an exhibit in this area from ‘The Happy Pear’ to ‘Carroll’s Meats’. Nevin Maguire and Catherine Fulvio were also hosting cooking demonstrations on the stage which attracted huge crowds. Keelings had the cutest exhibit whereby they gave growing tips and sold their strawberries, but also had a cute learning dome where children could actually grow their own strawberries. What a nice touch!
Little testers of food products were available at almost every stand and the exhibitors were more than forthcoming with information about their products. ‘Boutique Baking’ was my personal favourite on the day. This type of product is right up my street as I adore baking. Their cheerful packaging definately drew my attention towards the stand, and the exhibitor was so friendly. An award winning business, they sell the cutest boxes of bake mixes from ‘Carrot Cake Mixtures, and ‘Brown Bread Mixtures’ to ‘Brownie Mix’. You take these home and add ingredients such as eggs, ad sunflower oil, to make the perfect brown bread or carrot cake. I picked up two and will blog about these products when I have tried them! Such a nifty little Irish product that came to fruition from a little kitchen in Donnybrook, Dublin! Check them out here at http://www.boutiquebake.ie/ .
One for the weddings, ‘Mallow Mia’ were another one of my favourites on the day. They produce gourmet marshmallows from Donegal. They come in some amazing flavours,a nd are so light. the packaging is luxurious. I couldn’t but pick up a bag. In my opinion, if you are looking for wedding favours with a difference, or something sweet for a party, Mallow Mia have got you covered! And just to top it all off, the mallows are made using all natural ingredients and are gluten free! Check them out on facebook – Mallow Mia Gourmet Marshmallows.
‘Chocolate Garden of Ireland’, what can I say. They are the chocolate gods. They even personalise their chocolate bars, and present everything so beautifully. They had the most mouth-watering stands in the Food Village. It was constantly swarming with people. They make every kind of chocolate imaginable from chocolate buttons to bars with messages written on them such as ‘World’s Best Dad’ and humourous Irish sayings such as ‘Eejit’. This is a quality Irish product, and the packaging is to die for. Check them out on facebook – Chocolate Garden of Ireland’
Having bought and consumed enough at this stage, we headed for the Main Stage Area where sat blissfully in the sun listening to Northern band ‘The 4 of Us’, what an amazing gig. I said it before and I will say it again, there is nothing quite like the joy music brings to people young and old. A wave of happiness washed over me as hundreds of people sang every word of their hit song ‘Mary’ with the band for their finale. All of this washed down with a McGargles Berry Cider.. perfection!
What a stunning day! Bloom is meticulously ran, everything runs like clockwork. It is a safe, enjoyable, day out for the entire family. Everywhere on the site is accessible, with toilet facilities always close by, and a baby changing facility. I particularly loved the ‘Plant Creche’ where one could leave their purchases in to be minded for a couple of hours while they explored the rest of the festival. Parking cost €5, I found this to be very reasonable as there was security everywhere and the car-parks were so near to the entrances. If you find yourself at a loose end next year or sitting on the fence in deciding whether to head to Bloom or not, just GO!!! You will not be dissapointed and personally, I cannot wait to return.
I will leave you with some images from my day…
Until next year Bloom! x