From sports to music to farming, Ireland does festivals and fairs like no other country on earth. Whatever time of the year, you will find a celebration underway somewhere. See below for details of some of our favourites.
Puck Fair Festival
Ireland’s oldest festival – and possibly its strangest – is held on the 10th, 11th and 12th of August each year in Killorglin, County Kerry. For those three days, a wild goat bearing a crown surveys his subjects from a high wooden “throne” in the centre of the town.
The festival always has an extensive schedule of events, with 12 hours of free family street entertainment daily, horse and cattle fairs, a funfair, and a spectacular fireworks display to end proceedings.
Chapel Road, Dungloe, Donegal
The Mary of Dungloe International Festival was launched in 1967, in honour of Mary Gallagher, a local woman whose tragic 19th-century love story was immortalised in a song that became the festival’s theme.
Crowds flock to Donegal each year for a ten-day feast of traditional music and craic. A highlight of the festival is a concert by local singer Daniel O’Donnell and the selection of the ‘Mary’ from an array of internatinal contestants.
Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Offaly
Described as a “bite-sized Electric Picnic” and “the teddy bears’ picnic of music festivals,” Castlepalooza is Ireland’s best, boutique, music and arts festival. Held over the August bank holiday weekend each year, the festival has been nominated for “Best European Festival” in the U.K. Festival Awards. The exclusive two-day festival is staged in the grounds of the magical Charleville Castle in Tullamore, where 2,500 lucky ticket holders enjoy a fun-filled weekend of music, entertainment and art.
Guinness Cork Jazz Festival
Various venues in Cork City, Cork city, Cork
One of the three biggest jazz festivals in the world, the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival is a premier event that attracts more than 40,000 visitors to Cork city each year. More than 1,000 leading jazz musicians from over 30 countries perform in pubs and clubs across the city during the October bank holiday weekend.
With Guinness flowing, vibrant street entertainment, and great live music in the pubs, it’s easy to see why so many people make the Cork Jazz Entertainment a permanent fixture in their calendars.
Punchestown Racecourse, Naas, Kildare
This summmer rock festival has become the event not to be missed, both for the world’s biggest bands and their followers. With more than 100 of the hottest international acts in attendance, this spectacular festival in the Curragh was named the best festival in Europe overall in 2011, beating the likes of Glastonbury and V in the UK.
Rose of Tralee International Festival
Ashe Memorial Hall, Denny Street, Tralee, Kerry
The Rose of Tralee International Festival is an international event that involves young women of Irish descent from Ireland and around the world. The overall Rose of Tralee is selected from a line-up of international contestants, with each Rose bringing visitors and delegates from the region she represents. The festival also features family entertainment, fashion shows, and live concerts.
During Festival week, the town’s streets are transformed into a wonderland of parades, music, circus, funfair, markets and live performance.
Wexford Opera House, High Street, Wexford
The year 2012 will be the 61st staging of the Wexford Festival Opera festival. It will take place from 24 October to 4 November, and the three main operas to be performed will be:
FRANCESCA DA RIMINI by Saverio Mercadante (1795 – 1870)
24, 27, 30 October, 2 November
LE ROI MALGRÉ LUI by Emmanuel Chabrier (1841 – 1894)
25, 28, 31 October, 3 November
A VILLAGE ROMEO AND JULIET by Fredrick Delius (1862 – 1934)
26, 29 October, 1, 4 November
44 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Dublin
Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival, the oldest dedicated theatre festival in Europe, returned in 2011 with a programme of inspiring productions, presenting a range of successful works from countries across the world. Highlights included stagings of Peer Gynt, The Speckled People, and The Wild Bride.
The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival
Parliament Street, Kilkenny
The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival
This world-class comedy programme combines the best in Irish and international talent with shows featuring both celebrated comic stars and new talent.
Since it was established in 1994, The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival has grown from a small event comprising a handful of shows to an internationally acclaimed festival showcasing the very best in Irish and international comedy acts, attracting visitors to Kilkenny city and its surrounding regions through the unusual combination of professionally-managed world class entertainment in the atmospheric setting of this charming and intimate medieval city.
National Ploughing Championships 2012
Heathpark, New Ross, Wexford
One of the best showcases for agriculture and rural industry in Western Europe, the National Ploughing Championships attract an average attendance of 180,000 visitors and more than 1,000 exhibitors annually.
An 80-acre trade arena features agricultural machinery and services, livestock, bio-energy, the motor trade, forestry, home and garden, rural enterprises, and much more. A tented trade village focuses on such areas as lifestyle, education, tourism, health, food, and craft, as well as demonstrations in cookery, crafts, and agricultural machinery.