Dublin Festival Season

In case you hadn’t heard, 2013 is the year of The Gathering Ireland. Think of it as an island-wide, year-long party that’s choc-a-bloc with local festivals ranging from whacky beard gatherings to film fests and toe-tapping traditional music sessions. And wouldn’t you know it, Dublin City has gone and caught festival fever. The cause? Dublin Festival Season, a two-month marvel of eccentric events, live music, daring drama and literary legends. The culture vultures are circling and this UNESCO City of Literature city couldn’t be happier. Want to know the What? When? and Why? Then look no further than our TOP 10...

What is it? Mountain to Sea DLR Book Festival

When is it? 3rd- 8th September

Why can’t we miss it?

Devastated now you’ve finished that book you ‘couldn’t put down’? Still filled with unanswered questions about your favourite characters and plots? The Mountain to Sea DLR Book Festival (MTS for those in the know) is your friend. Bookworms will make the coastal town of Dun Laoghaire their home as MTS welcomes writers from all over the world, as well as home-grown talent, including author Anne Enright and poet Eavan Boland. Expect Q&A sessions with authors, readings of your most-loved books, exclusive extracts, writing workshops and literary tours.

What is it? Dublin Fashion Festival 

When is it? 5th- 8th September

Why can’t we miss it?

Welcome to the Dublin Fashion Festival where style advice is served minus the attitude but with lashings of Dublin charm. A Style Booth and Beauty Workshops are your ticket to a higher sartorial understanding during this four-day fashion-fest. And Dublin’s streets will be glamourised into ‘fierce’ fashion highways with catwalks and parades for all to admire. Food fairs and live music will keep you fed and entertained, a Barnardos vintage pop-up store will make hipsters happy, and Vogue’s Fashion Night Out will see Dublin painted red. Or whatever colour is the new black this season…

What is it? Dublin Fringe Festival

When is it? 5th- 22nd September

Why can’t we miss it?

Theatre. Dance. Comedy. Music. In venues above coffee shops, libraries, pubs and even in nightclubs – you’d be hard pressed to find something that doesn’t excite you at the quirky Dublin Fringe Festival. After their successful run at last year’s Fringe, circus drag act Briefs are back this year with a brand new and unmissable show – just ask someone who was there last year. Other treats this year include Break, a play about teachers, and the intriguing Mice Will Play, investigating the life of, well, mice. We did say it was quirky, didn’t we?

What is it? Oktoberfest 

When is it? 19th September- 6th October

Why can’t we miss it?

If you thought Oktoberfest was confined to Germany’s borders, think again. Perched prettily on Dublin’s tenderly restored Docklands, Oktoberfest Dublin is a celebration of sausages, pretzels and, of course, beer. Food and beer traders will be travelling from Germany for the beer love-in where toes tap to live Polka’s parties in the big tent. And if you’ve always wanted to yodel with the best of them, experts will be on hand to show you how. Cheers!

What is it? Culture Night

When is it? 20th September

Why can’t we miss it?

In what can be easily described as one of the culture capitals of Europe, Dublin’s art galleries, theatres and other culture venues and buildings stay open until late one night a year to celebrate this culturally rich city. Culture Night condenses hundreds of free events (tours, talks and performances) into one night and stages them in venues citywide. Don’t miss the chance to eat a painting or a sculpture in the Edible Art Gallery and expect to find street performers, circus acts and spectacle performers scattered around the city. 

What is it? Arthur’s Day

When is it? 26th September

Why can’t we miss it?

When Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease on the Liffey-side at St James’ Gate, he could hardly have imagined that his drink would be remembered by pop and rock’s finest performers 254 years later. The clandestine nature of the day (no-one knows exactly which act will play in what pub until they arrive on stage) makes for double the excitement come gig time, and the staging of the concerts in such a broad spectrum of pubs is a cracking idea. Previous acts to have rocked Arthur’s Day include The Script, The Stereophonics and Tinie Tempah.

What is it? Dublin Theatre Festival

When is it? 26th September- 13th October

Why can’t we miss it?

Dublin definitely digs drama. Over 18 days, the Dublin Theatre Festival hosts an eclectic ensemble of local and international drama in the best venues the city has to offer: from the famous Abbey Theatre to the beautifully aged and intimate Smock Alley. Highlight-wise, The Threepenny Opera will bring magical musical theatre, while the heart-wrenching I’ve to Mind Her will surely bring on a few tears. Watch out, too, for ‘the most important play of the 20th century’ (New York Times) – Dubliner Samuel Beckett’s first play, Waiting for Godot.

What is it? Hard Working Class Heroes

When is it? 3rd- 5th October

Why can’t we miss it?

Wouldn’t it be nice, just for once, to know about the next big thing in music before everyone else? Hard Working Class Heroes is your chance. From Mum & Dad’s garage, basements and bedrooms, the bands playing at HWCH are here because they’ve earned it. Three days and six venues in Dublin City sees 100 bands rock the city with the energy and gusto that you associate with new music. These ‘box-fresh bands’, as festival organisers have dubbed them, are an essential journey out of the iPod and back into live music. Trust us: your ears, and your soul, will thank you.

What is it? Open House Dublin

When is it? 4th- 6th October

Why can’t we miss it?

From sports venues to houses of prayer, government buildings to domestic homes and all over one weekend, Open House Dublin sees 100 buildings, old and new, open their doors for free for another gorgeous Gathering. Glimpse the future in ‘Google Docks’, part of Google’s EU HQ campus at Grand Canal Dock, or discover the past in the General Post Office on O’Connell Street. If heights are your thing, you’ll love the Etihad Skyline Tour of Croke Park Stadium, while the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland and the overseers of Ireland’s lighthouses, The Commissioner for Irish Lights, will be opening their educational doors, too.

What is it? Bram Stoker Festival 

When is it? 25th- 27th October

Why can’t we miss it?

Has anyone made more of an impact on the horror genre than this former castle clerk? We think not. Stoker’s life is etched all over Dublin, from the seaside town of Clontarf where he was born, to the church where he got married (St Anne’s on Dawson Street) and onto Dublin Castle where he worked. The Bram Stoker Festival takes a chilling look at Dublin with scary walking tours, vampire discussions and a live drama set to take place in the murky dark of Dublin Castle’s shadow. Fans of vampire fan fiction (both teens and adults) are taken care of, too, with literary workshops led by award-winning authors.

What is it? New Years Eve: A Citywide Street Party

When is it? 29th December - 1st January 2014 

Why can’t we miss it?

Although technically outside the festival season, New Year’s Eve in Dublin is just too good to leave off the list. From the 29th of December, the city’s streets will shine more brightly than any other time of year as the Small Smoke waits for midnight in a way only the Irish know how. With a ton of free events in five central festival zones, highlights include a firework show, a procession of light and a Countdown Concert to say goodbye to the old and ring in the new with a bang.