I don’t know about you but this is the time of year that I usually think ahead to planning holidays. If you are planning on coming to Ireland in 2018 there are some fantastic festivals taking place throughout the year that you might want to include in your visit. Thanks so much to the Irish Bloggers Group for their pick of top festivals.
First Fortnight. Ireland’s Mental Health Arts Festival. Taking place countrywide and a really fantastic idea. Taking place in the first two weeks of January.
5th – 10th January Dublin Bowie Festival. Ground control to Major Tom, head to Dublin to celebrate all things Bowie.
5th – 28th January. Out to Lunch Arts Festival, Belfast. Music, talks, comedy, lunchtime and evening events.
19th – 21st January Akumakon, Galway. Anime, cosplay and gaming convention including special guests.
23rd – 28th January Kilkenny Ink a festival of visual storytelling, hosted by Cartoon Saloon who have been twice nominated for Oscars for their films.
24th – 28th January. TradFest in Dublin. Ireland’s largest traditional music festival taking place in some of the most historic locations in Dublin.
24th – 28th January. Banjo and Bovril Festival in The Harbour Bar, Bray which incidentally was voted The Best Bar in the World by The Lonely Planet. The festival is a revival of an old tradition that Paul Senior pioneered when short winter days were ended in the bar by playing the banjo and drinking mugs of Bovril.
25th – 28th January. Winter Music Festival, Ballincollig, Cork. Featuring Wallis Bird, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams and more.
27th January. Dublin Smartphone Film Festival. The first of it’s kind in Ireland and celebrating films shot of tablets and smartphones.
27th-29th January Sligo Walking Festival takes place with NorthWest Adventure Tours. Night walks, day walks, spectacular scenery and more.
1st – 4th February Wide Eyes the European celebration of performing arts for the very young Galway.
9th – 17th February Freedom Fit, Gorey, Co. Wexford. A fitness and wellness festival including family friendly activities, endurance events, runs, walks, mindfulness, and healthy eating talks and menus.
14th – 18th February. It’s the Bray Comedy Festival featuring the Rubber Bandits, Laughter Yoga (yes that’s a thing!), kids science magic to name a few.
18th Feb – March 4th Celebrate the Chinese New Year Festival in Dublin. There are talks, tours, celebrations and more in this fabulous festival celebrating the Year of the Dog.
22nd Feb – March 4th The Dublin International Film Festival. Awards, talks, workshops and of course films.
2nd – 4th March. Ennis Book Club Festival. Celebrating book clubs and readers in Ireland’s only book club festival.
8th – 10th March Craft Brews and Food Fest, Convention Centre, Dublin. The Fair will feature a host of local and international craft beverages as well as local culinary delights.
15th – 19th March. St. Patrick’s Festival Dublin. There will also be many St. Patrick Parade’s and celebrations taking place throughout the island of Ireland on March 17th.
Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival 2018 Dun Laoghaire Rathdown 21st – 25th March. Celebrating writers who hail or reside in the ‘dlr’ region; J.M Synge, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett grew up there, Hugh Leonard and Maeve Binchy lived there all their lives and contemporary writers who still reside in the area include Joseph O’Connor, Hugo Hamilton, Marian Keyes and Ross O’Carroll Kelly.
23rd-25th March West Cork Stone Symposium. Learn how to carve or build stone walls from experience tutors.
Franco Irish Literary Festival, Dublin. Dates to be confirmed but around the end of March, beginning of April.
4th – 7th April. Limerick Fringe Festival. Cabaret, Comedy, Dance & Physical Theatre, Kids & Youth, Spoken Word, Music, Theatre and Street Performance.
20th – 22nd April Shore Shots, Irish Surf Festival, Sligo. Join surfers from all over the world for talks, adventures and more.
Bealtaine Festival. A countrywide festival running for the whole of May celebrating the arts and creativity as we age.
May 2nd – Mon. May 7th, 2018 Roscommon Lamb Festival. Sheep sales, lamb blessings (yes, really), music, street parties, something for all the family. Ewed be maaad to miss it.
2nd – 20th May Dublin Dance Festival. Enabling audiences to discover inspirational artists lies at the heart of the Dublin Dance Festival mission.
4th – 6th May – Father Ted Festival in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare. Down with that kind of thing 😉 If you are a lovely girl or a wannabe nun this is the festival for you. You even get tea and cakes in Father Ted’s house! Gwan, gwan, gwan.
4th – 7th May Cup of Tae Festival, Adara, Co. Donegal. Music and I presume tea!
4th – 7th May Riverfest Limerick. Riverfest is a positive celebration of the land Limerick occupies, with Ireland’s longest river – the Shannon – running through it. There is something to get every member of the family excited.
7th – 13th May – Cos Cos Sean Nos Festival, Sligo join some of the country’s finest Sean Nós dancers, musicians, singers, poets and storytellers as they gather in the shadow of Benbulben.
9th – 15th May Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, Dublin. Experience an extraordinary collection of short films from the world’s most prestigious mountain film festival.
25th – 27th May Woollin – Dublin’s brand new festival of yarn! If you like to spin a yarn this is the festival for you. Craft classes, talks and more.
27th May Rockin Road Festival, Drumcondra. A fun filled family day of music, Vintage scooters,bikes and cars with lots to occupy the young too. Join in this annual fundraiser for children and students who use the services of Childvision.
The National Leprechaun Hunt in Carlingford. Need I say more? Date to be confirmed.
30th May-3rd June Listowel Writers’ Week in Co. Kerry. An internationally acclaimed literary festival devoted to bringing together writers and audiences at unique and innovative events.
31st May – 4th June Rory Gallagher Festival, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal. Live music festival to pay tribute to the wonderful Rory Gallagher.
31st May – 4th June. Bloom in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. I love this one; show gardens, music, the best of Irish food, demos and more.
31st May – 4th June. Kilkenny Cat Laughs. They say laughter is the best medicine so head along to Kilkenny for some fantastic comedy performances.
1st – 3rd June. Vantastival Festival, Louth. For fans and enthusiasts of the camper van and camping lifestyle. Enjoy the magic of this family friendly festival.
2nd – 4th June. Forbidden Fruit, Dublin. Fantastic bands in the stunning location of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.
June Fest, Newbridge, Co. Kildare. Music and Song, Community, Heritage, Visual Art, Theatre, Cinema, Literature, Sport, Comedy and Dance.
8th – 10th June. Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival. Music and more throughout the pretty town of Westport, Co. Mayo.
15th – 17th June. Féile na Gealaí a celebration of everything Irish. Ráth Chairn, Co. Meath
22nd – 24th June Body & Soul in Co. Westmeath. Enter another world in this Summer Solstice Experience. With new ideas, experiences and performances around every corner.
22nd – 24th June. Sea Sessions, Co. Donegal. Turning Bundoran into Fundoran with this Surf Music Festival. Acts so far include Dizzee Rascal and Walking on Cars.
24th June Belsonic, Belfast. Featuring The Script and Gavin James.
Seafest, Galway. June 29th – July 1st. SeaFest covers all things marine – from seafood cookery to science, cultural history to deep sea exploration and much more!
Muckno Mania, Castleblayney. A lovely family festival of fairytales. Taking place in July, dates to be confirmed.
7th and 8th July Groove Festival, Bray. Previous acts include UB40 and Hothouse Flowers.
Cairde Sligo Arts Festival. A week long event with lots of music, arts and fun, do check out ParkFest – a great, free, event for all the family. (held in July, dates to be confirmed)
8th – 15th July Ballina Salmon Festival. A fun filled week for the whole family. Fireworks, food and the famous heritage day.
11th – 29th July Earagail Arts Festival in Donegal. 19 days of theatre, carnivals, visual arts and more taking place all over Co. Donegal.
Black Pig Festival, Enniscrone, Co. Sligo. A festival celebrating a black pig who was possessed and ate everyone in her path! There are no man eating pigs at this festival (hopefully!) but there is a funfair, fireworks, soapbox derby and more. July – dates to be confirmed.
27th – 29th July Sunflowerfest. Music and arts in Hillsborough, Co. Down.
28th – 30th July Knockanstockan Festival, Blessington, Co. Wicklow. Music & Arts Festival bringing performers together to celebrate, showcase and share their talent with like-minded people.
Swell Festival, Arranmore Island, Co. Donegal. Take yourself to the island and enjoy music, Irish language, comedy, poetry and more in a spectacular location. July – dates to be confirmed.
Sligo Jazz Festival. An international summer school and jazz festival taking place in Sligo. Dates for 2018 not announced yet but it’s always towards the end of July.
Durrow Scarecrow Festival, Co. Laois. Is your scarecrow the most talked about thing in the village? If so take it along to the All-Ireland Scarecrow Festival and you might be the best in Ireland. Takes place in August, dates to be confirmed.
Mary from Dungloe Festival. Do you fancy being a Mary? This international festival is open to all – you don’t have to be a Mary. You get to meet Daniel O’Donnell too 🙂 Dates to be confirmed.
2nd – 12th August. Feile an Phobail (Festival of the People). West Belfast and beyond. Music, Comedy, Talks, Tours, Theatre, Debate, Family, Community and more.
3rd – 5th August Indiependence Festival, Co. Cork. Walking on Cars, King Kong Company, The Blizzards and many more play.
3rd – 5th August Spraoi, Waterford. A fantastic street arts festival. Parades, music and more.
Siamsa Sraide Swinford, Co. Mayo possibly the longest running festival in Ireland. On the August bank holiday weekend every year, 3rd to 8th Aug 2018
3rd – 12th August Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival. Celebrate the 50th anniversary of this wonderful festival.
8th – 13th August Feakle Festival. Workshops, concerts, sessions and more.
9th – 12th August. Sligo Summer Festival. Sligo comes alive with music with the gig rig in the centre of town. Previous acts have included Wheatus, Aslan, Boney M and more.
10th – 11th August. The Secret Village Festival, Ballaghdereen, Co. Roscommon. This has been known as the Electric Picnic for the west of Ireland….but shhh it’s a secret 😉
12th – 19th August Fleadh Cheoil 2018 Drogheda. The biggest celebration of Irish music, dance and song in the World. You can’t help but be swept away by the atmosphere.
16th – 19th August. The Big Grill Festival, Dublin. An international BBQ festival and competition.
August. Belmullet Gala Festival, Co. Mayo. Busking, crafts, heritage, music and more. Dates to be confirmed.
Dungannon Sand sculpting Festival. Gets the buckets and spades out and have a bit of fun. I’m told it gets quite competitive. Dates to be confirmed.
4th – 8th August The Old Fair Day Festival, Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo. A step back in time with this festival, see Ireland used to be in the fair days of the past. Family friendly event and most of it is free.
The Rose of Tralee 17th – 21st August, in Tralee (of course). Lovely girls from all over the world with Irish connections take part in this competition. I’m told by Laura that this is so much more than a competition, there’s music, craic and more.
18th – 26th August. National Heritage Week. A week long celebration of our Irish heritage. Lots of free family events taking place all over the island of Ireland.
August 23rd – 26th Carrickmacross Arts Festival. The biggest smallest festival in Ireland. Art, Music, Comedy, Drama, Poetry, Film, Crafts and Artisan trade stalls for ages 8 – 80.
Medieval Festival, Loughrea. Archery, food from the past, circus skills and more in this celebration of the past. Takes place over a weekend in August. Dates to be confirmed.
Electric Picnic in Strabally, Co. Laois. 31st August – 2nd September. One of the biggest festivals in Ireland. Music, comedy, food, fun. I’ve never been but from the photos I’ve seen it looks amazing!
Matchmaking Festival, Lisdoonvarna. Running throughout September. If you haven’t found Mr or Mrs Right yet head to Lisdoonvarna!
Irish Bog Snorkelling Championships, Co. Monaghan. This sounds epic! )Dates to be confirmed).
Pigtown, Limerick. Culture and Food Festival celebrating all things Limerick. I quite like the sound of the pig-nic! (Dates to be confirmed).
7th – 16th September A Taste of West Cork. Food demos, talks, walks and celebrating the best of food in West Cork.
Clonakilty International Guitar Festival 19th – 23rd September. “The Clonakilty International Guitar Festival is a celebration of the guitar. It is not starch collared or stuffy nosed, from virtuosos to noodlers, all are welcomed and exalted!”
Celtic Fringe Festival, Grange, Co. Sligo. 21st – 23rd September. Remembering the Spanish Armada and celebrating the links between Spain and Ireland.
Baboro International Arts Festival for Children, Galway 15th – 21st October. Baboró believe that every child should have access to excellent arts and cultural experiences both as audience and participants.
Cork Jazz Festival. 19th – 22nd October. A feast of jazz in Ireland’s longest running jazz festival.
Easkey Scarecrow Festival, Sligo takes place around Halloween. Take a drive through the village of Easkey and see all the fantastic scarecrows.
Sligo Live. Turning Sligo into Music City. Previous acts have included BellX1, Imelda May, Sheryl Crowe and more. Dates and acts for 2018 to be announced.
Derry Halloween. October Bank holiday weekend. A fantastic weekend in the walled city of Derry. Prepare to be amazed.
The Cheese Toastie Festival at The Harbour Bar, Bray. Do you think you make the best cheese toastie in Ireland? You’d be crackers to miss this one it sounds like gouda fun. Oct/Nov but dates to be confirmed.
11th – 18th November. Science Week, a countrywide festival celebrating science with talks, workshops, demos and more.
Other Voices (December – dates to be confirmed). Musicians from all over the world bring Dingle to life in a number of different venues. One for the music lovers.
Waterford Winterval. An annual celebration of Christmas taking place in December.
Thanks for reading the longest blog post I’ve ever written! Well the longest in researching it anyway. It’s actually amazed me how much is going on in our little island of Ireland and given me some ideas too! Well done to all the festival organisers on what sounds like some brilliant events.