Hands up who loves a good festival! I do! There’s something to suit all tastes from music and arts to walking and food. You’re spoiled for choice. To plan your visit to Ireland with a festival I thought it would be good idea to do a round-up of the must go to festivals. Whatever month you visit Ireland there’ll always be some festival on.
Temple Bar TradFest
Temple Bar Tradfest runs from the end of January in different locations around Dublin City. It’s a wonderful festival showcasing the cream of both Irish and international trad and folk artists while also providing a stage to promote the next generation of Irish musicianship.
Dingle Walking Festival
The Dingle Walking Festival is a popular winter event held in the middle of February. The festival offers a variety of guided coastal and hill walks in the area around the bustling town of Dingle at the western end of the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry.
Cork Tango Festival
The Cork Tango Festival starts around the second week of April. This is one festival I didn’t know existed. As a lover of dance I had to add it to the list. The festival offers an array of workshops for every level of dancer, from beginners to advanced. Let your inner dancer free!
Bray Jazz Festival
The International Bray Jazz Festival runs around the end of April. This festival is Ireland’s leading contemporary jazz and improvised music festival to be held with the greater Dublin area. Each year the programme is packed full of concerts featuring leading international artists and top Irish talent.
Dublin Dance Festival
The Dublin Dance Festival runs around mid-May. It’s the leading dance event on the Irish arts scene. The festival brings together dance artists and choreographers from across the world to share vibrant contemporary dance with audiences in Ireland.
Mayo International Choral Festival
The Mayo International Choral Festival runs around the last week of May. The festival takes the form of several international male/female adult choirs travelling to Mayo to partake on a competitive and non-competitive basis. Their visit includes a number of evening and daily performances county-wide, tours of Mayo and a gala concert on Saturday night. The theme of the festival is to allow choirs to meet with other choirs, relax and enjoy a great weekend in the beautiful West of Ireland. As this is local to me I might attend myself.
Killarney Beerfest runs around the last weekend of May. Learn the Beer 101 from the best in business with demonstrations, talks, tastings and lots more. There will also be live music each day and long into the night.
Listowel Writer’s Week Literary Festival
Listowel Writer’s Week Literary Festival runs around the first week in June. It’s an internationally acclaimed literary festival devoted to bringing together writers and audiences at unique events. The programme content includes workshops, competitions, readings, lectures, art exhibitions, music and literary and historical tours.
The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival
The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival runs around the June Bank Holiday weekend. This festival has grown from a small event to an internationally acclaimed festival showcasing the very best in Irish and international comedic talent. The festival attracts in excess of 30,000 visitors to Kilkenny.
Forbidden Fruit is a unique Dublin city centre festival that combines music, art, fashion and food. Held in the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the festival goer has a choice of music set across four stages.
Island Wildlife Weekend
Island Wildlife Weekend runs usually from the second week in June. It’s a weekend of outdoor fun and adventures on five of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way islands for families, singles and couples. Walks, talks, demonstrations, ceili, craic agus ceoil. All events are free!
Immrama Lismore Festival of Travel Writing
Immrama Lismore Festival of Travel Writing runs from the middle of June. My heart skipped a beat when I discovered this festival as I had no clue that a travel writing festival existed here in Ireland. Immrama is held in Lismore, Co. Waterford and has been dedicated to the art of travel writing, good music and fine entertainment since its beginning in 2003.
Sea Sessions runs from the end of June. Held in Bundoran, Co. Donegal, it claims to be the beach party weekend of the year.
Castlepalooza Music and Arts Festival
Castlepalooza Music and Arts Festival runs from the first weekend in July 2016. Held in Charleville Castle; as well as listening to the music, ticket holders have exclusive daily access to the castle where there art and film exhibitions, workshops and some surprise performances.
Street Performance World Championships
The Street Performance World Championships run from the second week of July in Dublin and the third week of July in Cork. It’s a free festival with performances, family workshops, food villages and much more.
Galway International Arts Festival
Galway International Arts Festival runs during the middle of July. It’s a creative collision of performance, music, visual art, theatre and spectacle. As well as organised events, the cobbled streets of Galway are transformed where every turn offers the possibility of a new adventure; surreal giant puppets snaking through the streets, enchanting music, enthralling musicians and awe-inspiring street theatre.
Longitude runs from the middle of July in Dublin’s Marlay Park. It is a no camping festival. With acts such as The Lumineers, The Coronas and The National, it’s one not to be missed.
Kilkenny Arts Festival
The Kilkenny Arts Festival usually runs around the beginning of August. It has gathered many of the world’s finest musicians, performers, writers and artists. The city’s churches, castle, courtyards, townhouses and gardens provide a magical setting for these unique performances.
The Rose of Tralee International Festival
This festival runs from the middle of August. It’s well-known here in Ireland and abroad if you’re of Irish descent. The festival incorporates seven fun-filled days of live music, children’s entertainment, fashion shows, workshops, markets, a circus, a funfair and the Rose parade; all culminating in the RTE Rose of Tralee TV show broadcast. The TV show, which is broadcast around the world, focuses on 28 or so women from all over the world who are Irish or of Irish descent and one is picked to be the Rose of Tralee. It’s considered a multi-faceted event, which celebrates the many attributes of the modern Irish woman.
Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival
The festival runs from the end of August. It’s a four day celebration, held in Waterville, Co. Kerry, packed with really creative events, premiers, screenings, parades, talks, work-shops, entertainment, award ceremonies, the arts, lots of parties 1920′s style and much more. The festival includes some truly unique venues and events being provided in partnership with entertainers who are also true Chaplin admirers.
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival runs from the beginning of September to the beginning of October. It claims to be the biggest singles festival in Europe, so if you’re looking for love this is the place to go 😉 It’s an unusual festival, in that matchmaking has died out in Ireland (thankfully!) but not in Lisdoonvarna. There are a number of events running during the six weeks and you’ll get a chance to meet Willie Daly, a third generation matchmaker and one of Ireland’s last traditional matchmakers.
Clarenbridge Oyster Festival
The Clarenbridge Oyster Festival runs from the second week in September. The festival celebrates the Clarenbridge oyster and what makes the oyster so famous is the taste. As well as celebrating the oyster there’s food, dance, music and entertainment.
Dublin Theatre Festival
The Dublin Theatre Festival runs from the end of September to the middle of October. It’s 18 days of world-class theatre and entertainment from home and abroad. The festival programme incorporates theatre, music, dance, family events, artist talks, public discussions and artist development programmes.
Bram Stoker Festival
Bram Stoker Festival runs around the October Bank Holiday Weekend in Dublin. This eerily exciting festival is inspired by the heritage of world-famous Dublin horror novelist Bram Stoker and his notorious novel Dracula.
Guinness Cork Jazz Festival
Guinness Cork Jazz Festival runs around the October Bank Holiday Weekend. This is Ireland’s biggest and longest established jazz event and has taken place annually since 1978. Each year the festival attracts hundreds of musicians and many thousands of music fans to the city for a feast of jazz of all kinds.
Sneem International Storytelling and Folklore Festival
Sneem International Storytelling and Folklore Festival runs from the middle of November. It’s a weekend of storytelling and folklore with lectures, story swaps, walks, and concerts.
Subtitle European Film Festival
Subtitle European Film Festival runs from the end of November in Kilkenny. The festival showcases the most popular European films from recent years, and centres around actors and casting directors, closing with the Angela Awards on the final Sunday in The Set Theatre.
Winterval runs from the end of November to the day before Christmas Eve. It is a delightful Christmas festival for the young and young at heart and is packed with seasonal events and activities set in unique heritage sites around Waterford City. Winterval takes its inspiration from the enchanting Christmas markets throughout Europe, bringing the collective sights, sounds and festive charms to Ireland’s oldest city.
Have you been to any festivals in Ireland? What are your favourites?