Must-visit upcoming festivals in Ireland

Ireland is known for its music scene, as well as for its friendly and warm atmosphere. The Irish are fond of festivals of all kinds, any reason is good to party : music, theatre, street art, dance, food… There’s something for everyone! We selected a bunch of them, so you can decide which ones you might be keen on going to. Let’s go and celebrate Irish culture (and much more!)

Waterford Walls Festival

Photo from the archives of Waterford Walls Festival 2022 – Waterford Wall Festival official website

  • When? August 11 – 20th
  • Where? Waterford City

It is Ireland’s largest International Street Art Festival, a must-see for every (street) art lover! The main goal of Waterford Walls Festival’s organisers is “to break down the barriers between art and communities, and to celebrate street art as a powerful tool in urban regeneration”.

Last year, the event gathered over 30 artists from all around the country and beyond. This one-of-a-kind artistic celebration makes room for plenty of creative minds to connect and enables the public to experience art in the very heart of the city. 

Overall, this is going to be 9 days of live art, workshops, music, talks, guided tours and nice encounters! You can check the full programme here.

… How to get there?

From Dublin City South, Georges Quay bus stop, you can take the 736 towards SETU, Waterford City and get there in approximately 2h30.

Kilkenny Arts Festival

  • When? August 10 – 20th
  • Where? Kilkenny

This festival has hosted many great artists since its foundation in 1974. Music has been at its core – but you can also find writers, poets, dancers and performers of all kinds gathering in the lovely medieval city of Kilkenny on this special occasion! 

Don’t forget to book tickets in advance for every event you would like to join, though! Even the free ones are ticketed in order to maintain balance of the visitors’ flow. You can find the programme here and find out which ones you might like to attend.

… How to get there?

There are two ways to get to Kilkenny : you can either take the train or the bus, both will take approximately 1h30. Regarding the train, you can take it from Dublin Heuston towards Waterford. If you feel more like taking the bus, you can take the 600 towards Anderson’s Quay, Cork City from Burgh Quay.

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival

  • When? 1st – 30th September
  • Where? Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare

This one is off the beaten track – it takes place in the small Irish village of Lisdoonvarna, on the West Coast. Stay tuned, you’ll find out soon enough why you have to go! 

This month-long festival was created over 165 years ago and attracts more than 60,000 people from all over the world every year. It is indeed a very popular tourist attraction, considered to be one of the largest matchmaking in the world (no less!). On this special occasion, each bar of the little town is brought to life with traditional Irish music and dancing, funny matchmaking activities – every day until the wee hours!

Fun fact: Lisdoonvarna’s mascot is Willie Daly – Ireland’s most famous matchmaker. He started out as a matchmaker 50 years ago when he took on the family business. Since then, he became a popular figure of the festival, and thousands of people are coming to see him on this special occasion. There is even a legend that says that if you touch his “Lucky Book” – a notebook where he keeps track of love-seeking profiles – you’ll be in love and married within six months.

So, what are you waiting for? You might find love, if not you will still have good music and dancing (isn’t it real love?). On top of that, you will surely make tons of friends and have great craic!

For more information, you can check out the official website here.

… How to get there?

You can take a bus from Dublin to Galway, with Irish City Link it will take you 2h30. From there it will take you approximately 1h30 to reach Lisdoonvarna. Plenty of Eireann buses are running throughout the day.

Galway Cartoon Festival

Galway Cartoon Festival 2023 official poster made by Jim Cogan

  • When? 29th September – 8th October
  • Where? Galway and Inis Oirr (Aran Islands)

This one promotes the work of talented cartoonists from Ireland and abroad in the lovely city of Galway, as well as in the island of Inis Oirr. The main exhibition shows over 100 cartoons and highlights various styles and topics – from politics and current affairs to more lighthearted matters. Besides that, many activities will be held. Among them, a schools’ cartoon workshop and competition, and some live caricature sessions. 

Overall, this festival is shaping up to be great craic – there will be something for everyone! Galway is already known for being a buzzing and arty town, so this Festival will surely be the perfect place to have an insight into the Cartoon’s world.

You can check-up the official website here.

… How to get there?

From Dublin, reaching Galway is a breeze! There are buses running all day with Irish City Link, and the journey will take you (only) 2h30.

Dublin Fringe Festival

Dublin Fringe Festival 2023: Illustration by Laura Callaghan | Design by bigO

  • When? 9th – 24th September
  • Where? Dublin

The Dublin Fringe Festival is a multidisciplinary arts festival, as well as a year-round artist support organisation based in Dublin. The main goal of this organisation is to promote the work of emerging Irish and international artists through various artistic forms. 

This year’s theme is city limitless and ideas to create a new map of the city where there is space for everyone. It will consist of two weeks filled with theatre productions, concerts, interactive talks, dance performances, immersive installations – and much more! To have a better idea, you can have a look on the website and decide which events you might like to attend and book your tickets here.

Dublin Festival of History

  • When? 25th September – 15th October
  • Where? Dublin

This one is an annual free festival organised by Dublin City Libraries. Over the years, it has gained quite a strong reputation as it gives a fresh insight into our past. It is definitely the place to be for who’s keen on history. Indeed, a lot of well-known Irish and international historians gather to talk and debate about various topics throughout these 3 weeks. In total, there will be over 150 free events, either in-person or online, which make it really easy for everyone to join! 

You can check the official website here. We would recommend signing up to their newsletter in order to stay up-to-date with the programme.

Dingle Food & Wine Festival

  • When? 29th September – 1st October
  • Where? Dingle

The annual Food & Wine Festival takes place in the lovely fishing town of Dingle, on southwest Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula. It includes taste trails, cookery demos, workshops, whiskey and wine tasting, art and craft, and so much more! This is the perfect weekend getaway to have an insight into Irish culture and enjoy local products. For more information, you can check out the official website here.

Foodies, get ready because Dingle is waiting for you!

… How to get there?

To be honest, going to Dingle is no mean feat – but not impossible! The journey includes 2 trains : Dublin Heuston – Mallow, then Mallow – Tralee and (finally) a bus from Tralee, Casement Station to Dingle. As it takes approximately 5 hours to go, the best option would be to stay over for the weekend.

Belfast International Arts Festival

  • When? 12th October – 5th November
  • Where? Belfast, Northern Ireland

Keen to go North? The International Arts Festival in Belfast is celebrating its 61th birthday this year! It is the city’s longest-running international arts event. Music, visual arts, theatre, walking tours, talk & ideas – you’ll surely find something you like. You can check-out the full programme here.

… How to get there?

It will take you approximately 2 hours to get to Northern Ireland’s capital city. From Connolly train station, trains leave every two hours, and you can find tickets at a very cheap price if you book in advance.

Wexford Festival Opera

  • When? 24th October – 5th November
  • Where? Dublin

Since the first “Festival of Music and the Arts” which took place 72 years ago, Wexford Festival Opera has become one of the world’s leading opera festivals.

This year, the focus is on Women & War. Each one of the selected operas highlights the significant role played by women during wartime. The characters – Zoraida in Zoraida di Granata, Olga in L’Aube Rouge and Rosetta in La ciociara – are facing different struggles but embody the same determination and courage through the fight for their rights.  

You can check the full-programme and book your tickets here.

… How to get there?

From Busaras bus stop, you can take the 2 towards Wexford. It will take you approximately 2h30 to get there.

Festival-goers, now you’re in the loop!

We hope that our little festival guide will help you to get your bearings and make the most of your stay here. Generally speaking, festivals can be a great way to meet new people, get a grasp of new things or deepen your knowledge about topics you are interested in. 

There are many other incoming cultural events in Dublin and around Ireland as well, so stay tuned because you will always find something to do! 

Written by Manon Thielin

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