Every year on June 16th, book lovers all over the world celebrate James Joyce and his novel, Ulysses. It is a celebration called Bloomsday, named for the novel’s main character, Leopold Bloom.

Bloomsday banner
Photo courtesy of Yeats 2015
Bloomsday banner
Photo courtesy of Yeats 2015

James Joyce is one of the most famous Irish authors of the 20th century. Although he spent most of his adult life abroad, a majority of Joyce’s fictional stories take place in Dublin, Ireland.

Possibly Joyce’s most famous novel, Ulysses follows Leopold Bloom in Dublin. Joyce bases the novel heavily on Homer’s Odyssey, but instead of taking place over years, it takes place on a single day: June 16th, 1904.

James Joyce
Photo courtesy of Irish Times
James Joyce
Photo courtesy of Irish Times

The story follows Leopold Bloom through a typical day in Dublin, detailing his appointments and encounters. The date the story takes place has meaning as well: it is the date of James Joyce and his future wife Nora Barnacle’s first date.

The first official Bloomsday celebration happened on the 50th anniversary of the novel’s events in 1954, with a small group following in Leopold Bloom’s footsteps throughout Dublin. Since then, Bloomsday celebrations have grown substantially.

Bloomsday in Dublin
Photo courtesy of Irish Times
Bloomsday in Dublin
Photo courtesy of Irish Times

Each year in Dublin on Bloomsday, there is a range of different activities that you can take part in. Readings, pub crawls, and walking tours are just a few of the events that take place all over the city. They encourage attendees to dress in period clothing or even as James Joyce to further celebrate the day.

There are many locations throughout Ulysses that you can visit in Dublin, including Leopold Bloom’s home at 7 Eccles Street (now a private hospital), Sweny’s pharmacy, and the National Library of Ireland.

Bloomsday race in Spokane
Photo courtesy of Visit Spokane
Bloomsday race in Spokane
Photo courtesy of Visit Spokane

Bloomsday is not exclusive to Ireland. There are many other countries worldwide that celebrate on June 16th, including Italy, Australia, and the United States. Many cities across the United States take part, from readings to parades. There is even a Bloomsday Run that takes place annually in Spokane, Washington.


Are you a James Joyce fan? Have you heard of or celebrated Bloomsday? Let us know in the comments!