VIDEO: Take a tour of the massive National Ploughing Championships site

More than 200,000 people are expected to attend this year’s National Ploughing Championships which gets underway in Co Laois this morning.

President Higgins will officially open the event - which will feature more than 1,500 stands.

Heavy showers are expected over the coming days - and Gardaí are warning motorists to expect slow-moving traffic around the site.

Now in their 84th year - the National Ploughing Championships are considered the flagship event in Irish agriculture, and is regarded as the biggest outdoor exhibition and agricultural trade show in Europe.

Last year’s championships were the biggest yet - with over 279,000 people visiting the 800-acre site in Ratheniska, Co Laois - spending over €36.5m.

Almost €10m of that was spent on food. Personal shopping accounted for about €7m.

Organisers say they have similar expectations for the three days ahead.

With a General Election on the horizon, the usual influx of politicians is expected to be even more significant, while there will be a heavy focus fashion, music and motoring.

A protest that was due to take place against the construction of pylons at the Ploughing Championships this week has been cancelled.

Anti-pylon groups say that there were safety concerns over the demonstration.

They say that there may have been health and safety implications for holding a protest on "such a divisive and emotive issue" at a family event.

Wind Aware Ireland said that the danger of an individual or group acting unilaterally at an event with so many children present was a deciding factor in cancelling the demonstration.

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