Bloom in the Park starts today and is the biggest event in Ireland’s garden and food calendar. It’s the best value family experience in the country and shouldn’t be missed. Don’t forget, kids go free. Below are my top ten ways you can maximize your Bloom experience…

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bloom image 1. Love it when a plan comes together…

Give yourself time. It’s a great show and it needs a few hours to really maximize it. Leave early and get in before the crowds and the heat of the day. Plan your route in and decide which car park or mode of travel suits best. Details here. Bring plenty of water, some sun cream, a sun hat and some rain proofs just in case the weather changes its mind. If you’re bringing the kids, make sure they’re covered, well hydrated and you might consider a change of clothes. Tissues/wipes are essential for cleaning up melting ice cream!

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bloom image talking 2. Bend some ears…

Whether you’re looking to develop your garden, keep some bees or build your culinary skills, Bloom is the place to go. The event draws together the best of the best in Irish gardening and cuisine and is a great opportunity to speak to the experts face to face. If you’re looking for some specific advice, write a list of the questions you want answered before you go and review the exhibitor plan to find the best people/companies to help you. Also, check out the Woodies Expert Stage and Events Listings for specific talks and demos of interest. The experts are there to help so don’t be afraid to bend some ears. For garden advice visit stand G63, The Garden and Landscape Designers Association.

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bloom image 3. Nab bargains, win prizes…

The event might be an inspiring spectacle of all things tasty and green but there’s a commercial side too. There are countless companies offering deals on everything from garden furniture, plants, specialist foods, sculpture, water harvesting, clothing and everything in between. Know what you want, find it and don’t be afraid to chance your arm with a cheeky haggle. Enter every competition you can find. If you’re not in…

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bloom relaxing 4. Take a load off…

All the inspiration and entertainment can take its toll, but thankfully The Phoenix Park venue offers a whole host of retreats and rest points; find a quiet spot beneath a tree, have a family lunch in the picnic area, commandeer a hammock or a family bean bag and kick back, grab a tasty brew at the Bloom Inn or simply grab a spot by the main stage and soak up the vibes, tunes and rays. Bloom is like a family garden but for the whole country: Use it to share, converse, laugh, have fun, dine and chill. Image source

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show garden 5. Spark your imagination…

Not sure what to do with your garden, or for that matter, how to spice up your cuisine? Bring a note book, camera and a knapsack for gathering information leaflets (remember that many experts and companies will have websites so try to avoid collecting too much paper!). The amazing show gardens and stunning floral marquee will provide much food for thought on what the possibilities are for your garden, and the huge array of food stalls and demos have all the ingredients to make you the next Master Chef. But don’t forget to take pictures and notes!

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bloom family fun 6. Young and old…

Bloom is a family event and it’s a great venue to bring them together. Give nan and granddad a call and treat them to a day out (everything is easy access). Barrel the kids in the car and let them get inspired, enthralled and amazed with the fun activities created especially for them (remember, they get in for free!)…while you pick out plants, read the paper or go ale tasting! Having such a range of events, open spaces, and tasty food choices, it’s perfect for you and the whole gang. And unlike some other summer events, it’s a great value day.

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pheonix park 7. Sense the space…

With all that’s going on, it can be easy to miss one of the most important aspects of the show: the venue. The Pheonix Park is a magical place in its own right so give yourself a few minutes, find a quiet spot and simply admire it. It’s richness, its history, its trees and meadows. Breathe it in; it’s a tonic for the mind, soul and body.

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learning and growing 8. Learn and grow…

Thinking about developing your gardening or culinary skills? Bloom is a great place to get started and it doesn’t matter what age or level of experience you have. Some of the amazing activities on offer include the Budding Bloomers, which will engage your children everything green; Grow it Yourself, for those of you thinking about or already growing your own fruit and veg; Cup Cake Camp…for young chefs who like getting creative with icing for a good cause; you’ll also find Birdwatch Ireland, Dublin Zoo, the Tree Council and numerous organisation and activities dedicated to growing your knowledge.

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food 9. The ultimate food experience…

The culinary aspects of Bloom could be a standalone event. Featuring an Artisan Market, Meat, Fish and fresh produce markets and an Artisan Catering area there will be no shortage of enticing treats. Don’t be shy about sampling everything on offer…that’s what it’s there for.

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talking 10. It’s great to talk…

As nation we love to chat, and in my experience, the folks involved with food and plants are the most interesting and engaging in the country. Couple this with a relaxed outdoor atmosphere, music, dance, food, flowers and family fun and you’ve a recipe for some great conversation. From solving the world’s problems in the Environmental Zone, comparing notes on braised beef or peony cultivation, or simply reviewing match highlights over a beer you’re guaranteed to find passionate people with stimulating things to share. Enjoy.

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Bloom takes place from today, Thursday 30th of May until Monday 3rd June. Full details of the event can be found here and you can buy tickets online here.