Music Island

Hands in the air!
Hands in the air!

Turn up the decibels with passion-fuelled music festivals in a land where music is part of life

Traditional Irish music festivals

Traditional Irish music is celebrated with passion and energy all year long. As it’s 2013, the year of The Gathering, Ireland’s musical output has gone into overdrive with thousands of music festivals all over the island, from way down in the southwest’s Kingdom of Kerry all the way up to Northern Ireland in the UK City of Culture 2013 Derry~Londonderry

Within Derry~Londonderry’s 17th century walls, the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil has trad musicians honing their skills to perform on the big occasion. The Fleadh brings a festival atmosphere to the city, and come night time the pubs fill up with revellers and the sounds of traditional Irish music. Prepare yourself for on street ceilís (traditional Irish dancing) and a great time. 

Unofficial trad capital of Ireland

This would be the beautiful County Clare on the western coast of the island. Clare can claim one of Ireland’s grandest attractions: The Cliffs of Moher and The Burren. But apart from these raw beauties, it’s trad music that weaves a thread through County Clare. One of the best to look out for is the Feakle International Music Festival: raved about by CN Traveler in its best festivals of the world series, Feakle celebrates the rich tradition of music over five days. 

Dublin bigs it up in trad circles

When it comes to trad festivals Dublin is massive! The Temple Bar Trad Fest takes place over six days with over 200 events in the heart of Dublin City, Temple Bar. Every pub, club and street corner becomes a stage for trad musicians from all over Ireland and beyond. Set right in the middle of the city, you can enjoy a music festival and a new city at the same time.

Ready to rock?

Ireland has earned a reputation in Europe as one of the leading summer destinations for rock festivals. And Electric Picnic is one of the best. Big bands, big DJs and a big heart is the mantra for the wonderfully boutique Festival in County Laois, which has been termed ‘everything a festival should be’ by music critics. 

Let’s not forget Slane Castle. Each year the Castle and grounds in County Meath are transformed into a festival site. Past bands to have rocked Slane include The Rolling Stones, Queens of the Stone Age and U2.

There are hundreds of smaller independent festivals all over the island, too, many of which offer camping facilities. Check out sites for Knockanstockan in County Wicklow or Indie-pendence in County Cork. So pack your tent, dust off your aviator sunglasses and get ready to rock in Ireland! 

Keeping it classical

There’s a real buzz to the country’s top classical and choral events including Summer Music on the Shannon in County Galway, which is packed with young performers and renowned professionals; the Ardee Baroque in County Louth, Ireland’s only festival of orchestral Baroque Music; and the Carrick Water Music Festival in rural County Leitrim.

A night at the opera

Chamber music aficionados will delight at the quality of the music at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, which takes place in the rugged and beautiful West Cork. The New Ross Piano Festival further up the coastline in Wexford aims to celebrate the versatility, virtuosity and variety of piano playing styles; while it would be sheer craziness to miss out on the Sligo International Choral Festival, an exciting competition featuring choirs from all over the world.

We love a bit of Opera in Ireland, too. A magical atmosphere descends on Wexford during the celebrated Wexford Festival Opera. Now regarded as one of the premier opera events across Europe, the festival attracts a glittering selection of performers with its impressive venues and brilliant atmosphere.

Jazz festivals in Ireland

Jazz hands at the ready, because if you love jazz music, you’ve come to the right place. Every October Cork City becomes the jazz centre of the universe for the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. The brightest stars come out to shine for this festival. Past performers include, De La Soul, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Herbie Hancock. Over 90 venues across Cork City host gigs, and the entire city is flooded with jazz fans and travelling musicians. 

Ireland’s biggest jazz extravaganza, though, belongs to the city of Derry~Londonderry. The Walled City hosts jazz musicians from all over the world for the four days of jazz madness that is The City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival. Jazz, blues, swing, jive…you name, they’ll be playing it…

So no matter what genre of music event you prefer, be it a cosy pub corner in Feakle or in an ocean of music fans at Electric Picnic, Ireland has the music festival to get you rockin’.  

Do you feel the beat now?