Temple Bar TradFest

Dublin doesn’t do downtime, not even in January. Nights of glowing pub doorways and amber-lit cobbles are the perfect host for the country’s biggest indie Irish music festival.

Dublin’s cultural quarter, creative hub, and nightlife hotspot is undisputedly Temple Bar. The cobbled streets lined with galleries, indie theatres and throbbing pubs are always thronged with visitors and long-lunching locals.

What better place to kick-start Ireland’s legendary festival calendar on 22 January. Let the TradFest begin.

Combining cosy pub sessions with outdoor concerts, street performers with pipe bands, and film screenings with storytelling, the Temple Bar TradFest promises an Irish music and culture extravaganza. Two-time winner of the Best Traditional Music Festival award, TradFest is “a window for Irish culture” according to Moya Brennan of Clannad.

Now in its eight year, the festival keeps on getting bigger and bigger: the six-day schedule promises over 200 free events and performances by some of the best known faces (and voices) in traditional music.

Upstaged by the venue.

And if you’re expecting run-of-the-mill venues, think again. This year, St Patrick’s Cathedral will be joining the ranks of the unique locations that have defined the festival, with Sharon Shannon celebrating her 21 years in music with two special performances in this 800 year-old cathedral.

Dublin’s neoclassical 18th century City Hall is set to host an intimate recital with fiddler Brian Conway, and a special European night to celebrate Ireland’s EU presidency. The hauntingly beautiful Christ Church Cathedral will echo with the voice of Maura O’Connell, while the historic St Werburgh Church, founded in 1178, opens it doors for The West Ocean String Quartet.

Master plan

The programme offers something for every master and maestro. Industry master classes offer insider tips, while the Music Trail offers a roadmap through free festival performances. Bring your own instrument and keep an eye out for the open sessions. If you can carry a tune, drop into the Singers Club and join in the action.

Day to day

While Temple Bar has a rock-solid and rocking reputation for its nightlife, TradFest has struck a perfect balance with a selection of family events. The Ark, a custom-built cultural centre for children, will host music performances, lively workshops and sessions for the kids. Outside you’ll find face painters, street performers, Irish dancers and two outdoor stages.

In between all those jigs and reels, remember you’re still in Temple Bar. Dublin’s culture den is a playground at any time of the year, but we can thank TradFest for the musicians playing.