CELEBRATE: Ireland's 17 best festivals to visit

From the long days of summer to the brisk weeks of winter, Ireland's calendar is crammed with exciting events all year round that tempt the tummy and get the toes tapping.

From the long days of summer to the brisk weeks of winter, Ireland’s calendar is crammed with exciting events all year round that tempt the tummy and get the toes tapping.

Here are 17 of the best festivals, with each one reason enough to plan an Emerald Isle adventure.

 

1. TRADFEST

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The sounds of fiddles, flutes, bodhrans and banjos echo through Dublin’s streets for four days in January when Ireland’s best performers take to bars, churches and laneways during Tradfest.

Dates: 23-27 January 2019

 

2. ST PATRICK’S FESTIVAL

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Ireland’s patron saint is celebrated in Armagh and Downpatrick during the Home of Saint Patrick Festival which happens across the northern neighbours during the first weeks of March.

Dublin gets in on the St Patrick’s frivolities as well during the days leading to the patron saint’s big moment in March, with a parade that takes over the city – a highlight of the St Patrick’s Festival.

Dates: 17 March 2019 for the parade in Dublin

 

3. LISTOWEL WRITER’S WEEK

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County Kerry is home to one of Ireland’s favourite literary events with Listowel Writer’s Week, scheduled to take place from May 29 to June 2 in 2019, an annual occasion celebrating established and emerging authors.

Dates: 29 May – 2 June 2019

 

4. BLOOM IN THE PARK

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Bloom in the Park is the grandest gathering of green thumbs – it’s modelled on the famous Chelsea Flower Show – with plots created by Ireland’s top gardeners dotting Dublin’s Phoenix Park for four days across late May and early June.

Dates: 30 May – 3 June 2019

 

5. WESTPORT FOLK AND BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL

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June sees the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival happening in this Wild Atlantic Way destination with locals and international acts invited to the party.

Dates: June 2019 (exact dates TBC) 

 

6. BLOOMSDAY 

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Bloomsday in June calls James Joyce’s fans to Dublin and celebrate the work of the Irish author with readings, performances and tours taking in locations from his famous work Ulysses.

Dates: 16 June 2019

 

7. SEA SESSIONS

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Sea Sessions is a surfing, camping and music festival that hits Bundoran in County Donegal on Ireland’s spectacular west coast for three days in June.

Dates: 20-23 June 2019

 

8. FLEADH CHEOIL NA HEIREANN 

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Schedule a visit to Drogheda – the town halfway between Belfast and Dublin in County Louth – during August when the world’s biggest traditional music festival Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann has venues vibrating with merry melodies.

Dates: August 2019

 

9. CULTURE NIGHT

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Locations across Ireland indulge in Culture Night festivities every September with free entry to hundreds of venues including churches, museums, galleries, historic homes, artist studios and cultural centres to celebrate the land’s late-night culture.

Dates: 21 September 2019

 

10. GALWAY INTERNATIONAL OYSTER FESTIVAL

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September’s Galway International Oyster Festival is the planet’s longest-running celebration of the salt-water delicacy.

Dates: last weekend September 2019

 

11. WEXFORD FESTIVAL OPERA

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Wexford Festival Opera is billed as one of the globe’s top tributes to the classical code with the event, that’s been bringing aficionados to the city during October and November since 1951, famous for highlighting neglected masterpieces.

Dates: 19 October – 4 November 2018

 

12. CORK JAZZ FESTIVAL

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Cork Jazz Festival, Ireland’s most substantial salute to this musical genre, has been held in the southern city every October since 1978 and always attracts a crowd of devotees.

Dates: 25-29 October 2018

 

13. BRAM STOKER FESTIVAL

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Late October is the time Dublin dedicates four days to honouring the author of Dracula during the annual Bram Stoker Festival which features a roster of gothic-inspired events.

Dates: 26-29 October 2018

 

14. DERRY HALLOWEEN

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Halloween is serious in Ireland and Derry Halloween is Europe’s largest late-October bash with a parade and fireworks over the River Foyle just some of the happenings.

Dates: 26 October – 3 November 2018

 

15. CS LEWIS FESTIVAL

karryon-tourismireland-cslewis-BelfastCityHall

Belfast’s CS Lewis Festival spans four days in November to celebrate the life and legacy of the author responsible for throwing a literary spotlight on a lion, a witch and a wardrobe.

Dates: 3-7 November 2018

 

16. OTHER VOICES DINGLE

December’s Other Voices is a must for music lovers with the festival that started in Dingle back in 2002 now bringing famous and fledgeling artists from around Ireland and the world to venues along the Wild Atlantic Way from Kerry to Derry.

Dates: 28-29 September 2018

 

17. NEW YEAR’S FESTIVAL

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New Year’s Festival Dublin brings revellers together in the heart of the vibrant city for a Countdown Concert and street entertainers.

Dates: 31 December 2018

 

No matter where you go in Ireland, there is always something on, somewhere to visit, and something to do all year round, with an array of events ranging from food to culture and everything in between. You’ll be spoiled for choice and wherever you go in Ireland you will receive a warm welcome along the way.

Discover more about Ireland at ireland.com

Written Sarah Nicholson, KARRYON contributor

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