The weather’s warming up, the days are getting longer and it’s got us dreaming of being at a festival, drink in hand, dancing away without a care in the world.
We may be a small island, but jaysus do we know how to party. If you wanted to, you could go to a festival every single weekend of the summer. We’ve drawn up a nifty list of the best music festivals in Ireland taking place over the coming months.
In terms of different tastes, there’s something for everyone with everything from electronic music to bluegrass, live art to music festivals, island escapes to woodland getaways.
Start airing out that tent in the back garden lads, festival season us nearly upon us!
Sure what else would you be doing on Good Friday with all pubs and clubs locked up for the day other than raving down in Glendalough? Formerly known as Barn Dance, it’s a BYOB music and arts festival with a host of international acts in the house, techno and electronica scene, as well as plenty of artisan food stalls, art installations, comedy and theatre.
3rd and 4th May
This is an amazing family-friendly festival, which takes place over the May Bank Holiday Weekend in Beaulieu House and Gardens in Co. Louth. There’s a pretty deadly line-up this year including The Riptide Movement, Kila and Choice Music Prize nominees Overhead, The Albatross and Heroes In Hiding.
There’s serious emphasis placed on bringing your campervan and embracing a nomadic lifestyle, and there’ll be loads of gourmet food stalls, festival traders, scheduled kids’ activities, art, craft and many other quirky additions.
28th April – 1st May
This festival has been on the go since 1998, and has attracted the likes of Guy Clark, Chuck Prophet and Ray LaMontagne playing folk, blues, bluegrass, rockabilly and cajun-inspired music. You can see this year’s line-up here.
2nd and 3rd June
AVA (Audio Visual Arts) Belfast is a two-day grassroots festival and conference that celebrates, amplifies and develops the strong current of electronic music and digital visual arts that has emerged from Northern Ireland in recent years.
3rd to 5th June
You can’t beat the buzz of a festival over a Bank Holiday weekend, especially when it’s right on your doorstep. Forbidden Fruit has really knocked it out of the park this year with the line-up, which features Orbital, Aphex Twin and Bon Iver.
26th May – 28th May
This festival showcases the finest electronic artists over a three day open-air weekender in the stunning surrounds of Belvedere House and Gardens. You can relax in the sun by the lakeside stage, chill out in the shade of the wooded areas or bask in the glory of the main arena. This year’s Life Festival lineup is by far the best so far with some insanely good acts including Rudimental and Duke Dumont.
9th June – 11th June
Looking for a bit of craic? Head west to the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival. Over three days, there’ll be a load of gigs, plenty of massive sessions, as well as masterclasses and workshops.
The music will be varied, from traditional bluegrass through to old-timey, cajun, blues and just plain old ‘folk’. Almost everything is free and in local pubs for the most part. The audience consists of everyone from seasoned folk and bluegrass fans to people just looking for a bit of fun.
9th – 11th June
No, this isn’t some nudist cult who meet in a forest once a year in June… It’s actually a music and art festival. B.A.R.E. stands for Bringing Another Righteous Event and what a righteous event it is. Nestled in the woods of Garryhinch on the former Warburton Estate, we reckon it’s the next Body & Soul.
23rd June – 25th June
Things don’t get much more magical than Body and Soul. Taking place over the Summer Solstice weekend at Ballinlough Castle, the grounds and woods are transformed to create a mystical atmosphere. You never know what you might stumble upon, with installations of all sorts around every corner.
The lineup this year is shaping up pretty nicely with Metronomy, Sleaford Mods and Vitalic to name just a few. However, the real magic of Body and Soul is having a woodland boogie at the Reckless In Love stage, or going for a midnight jacuzzi, or having a chance encounter with a handsome stranger under the moonlight. Other-worldly.
23rd June – 25th June
Sea, surfing, tunes and hopefully sunshine – Sea Sessions has got it all (weather depending!). The festival combines loads of activities like beach soccer, tag rugby and ultimate frisbee with three days of live music and DJs right on the coast of Bundoran in Donegal. The festival announced its line-up this week, with acts including Sigma, The Coronas and Primal Scream confirmed as headliners.
30th June – 9th July
You can’t get more traditionally Irish than the Willie Clancy Festival. Taking place in the beautiful coastal town of Milltown Malbay in the west of Co. Clare, right by Spanish Point, you could not have a more perfect summer setting. By day, there are heaps of workshops and masterclasses for any musicians hoping to hone their trad music skills, while at night every building along the main street of the village is packed with people performing Irish dancing and traditional Irish music.
The sessions have been known to go on until the sun starts creeping over Spanish Point, but everyone’s in the same boat so you’ve no excuse for missing your morning tin whistle lessons!
4th July – 23rd July
Earagail Arts Festival is a bilingual (Irish and English language), multidisciplinary arts festival which takes place each July throughout County Donegal along the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s is a venue-based music and arts festival with eclectic and alternative music, visual arts, circus and theatre programmes alongside the spoken word, film and family events and workshops.
17th July – 30th July
A trip to Galway during the summer is always a good idea – you can spend lazy afternoons drinking cans at Spanish Arch, go jumping off the board in Blackrock, and eat in some of the best restaurants in the country. Galway’s such a vibrant city but during the Arts Festival, it explodes in a kaleidoscope of happenings, plays, comedy shows, live gigs and concerts. This year’s schedule for the festival is already seriously impressive with Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and Passenger among the first announcements. Book a few days off work and head West, it’s worth it even for the street parties and silent discos!
14th July – 16th July
If you’re DublIn-based, you don’t have to travel far for this one as it’s just a hop, skip and a jump out to Marlay Park. They’ve got a whopper lineup this year which sees Stormzy, The Weekend and Mumford and Sons headlining, so it’s looking like it’ll be a good one. Get your tickets quick though, Saturday is already sold out!
4th August – 6th August
The beauty of Castlepalooza is the wooded wonderland around Charleville Castle where everything takes place, it’s filled with merriment, magic, madness and maggot-acting. This is a relatively small festival but all the better for making new best friends with every person you encounter.
4th July – 6th August
Deer Park in Mitchelstown, Cork comes alive over the August Bank Holiday as people in search of the session arrive in their droves. The festival features a wide variety of artists as well as comedy, spoken word, a small cinema and other attractions. This year’s first lineup announcement features Tom Odell, Manic Street Preachers and The Coronas so there’s something for everyone!
13th August – 21st August
The Fleadh is a competition for amateur musicians, it’s a holiday and it’s one hell of a party. Classes are held for people of all ages and abilities in traditional Irish music, while walking and historical tours are held for visitors along with films, seminars, street performances and markets. The evening is usually spent crammed into tiny cosy pubs for a hearty sing-along, a seisiún and a rake of pints. The heart of the festival is the enjoyment of music and the love for Irish culture, and there’s a lovely sense of Irish pride that flows through the Fleadh.
13th August – 30th August
This is an outdoor music festival which is held at the Custom House Square in Belfast each August. There’s a whole load of different gigs taking place over the course of the festival, and you can go see the likes of Arcade Fire, Jess Glynn and The Chainsmokers.
18th August – 20th August
This is a weekend celebration of music, discussion, yoga, film, food and friends. Another Love Story is not just a festival weekender but a gathering of hearts, minds, ideas and moods, and it’s such an experience that you should probably buy your ticket right now.
1st Sept – 3rd Sept
This one needs little or no introduction. If you haven’t been, we can guarantee all your friends have and you’ve suffered from a severe case of FOMO as a result. Whether it’s dancing at Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow or roaming through the woods in search of the after-hours shindig, you can’t beat the Picnic.
The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is one of Ireland’s oldest traditional festival takes place in the small Co. Clare town every September. The festival is now over 150 years old and attracts up to 60,000 people from all over the world, who come for the music and the dancing but also in the hopes of finding their soulmates.
Dancing takes place in venues all over town and they even have a third-generation matchmaker on hand to bring hopeful singles together. Sure who needs Tinder with him around?!
8th Sept – 10th Sept
The festival provides a platform for both national and internationally acclaimed performing artists to showcase modern and original talents within the usually more traditional environment that is the Dingle Peninsula. There’ll be dancing in the streets, and in the middle of a trad sesh, some aul lad will probably whip out two spoons out of his pocket and start playing them but sure what better way to finish your summer? Get thee to Dingle.
This one-day festival is brand new and taking place in Wicklow this July. The line-up hasn’t been revealed yet but the festival is promising “live music, workshops, DJs, MCs, art, games, spoken word, locally brewed beer, BYOB, fresh food and beautiful surroundings”.
You’ve probably seen the TV show at this stage but nothing beats being in Dingle for this magical festival, which celebrates Irish music. It’s a great spot to find your new favourite band and it’s always full of surprises. Book your accommodation early – we’ll see you in Benners!