October is a great month to visit the island of Ireland. The air is crisp, the landscapes explode into a kaleidoscope of autumn colour, and best of all, there are a ton of unique things to see and do.
From a spooky extravaganza in Northern Ireland that's billed as the BIGGEST Halloween festival in Europe, to one of the world's premier theatre festivals in Dublin, and much more in between, there's something to suit everyone.
So, check out these October travel tips, get that planner out and start booking tickets. Autumnal adventures await...
The home of Halloween
Did you know that Halloween began in Ireland around 2,000 years ago? The ancient Celts celebrated the harvest festival of Samhain, and traditions that began then – including wearing scary costumes and building bonfires – have continued to this day and spread around the world. We think everyone should experience spooky season where it originated at least once! Join us, if you dare...
Derry Halloween is Europe's biggest Halloween festival. Frighteningly fun events take place across the Walled City of Derry~Londonderry for several days, including otherworldly parades, stunning light shows, and it all culminates in an epic fireworks display over the River Foyle. Hit the streets, mingle with spirits and monsters and enjoy one hellishly good party.
When the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest, Púca Festival rolls into Ireland's Ancient East. Inspired by Irish folklore – a púca is a mysterious creature that can change the fortunes of anyone it meets – this gathering mixes old Irish mythology with live performances from some of the island's top musicians, comedians, and storytellers. Don a costume, join the heathens and lose yourself in the merriment.
Autumn is festival season on the island of Ireland! And October, in particular, has a wide array of events on which will appeal to music fans, foodies, culture lovers, and pretty much anyone else. Take a seat, the show is about to begin...
Theatre is in Ireland's DNA and the island has produced such legendary playwrights as Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, and more recently, Marina Carr and Conor McPherson. So, it should come as no surprise that the Dublin Theatre Festival is a world-class event. Each year, an eclectic mix of shows light up the stages at famous theatres including the Gate and the Abbey.
In Northern Ireland, the Belfast International Arts Festival is a heady mix of contemporary arts and ideas, covering everything from dance and live music to talks and visual arts. A must for anyone interested in Ireland's culture.
For music lovers, the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival is a seasonal highlight. Every year, hundreds of musicians and thousands of fans descend on Cork city for jazz shows of all kinds. The pubs are packed, the vibes are swinging, and the place is alive with the sound of music.
If opera is more your style, we've got that, too! The award-winning Wexford Festival Opera has built itself a reputation as one of the world's leading opera festivals. A local and international line-up of top talent from the world of opera takes to the stage at Ireland's National Opera House in high-quality productions. Meanwhile, cafés, restaurants, and bars around Wexford town are abuzz with the excitement of opera lovers.
On the west coast of Ireland, along the Wild Atlantic Way, the Dingle Food Festival is a foodie's dream. Nestled amidst the beautiful landscapes of the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, the festival is known by locals as "The Best Weekend of the Year". With dozens of market stalls, cookery demonstrations, wine tastings, a food trail, workshops, and street entertainment, it's easy to see why it's such a popular event. Eat, drink, and be merry!
The great outdoors
October is also a wonderful time of the year to venture into the great outdoors! In Ireland, the weather is mild, with crisp sunny days, and even though the evenings are getting shorter (sunset is just after 7pm), there is still plenty of daylight to enjoy. So, if you're a walker, hiker, or nature lover, reach for those walking boots. There's so much to explore...
As Ireland's green landscapes transform into the autumnal shades of brown, yellow, and orange at this time of year, walking trails take on a whole new aspect. Take a walk on the wild side at the Wicklow Walking Festival. Numerous organised walks take you through the breathtaking Wicklow Mountains National Park in County Wicklow.
Birdwatchers, get those binoculars out, as there are millions of migrating birds to see in Ireland's skies at this time. Have you ever seen an Arctic Tern or a Brent Goose? Then this is your chance to add them to your birdwatching bucket list.
On the other end of the size spectrum, whales such as humpbacks and orcas can be seen in coastal waters during the autumn months. Cork Whale Watch is a great option if you want to book a boat tour in October.
If you're into travelling sustainably, then forest bathing is a great activity to pursue on the island of Ireland at this time of year. Not familiar with the term? It's all about immersing yourself in nature and soaking up the atmosphere all around you. This could take the form of a mindful walk in the woods or a spot of meditation in a peaceful forest.
In Northern Ireland, Xhale offers meditation, mindfulness, immersive experiences, and retreats that are deeply rooted in the practices of forest bathing. In the company of founder Ann Ward – a certified forest bathing guide and forest therapy practitioner – one can reconnect with nature in magical landscapes such as Killeavy Castle Estate in County Armagh.
October travel tips
The weather on the island of Ireland in October is mostly sunny with some clouds. The average temperature is 7°-14° Celsius, so mornings and evenings can feel cool and fresh, while afternoons can be fairly warm, especially when the sun is shining bright. It rains a bit, so don't forget to bring an umbrella. You'll probably experience four seasons in one day – it's a rite of passage when visiting Ireland!
What to pack? It's a changeable time of year, so layers are the way to go. Bring some short-sleeve tops and trousers, as well as heavier items such as cardigans and jumpers in case it gets cold. If you hail from warmer climes, you might want to throw in a woolly hat and scarf, just in case. A good rain jacket with a hood is also a must.
Of course, if you're feeling a little chilly you can always nip into a local pub for a warming Irish coffee, hot Irish whiskey, or a hearty beef stew – it's one of the simple (and delicious) joys of visiting Ireland in October!
If you're a budding photographer, check out our tips on photographing Ireland in autumn. Wondrous landscapes await...