Summer Festivals in Ireland

Well, hello summer! You’ve been a long time coming but you’re here now, so let’s just get on with things. How best to do that? Festivals.

Galway Arts Festival
Galway Arts Festival

But not just any old festivals – quirky festivals, like celebrations of the humble chip, highland games on a regal estate and a spot of Beethoven, Shakespeare and the magical music of the Gloaming in a medieval city.

Ah yes, it’s good to see you, summer. Let the fun, and the festivals, begin…

Culture & Chips, Limerick city (30 May – 1 June)

Thick, thin, chunky, curly: we’ve happily chomped chips for centuries. The love affair continues. Celebrations at Culture and Chips will take place in a 1920s Spiegeltent on the banks of the River Shannon in Limerick city with music provided by the likes of Brad Pitt Light Orchestra. A stand-out event is Pommes in the Park, an evening of cabaret and chips. Nomnomnomnomnom!

NoFit State Circus, Limerick city (13 – 21 June)

The lads and lassies at NoFit State Circus treat gravity with disdain. Through a show of swinging trapezes, aerial straps, cloudswing and handbalancing, these epically talented acrobats make a mockery of physics and leave audiences in a raptured state of furious clapping. Rates high on the can’t-afford-to-miss-o-meter.

Cork Midsummer Festival, Cork city (21 – 30 June)

City voted among the friendliest in the world by Condé Nast: check.  Opera and theatre performances to make your hair stand on end? Check. Food tastings, events and get-togethers to keep you full and fancy free: check. Midsummer sun gently warming the River Lee and your happy face: Check and check. Cork Midsummer Festival added to diary: check.

Clipper Maritime Festival, Derry~Londonderry (21 – 29 June)

It’s not often you get a round-the-world yacht race, the Beach Boys, a festival of world traditions and a music day in the one place. It’s even more unusual for that one place to be one of the most perfectly intact walled cities in Europe.  Along with all of the above, the Maritime Festival provides chances to visit the yachts and boats, too, and if you’re so inclined, we’d say the occasional Jack Sparrow impression would go down very well.

Dalriada (13 – 19 July), Glenarm Castle, County Antrim

For those seasoned festival-goers who think they’ve done it all, this one is for you. Taking its name from an ancient Gaelic kingdom, Dalriada might just be the most eccentric festival we’ve ever heard of. Where else would you see sporting events like triathlons and horse hunt chases alongside concerts and celebrity chef demonstrations? But then, variety is the spice of life.

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Galway Arts Festival (14 – 27 July)

This one is a real class act. The programme weds the best in theatre and music together in one glorious union with eclectic events dotted around the banks of the River Corrib. You could catch Cork-born actor Cillian Murphy lighting up the stage one night and bop to Dublin’s queen of rockabilly Imelda May the next. Discovering something new is what the Galway Arts Festival is all about — that and having the best time ever.

Kilkenny Arts Festival (8 – 17 August)

Beethoven rubbing shoulders with Irish supergroup The Gloaming? Strange, but true. Once a mecca for classical music aficionados, the Kilkenny Arts Festival has evolved over the years into a delectable assortment of artistic entertainment. Literature, music, theatre and street performances will all be on the menu when this feast for the senses kicks off in Ireland’s medieval city. We hope you’re hungry.

Now, give yourself a minute to allow all that to sink in. Done? Here comes the hard part: deciding which of these superb festivals to catch around the island of Ireland this summer.

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