10 Things You Have to Do in Ireland in Autumn

Autumn’s the same everywhere, right? Wrong. Here’s how to celebrate Autumn with an Ireland twist!

10. Head for a Traditional Music Session

Ah, the Irish pub, no better place to duck inside on a cold day! Blazing open fires, warm welcomes and old-world knick-knacks aside, make sure to catch a traditional music session to get the complete experience. Here, among wooden corner booths, snugs and pints of Guinness, friends old and new trade melodies and ancient songs on an assortment of native instruments.

9. Get Spooked

Did you know that Halloween was invented in Ireland? Which is why we celebrate it in style! Voted the world’s best Halloween spot in a poll by USA Today’s 10Best online poll, The Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival in Derry-Londonderry beat out ghoulish competition including witch trial capital Salem, Massachusettes, and even Transylvania! Want to be even more spooked? Take a paranormal tour around Belfast’s Crumlin Road Gaol and Wexford’s Loftus Hall. Boo!

8. Catch a Festival

The island goes into overdrive as it hosts some of the biggest events on the cultural calendar, with a fantastic line-up for the Autumn Festival Season. Check out the Dublin Theatre Festival, the Belfast International Arts Festival or the smooth sounds of the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. Or head to the Wexford Festival Opera, delve into Dracula’s creator at Dublin’s Bram Stoker Festival, or tuck into delicious food and drink at Savour Kilkenny, the Kinsale Gourmet Festival and Oktoberfest. Decisions, decisions, decisions…

7. Whale Watching

Surrounded by water, you’d kind of expect the island of Ireland to have some of the best spots in the world to whale watch! And, autumn just happens to be one of the best times to see nature at its most dramatic. Humpbacks, Minke and even the occasional Orca can all be spotted doing their aquatic acrobatics along the Wild Atlantic Way. Charter a boat, grab a hot chocolate and go see some whales in the flesh. Or should that be blubber?

6. Autumn Walking Festivals

No denying, there’s something wonderful about a walk through our kaleidoscope of coloured forests, glens and coastlines. Autumn in Ireland is Walking Festival Season, with organised trails turning a simple walk into something special. Try the Annascaul Walking Festival, County Kerry or the Wee Binnian Walking Festival in the Mournes, County Down.

5. Go Birdwatching

Is it a bird? Is it plane? No, wait, it is a bird. Millions of birds, in fact. Ireland holds the distinction of lying beneath some of the busiest bird migration routes in the world, and autumn sees the arrival and departure of countless species. including Canadian Geese, Icelandic Whooper Swans and Eurasian Golden Orioles. Don't miss this feathered phenomenon.

4. Discover Westeros

Think you have to wait until season seven to return to Westeros? Think again. Northern Ireland is Game of Thrones Territory and home to countless Seven Kingdoms filming locations. Bruised autumn skies only add to the atmosphere whether you’re learning archery at Winterfell, meeting the direwolves or travelling the Kingsroad on horseback.

3. Warm Up in a Cosy Café

You can’t journey around Ireland in autumn without stopping into a cosy café for a drop of tea or coffee. Preferably accompanied by some cake and pastry loveliness. Take an indulgent pitstop at Malahide’s Garden Café, Avoca’s Fern House in Wicklow or Established Coffee in Belfast to rest those weary bones.

2. Drink an Irish Coffee

“Is this Brazilian coffee?”, someone asked. “No," replied Joe, "that's Irish Coffee." It's one of the many tales you'll hear at the Flying Boat and Maritime Museum in County Limerick. Invented in 1942 by Chef Joe Sheridan at Foynes Port, where planes en route from Europe to America would stop to refuel, he whipped it up one chilly evening for passengers delayed due to bad weather! Wind blowing outside? Take a sip of this classic.

1. Celebrate Harvest Season

Autumn is harvest time, and there’s nothing quite as tasty as heading to farmers markets – big and small – to pick up food fresh from the farm! Two special treats, though, have to be St George's Market in Belfast and the English Market in Cork, which have both been serving organic goods for centuries. Alternatively, head to the orchard county of Armagh, the home of the Bramley Apple, which has European Commission for PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), and learn how to make your own cider, jam and juice. Yum.