Summer 2021 officially kicks off with the Kildare Derby Festival and June Fest 

Summer 2021 officially kicks off with the Kildare Derby Festival and June Fest

As one of the most eagerly awaited sporting and social events of the summer, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the famous Curragh Racecourse is one that usually attracts crowds in their droves

Although a very small number of people will be permitted into the grounds for festival (in line with Government advice), racing will be held behind closed doors for the second year in a row. Indeed it would be easy to assume this would put a dampener on events but this is most certainly not the case, thanks to the fantastic line-up on offer during the 2021 Kildare Derby Festival

This, paired with the amazing array of events on the cards for Newbridge’s June Fest, means that Kildare is the place to be this month.  

Taking place from the 27th May to the 30th June and celebrating its 10th birthday this year, June Fest reinforces the sentiment behind the slogan 'Newbridge or Nowhere'. Run by non-profit organisation White Lily Events, the festival is steeped in culture, heritage, music and more and prides itself on encouraging community participation in the arts. The family friendly celebration plays host to a wide range of unique and interesting activities, many of which are free of charge. Given the continued enforcement of certain Covid-19 restrictions in line with public health guidelines, many events on the June Fest programme will be held online.  

With so much to choose from, it will be an easy task to quickly fill up the June diary, but be sure to save ample space for the Kildare Derby Festival

Now well into its fourth decade, the well-loved annual festival is hosted in Kildare Town in celebration of the Irish Derby. While it coincides with one of the biggest weekends in the country’s sporting calendar, it is not just an event for race fans. Although the Kildare Derby Festival is usually the social event of the year for the town, this year it is operating in a smaller capacity with virtual and outdoor events. 

A popular attraction in the annual Kildare Derby Festival programme is the Racing Legends Museum, which is located in Kildare Town’s old Courthouse. This year’s exhibition promises to be bigger than ever, with a wide array of historical racing artifacts and memorabilia on show. Arguably one of the biggest draws for both race fans and novices alike will be the racing silks that were carried by the famous Shergar during his Derby victory. Also on show will be a special section for Shergar owner, the Aga Khan, which will provide an opportunity to learn more about his many other Derby champions. 

A must-visit for horse racing history buffs, the Racing Legends experience will feature exhibits with famed Curragh regulars, such as PJ Prendergast; the first Irish trainer to win the British Trainers’ Championship for three consecutive years, from 1963 to 1965. Also featured in this year’s exhibition is JM Rogers, the trainer of two Epsom Derby winners Hard Ridden, who came in on top in 1958, and Santa Claus, who won in 1964. A rare glimpse of the historical action will be made available through old black and white archive footage, which showcases Derby snippets from the early part of the 20th century.  

Those who wish to soak up the atmosphere of the Derby from the comfort of their own homes can do so by tuning into ‘Kildare Derby Chats’; a podcast on June 27th from 1pm with speakers such as Johnny Murtagh, Jim Kavanagh, Willie McCreery, Dessie Scahill and Cathal Daniels, Irish Olympic team jockey and silver medallist at World Equestrian Games. Organised by Hive Youth Radio and hosted by television presenter Kevin O’ Ryan, racing enthusiasts can keep up with all the latest Derby updates while being entertained along the way. 

Those looking for something special will be suitably impressed by a kite display that is due to take place on The Curragh over the festival weekend. The visual spectacular will feature the creations of teenage students from local schools, who will make the kites during a workshop earlier in the month as part of the annual Cruinniú na nÓg festival

The full June Fest programme, with further information on events featured above as well as much more, can be found at

Further details on the Kildare Derby Festival line-up is available at

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