With inviting colourful pubs, trademark warmth and bucketloads of Irish charm, the Emerald Isle is a welcoming destination to visit at any time of the year. For a craic-ing good time, be sure to time your holiday to include one of these quintessentially Irish seasonal celebrations.
St Patrick’s Festival, Dublin
As the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick’s Day (17 March) is marked all over Éire, but the biggest party is in the capital. With the four-day St Patrick’s Festival starting on 16 March next year, revellers from all over the world will paint the town green and enjoy a host of entertainment, including street parades, live music and food markets galore.
Inish Festival, Inishbofin Island
Held on the picturesque isle of Inishbofin in County Galway, the Inish: Island Conversations Festival is a five-day multidisciplinary arts event that traverses literature, poetry, film, music, walks, and yes, conversations. Held in June this year, the Inish Festival takes an unique and quirky view of the nation’s formidable arts heritage.
One of Ireland’s best-known literary sons, James Joyce, is celebrated in the annual Bloomsday festival. Named for the protagonist, Leopold Bloom, in the novel Ulysses, the quirky five-day event revolves around Bloomsday (Thursday, June 16, 1904) and includes re-enactments, readings and themed luncheons in venues around Dublin.
The Rose of Tralee International Festival, Tralee
With Irish immigrants in regions around the globe, the Rose of Tralee International Festival historically brings young women of Irish descent to County Kerry to connect Irish communities around the world and celebrate Gaelic culture. The week-long festivities (16-22 August) culminates in the crowning of the ‘Rose of Tralee’.
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, Ennis
Ireland’s most important traditional music festival, the national fleadh cheoil (festival of music) is a showcase of Irish music, song and dance. To be held in Ennis, County Clare in 2017, the two-week event in August draws a 400,000-strong crowd to enjoy the traditional Irish music and cultural scene from fiddle players to Irish balladeers.
National Ploughing Championships, Tullamore
Attracting over 280,000 attendees, the National Ploughing Championships is Europe’s largest outdoor agricultural show. Celebrating 85 years in 2016, the three-day event in September takes place in the delightful-sounding Screggan in Tullamore, County Offaly in Ireland’s centre. While ploughing is the main event, there are also sheepdog trials and the national brown bread-baking competition.
Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, Galway
Racking up 62 years of oyster shucking last year, this Galway festival is held on the last weekend in September to celebrate the briny haul of the city’s rich annual oyster harvest. Over 22,000 people visit the annual festival to enjoy the shucking championships, street parades, entertainment, and, of course, sample plenty of seafood, Champagne and dark Irish stout.