Considered by many (and disputed by some) to be the second biggest natural harbour in the world, Cork Harbour encompasses Cork City and many of the islands and harbour towns along east cork amongst them Fota Island, Cobh and Crosshaven. With its many islands both inhabited and not, including Fota Island upon which our luxury 5 star Cork hotel is located, and with its vast outstretch of ocean, the waters, islands and coastal ports and towns off Cork harbour provide the ideal spot for a number of watersports, activities and sea related festivals and events in the summertime.

Of the many Cork festivals and events that are happening in the waters and surrounding coastal towns and islands in Cork Harbour over the summer, the annual Ocean to City Race meeting that takes place in late May over the June bank holiday weekend is one to watch as all eyes will be on the waters off Cork City and on the surrounding land as the city and immediate surrounds. Alternatively known as An Rás Mór, it is Ireland’s only long-distance rowing race: attracting hundreds of participants from both here and abroad every year to take part and compete, and draws vast crowds attracted to the races and the many race related events and festivities.

Whilst this years tenth year running of the Ocean to City Race will run on Saturday 31st May 2014, there is much more to it than rowing races. Over the four days of the festival be prepared to be entertained and drawn into the many ocean related events, celebrations and festivities taking place on land and at sea. From seeing the big races and cheering on the competitors from ones base by the quays on the big day to taking part in special rowing classes for the beginner, taking a special tour of the naval areas, watching sea faring themed films at the Triskel Arts Centre, or taking in the many celebrations occurring well into the night in the many pubs and restaurants in Cork City and the surrounding areas of Cork Harbour (amongst them on Fota Island), the four days (from Friday to Monday) of the Ocean to City Maritime Festival, make it the perfect a June Bank holiday activity for those considering family hotel breaks in Cork.

And for people interested in the all-inclusive rowing races taking place on Saturday, there are four to take in, all divided over four distances: Ocean to city(15 nautical miles); City (12 nautical miles); Monkstown (7 nautical miles) and the Blackrock Youth race (2.5 nautical miles). Of the four the 15 nautical mile Ocean race is the main event. Taking advantage of the natural attractions of Cork Harbour, the main race starts at the harbour town of Crosshaven, passes onto the mouth of Cork Harbour at Roches Point and heads towards the city centre. Along the way the competitors pass a number of Cork Harbours many noted landmarks, islands and coastal towns such as Cobh, Spike Island and Haulbowline, home of the Irish Naval base, before going flat out for a thrilling finish for the final stretch of the race at the entrance to Lough Mahon by Blackrock Castle. Here they will be cheered on by the crowds who will have gathered onshore by cork city quays to watch the spectacle whilst engaging in the many family friendly onshore attractions of the event (amongst them face painting and food and drink stalls).

So whether you are interested in the exciting spectacles of the races, the many festivities on offer on the day, or are keen to take advantage of the many Ocean to City Race related events, celebrations and activities happening in the city centre, nearby towns and islands in Cork Harbour in the four days of the festival, then a short break in Cork or a self catering break on the June Bank Holiday may be in order. And for visitors to the area hoping to take in the many draws of the race and the related festival then a visit to one of the leading 5 Star hotels near Cork may be the perfect choice. Situated right in the middle of cork harbour you can get close to the action and celebrations at your own pace all the while taking in all the draws of the worlds disputed second largest harbour.