A summer trip to Ireland isn’t complete without taking part in one of the many music, art and culture festivals because Ireland’s festivals bring fun, laughter, good times and great memories.
1.Among the key dates to watch this summer is the Galway International Arts Festival https://www.giaf.ie (11-24 July), which has been described as “the biggest, most exciting and most imaginative explosion of artistic activities “of the island of Ireland. This year it features artists from Africa, America, Asia, Australia, Europe and, of course, Ireland and Galway, in a major program of theater, music, comedy, visual art, dance and literary events.
There will be concerts by extraordinary artists from the likes of Pixies, The Flaming Lips and The Stunning, with theatrical highlights including a production of Sam Shepard’s True West, from the Chicago-based Steppenwolf Company. Among many other events is “Lifeline”, an ambitious project from the days of Galway European Capital of Culture, which will see 150 locals perform on a rope above the River Corrib.
2. For a taste of “salty” air, head to the magical Foyle Maritime Festival https://www.foylemaritime.com in Derry-Londonderry (20-24 July), where the famous Walled City of Northern Ireland will welcome sailors who will take part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Various activities are scheduled, such as street theater, fireworks, water sports and gastronomic delights in abundance. Surrounded by the fascinating history of the city walls and a fleet of 70-foot ocean liners, this is a festival not to be missed.
3. Played on the beautiful Causeway Coastal Route and surrounding areas in Northern Ireland, SuperCup NI https://www.supercupni.com (24-29 July) is a world-renowned international youth football tournament. Featuring teams from Mexico, Bermuda and the English Premier League, including Man Utd, it offers a unique opportunity for fans to identify some of football’s most promising talents and future stars.
4. Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (Music Festival of Ireland) https://fleadhcheoil.ie is the largest traditional Irish music festival on the planet. This year it takes place in Mullingar, County Westmeath, in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands (from 31 July to 7 August). Featuring a week of Irish music, song and dance, not to mention evening entertainment and family fun, the festival is the highlight of summer for music buffs and culture vultures.
5. Located in lively Belfast, August Féile https://feilebelfast.com (4-14 August) is part of Féile an Phobail, the largest community festival on the island. A celebration of diversity, passion and creativity, drawing people from all over the world to West Belfast. It is advisable to attend the carnival parade on Saturday 6 August and to concerts, comedies, speeches, tours, theater, debates and, above all, the great community party.
6. Or you can decide to spend enchanting summer evenings of music, comedy, film and theater in the beautiful seaside town of Bangor, in Northern Ireland, which has just gained UK city status. The Open House Festival https://openhousefestival.com (11-29 August) will take place in the stunning Bangor Castle Walled Garden and will feature artists such as Beth Orton, Paul Brady, Eddi Reader and the Hothouse Flowers, with screenings of classic films including including Thelma and Louise and Chicago.
7. An integral part of an Irish summer is one of the largest show jumping events in the world, the Dublin International Horse Show https://www.dublinhorseshow.com (17 – 21 August). A celebration of Ireland’s affinity for the horse and all things equine, it lights up August and welcomes competitors and visitors from all over the world. Over 1,000 magnificent horses and ponies are involved in this magical spectacle, but it is also renowned for style, shopping and socializing.
8. Running since 1959, the Rose of Tralee International Festival https://www.roseoftralee.ie (19-23 August) is another Irish festival not to be missed. See the streets of Tralee turn into a party of parades, music, circus, funfair, markets and traditional Irish entertainment. The five days of events culminate in two evenings, in which roses of Irish origin from all over the world come and have a special place dedicated to them to pay homage to the Irish diaspora.
9. The Antrim Coast Half Marathon https://antrimcoasthalfmarathon.com (28 August) awaits the bravest. It takes place against the backdrop of the Causeway Coastal Route, voted “one of the top five greatest journeys on Earth” by Lonely Planet. The World Athletics certified course is flat and fast, promising one of the fastest half marathons in the world.
10. For movie buffs, the Galway Film Fleadh https://www.galwayfilmfleadh.com (5 – 10 July) is the perfect place to explore exciting new feats in the world of cinema, and, for an exciting 15 days on the Wild Atlantic Way, don’t miss the Eearagail Arts Festival https://eaf.ie (9 – 24 July) in County Donegal.
11. For street art lovers, the Viking city of Waterford offers Spraoi Waterford https://spraoi.com (29 – 31 July), with its four days of non-stop fun in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East.
With all these events, fun on the Island of Ireland is guaranteed throughout the summer. And given that when it comes to festivals, Ireland is truly unique, it would be a real shame not to organize yourself to see at least one!