Four great summer festivals to check out if you fancy something different this year
Brought to you by Discover Ireland
Plenty more summer festivals to choose from this year, no matter your interests!
Get into the spirit of summer with festivals that will expand your mind, tickle your funny bone, satisfy your sonic cravings and sate your inner foodie — and make a proper break of it in some of the country’s most popular regions.
James Joyce’s Ulysses may not be the easiest of books to get through, but even if you haven’t yet tackled it, there’s no end of fun to be had in the festival inspired by its central character, Leopold Bloom. This year, the Bloomsday Festival runs from 11–16 June and features a huge range of activities to get you out and about in Dublin to the places most associated with James Joyce and the characters from his novels.
Try the new Joyce-inspired walking tour which starts at the home of Leopold Bloom at No.7 Eccles St or cross over to the southside and enjoy lunch in Davy Byrnes, where Bloom himself stopped for a glass of wine. After that, the tour will wrap up at the at the James Joyce Tower and Museum in Sandycove, where the opening scene from Ulysses is set.
There are lots of food and drink events inspired by the book’s Edwardian setting too. How about a Joycean pub crawl and special Bloomsday breakfasts on the day itself, 16 June?
Don’t miss: Seeing as your there to celebrate Joyce, we recommend a trip to Dublin Writers Museum, which houses an impressive collection of items from Ireland's most famous writers.
Accommodation: The Green Hotel.
Cork Midsummer Festival
The Cork Midsummer Festival (13–23 June) is one of the must-see urban festivals of the summer and has a carefully curated programme to appeal to aficionados of theatre, music, dance and visual art. There’s a strong focus on Ireland’s emerging talent in the creative arts there’s a chance to catch events that are completely different from the norm.
And Theatre for One is certainly different: there’s just one actor — and you, the sole audience member. This intensely intimate theatre is on the plaza outside the Opera House. It’s free — just join the queue.
And Sō Percussion at Cork Opera House (18 June) sounds like great fun, especially if drumming is your thing — what sort of racket can four percussionists drum up on stage together?
Don’t miss: There are plenty of fantastic bars to sample in Cork city, with Crane Lane, Franciscan Well (home of the Rebel Red), and Costigan's being our pick of the bunch. Sate your appetite at the Farm Gate Cafe, housed in the venerable English Market.
Accommodation: The Imperial Hotel.
Earagail Arts Festival
One of Donegal’s most enduring festivals, Earagail Arts Festival has been running in Letterkenny since 1988. This year’s programme (10–29 July) has music, theatre, visual arts, literature — and something to appeal to all the family.
The music programme is particularly strong. Don’t miss the revered Dublin folk quartet Lankum when they play the Regional Cultural Centre on 12 July and if world music floats your boat, make a date for the French-Haitian chanteuse, Moonlight Benjamin, who plays the same venue on 13 July. Comedy fans will have plenty to chuckle over too. US comic Jim Gaffigan is famed for his witty observations on daily life.
Don’t miss: Go for a hike around the shores of scenic Lough Eske and make time for a guided tour at the stunning Donegal Castle, which dates from the 15th century. Take a road trip to remember on the Inishowen 100, a spectacular 100-mile signposted scenic route along the Wild Atlantic Way that's ideal for a bit of golfing, fishing, cycling, or even whale watching!
Accommodation: Lough Eske Castle Hotel.
Kilkenny Roots Festival
They really know how to do arts festivals in Kilkenny and Marble City hosts some of the very best each summer, including the Kilkenny Roots Festival (which we’ve just had) and the forthcoming Kilkenny Cats Laughs. But the jewel in the crown of this medieval marvel is arguably the Kilkenny Arts Festival (8–18 August) — a multidisciplinary offering to appeal to arts lovers of every hue.
This year’s programme includes a performance from English folk veteran, Richard Thompson (at the intimate Set Theatre, 14 August), as well as classical shows from the cream of international talent including Alexander Gavryluk (St Canice’s Cathedral, 10 August) and a spoken word meets classic music event featuring actor Ciarán Hinds.
Don’t miss: Venture outside Kilkenny city for a Michelin-starred meal at the Lady Helen’s restaurant at Mount Juliet. Stay the night if funds allow. In the city, visit the Smithwick’s Experience to learn about how the now-iconic ale was once made entirely in secret, and enjoy a pint later in Kytelers Inn.
Accommodation: Langton House Hotel.
A festival makes your break, so 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