Four of the best summer arts festivals along the Wild Atlantic Way this year
Brought to you by Discover Ireland
We certainly won't be short of summer arts festivals this year!
We may only be a small nation, but Ireland has certainly left its mark on the global arts scene. Between painters like Francis Bacon and writers such as James Joyce and W.B. Yeats, we have a lot to celebrate.
And celebrate we do, with summer being the ideal time of year to bring lovers of the arts together. Summer 2019 will be no different, and where better to appreciate Ireland's artists than on the stunning coastal route of the Wild Atlantic Way?
West Cork Chamber Music Festival
West Cork. Two words that call to mind unspoiled beauty, rugged coastlines and some of the best food in the country. It’s also a destination for both classical music aficionados and book lovers thanks to a pair of much-loved sister festivals.
First up is the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, which runs from Friday, 28 June until Sunday, 7 July, in Bantry. Several venues in the town play host to classical musicians from here and abroad with the stately Bantry House hosting several of the performances. Among those performing is the pianist Finghin Collins and the Chiaroscuro Quartet.
West Cork Literary Festival
A week later, on Friday, 12 July, the West Cork Literary Festival gets under way until 19 July, with much of the programme also centred on beautiful Bantry House. There will be readings, signings and masterclasses taking place with Former President Mary Robinson and broadcaster Graham Norton among the authors taking part.
No matter which of the festivals takes your fancy, you’ll be spoiled for things to do in this wonderful part of Ireland. How about a trip to Dursey Island on the country’s only cable car? It’s a mode of transport that never fails to thrill.
Or what about a tour of Sheep’s Head? You could drive it, but it’s even better to tackle it on two wheels. Make time to gaze out onto the water — if you’re lucky you’ll catch a whale coming up for air.
Galway International Arts Festival
Any culture lover worth their salt will know all about the Galway International Arts Festival. One of the longest-running arts festivals in the country — now in its 42nd year — it has an enviable overseas reputation ensuring that not only do people come to Galway city specially for the festival, but it also attracts some of the world’s biggest names in theatre, music, and the arts.
This year’s installment runs from Monday, 15 July until Monday, 29 July and boasts a magnificent programme. The music offering is especially arresting. There’s Robert Plant’s new acoustic band, Saving Grace, as well as performances from John Grant, Orbital and Macy Gray. Homegrown bands include Two Door Cinema Club, Villagers and Bell X1.
There’s plenty of exciting theatre too including the Irish debut of Dead Dog In A Suitcase — it’s a must-see new show from trailblazing UK company Kneehigh.
The full, extensive programme will be launched on 15 May — just in time to plan a visit during that July fortnight. There’s so much to do in the area. Galway city has become something of a foodie destination with Aniar among the sumptuous Michelin-star offerings in the city.
Further afield, a drive out to Connemara is always a tonic for the soul. Stop off at the Derrigimlagh Bog, close to Clifden, and take a walk around what’s left of Marconi’s wireless station. It’s also the site where Alcock and Brown achieved the very first transatlantic flight — 100 years ago this year.
Earagail Arts Festival
The beating heart of Donegal’s arts scene, Earagail Arts Festival has been running in Letterkenny since 1988. This year there are 19 days packed with music, theatre, visual arts, literature and so much more. And there’s something for all the family to enjoy.
It takes place from Wednesday, 10 July right up to Monday, 29 July and you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to must-see events. The acclaimed Dublin folk quartet, Lankum, play the Regional Cultural Centre on 12 July and if world music is your thing, make sure not to miss French-Haitian chanteuse Moonlight Benjamin, who plays the same venue on 13 July.
Comedy fans are in for a treat if they check out US funnyman Jim Gaffigan. This actor, writer, producer and best-selling author is revered for his rib-tickling observations on modern life. He will be joined by local comic Aoife O’Connor, who’s been making quite a name for herself of late.
And if you’re after something out of the ordinary in the Earagail programme, venture onto Arranmore Island Mór Music & Arts Trail — a new two-day celebration of music, spoken word and comedy.
Donegal is a place that really puts the ‘wild’ into the Wild Atlantic Way, and there are hundreds of kilometres of coastline to explore. Why not head to one of the country’s great lighthouses, at Fanad Head? This beacon has been keeping seafarers safe for hundreds of years.
You won’t want to miss the spectacular Sliabh Liag cliffs either, which are definitely worth a detour. Recent work there has opened up 2.5km of new mountain pathway, as well as a new visitor centre, transportation hub, and car parks so you can fully appreciate this stunning natural landscape.
A festival makes your break, so head to head to our Discover Ireland festivals hub to discover even more options to make your break in Ireland something magical.
Brought to you by Discover Ireland