Kildare town pulls out all the stops for a memorable Derby Festival

The fun and festivities of the Derby don’t just happen at the Curragh Racecourse.

The fun and festivities of the Derby don’t just happen at the Curragh Racecourse.

For the past 34 years, the people of Kildare town have brought the craic on the Curragh to the town and its surrounds as they host their annual Derby Festival.

The week-long series of events is run on a purely voluntary basis, and does not have any major sponsor.

“It’s a sort of miracle that we keep going,” said Kildare Town Derby Festival Committee chairman Ollie Kearns.

The year’s festival will cost around E25,000 to stage - a large sum but down, nevertheless from the E40,000 that it used to cost in its heyday.

This money is raised through the sales of the programme, the staging of the annual Derby Queen pageant and fundraisers through the year including the sale of Christmas Cards.

This year, the hardworking volunteers on the festival committee have put together a great week’s entertainment to coincide with the running of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby on the Curragh at the end of this month.

The action kicks off this Friday, June 22, with the finals of the Kildare Derby Festival Queen at the Derby House Hotel at 8pm. Tickets are E10 each and all are welcome.

A Mikado outdoor concert takes place at the Japanese Gardens from Tuesday 26 to Thursday 28 June. Tickets cost E35 and early booking is advisable at 045 521251. (see page 29 of this week’s Leinster Leader for more on this event).

The annual Bessie Byrne sponsored walk leaves Market Square at 7pm on the Wednesday night.

On Thursday, there will be a jumbo cake sale and coffee morning, hosted by the Eve Harvest Centre and Rehab from 10.30am to 2pm at the CWMS Hall.

That evening, there will also be a poetry and storytelling night with Mae Leonard from 7.30pm at Aras Bhride.

Racing at the Curragh is off on the Friday evening, but that doesn’t mean the action is set to slow down in Kildare town.

On Friday night, June 29, the free open-air final of Kildare’s Got Talent will take place in Market Square at 8pm.

On Saturday, there will be a fun day at Tesco from 10am to 4pm. The Best Buddies competition kicks off at Market Square at 7pm, followed by free live music from Kym Kelly and Crystal Swing. A gala night’s entertainment is planned for the last day of the Derby Festival on Sunday, with free live music from Feedback and Bagatelle on Market Square.