The 28 Irish Festivals You Have To Go To This Summer
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, and if you wanted to, you could go to a festival every single weekend of the summer. We've drawn up a nifty list of thirty 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. The list is chronological, starting next week and bringing you all the way through til the end of September.
Start airing out that tent in the back garden lads, festival season us nearly upon us!
This festival kicks off the antics of the coming months next Friday. 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. Be sure to catch Omar S and Jay Daniel's sets if you make it down next week..
15th April - 18th April
This creative and intimate festival sees twelve bands perform over four nights, selected from hundreds of online submissions. 12 Points festival alternates between Dublin and partner cities, with previous editions taking place in various European locations like Umea and Porto. It’s a really cool opportunity for artists to get to know each other, and a great way for music fans to see raw talent perform before their very eyes. There is no better festival to experience the breadth, energy, ambition and diversity through which young European musicians are making the jazz of tomorrow.
29th April - 2nd May
This interactive arts festival creates extraordinary experiences across the city with an amazing international programme of live performance, digital interactions, dialogues, exhibitions and publications never before shown in Ireland. The majority of the events take place within the Project Arts Centre, with some site-specific spread across the city. Last year's programme was absolutely jampacked with things to do and see in the city, so keep an eye out for the 2015 festival programme which will be released shortly.
1st May - 3rd May
This is an amazing family-friendly festival which takes place over the May Bank Holiday Weekend in Bellurgan Park, Co. Louth. They have three stages of music and entertainment with 70 acts performing over the course of the weekend. 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. Seriously fun!
1st May - 4th 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. From midday to midnight audiences wind their way through the medieval streets sampling the huge range of music in over 30 venues, hosting over acts from across the globe. There’s a mixture of old and new acts on the free pub gig trail and all styles are catered for so it's well worth making a weekend of it!
23rd May - 24th May
If ever there was a feel-good festival, it's the Dublin City Soul Festival, where people come together to celebrate peace, unity and love. Taking place over two days in various locations including Merrion Square it is a vibrant, multi-cultural and positive festival celebrating soulfulness. No matter what the weather, Merrion Square is the perfect place to be for this amazing display of music, dance and workshops.
AVA (Audio Visual Arts) Belfast, is a one day grass roots 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. It takes place in the industrial yet cool surroundings of T13 in the Titanic Quarter. There'll be free talks and workshops during the daytime before things get a little heavier with an evening showcase from headliners Bicep, Ejeca, Optimo, Space Dimension Controller as well as the first ever Boiler Room broadcast from Ireland.
29th May - 31st May
You can't beat the buzz of a festival over a bank holiday weekend, especially when it's right on your doorstep. Forbidden Fruit have really knocked it out of the park this year with the lineup and by adding a Friday night of music to what was previously a two day festival. No need to book any days off work (except maybe the Monday morning!) and you can see the likes of Wu Tang Clan, Nicolas Jaar, Jamie xx, Tensnake and Booka Shade right smack bang in the middle of Dublin's fair city.
29th May - 31st 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 on it - Pantha du Prince, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Robert Hood and so many more. If Forbidden Fruit feels a bit too tame, this is your festival...
31st May - 1st June
This festival reels back the decades to the anti-jazz movement of the 30’s, and takes place this time over the June Bank Holiday weekend. Who knows devilment Dubliners will get up if the sun comes out, with hip swivelling music and decadent improvising from the country’s finest jazz musicians, and the trading of oysters and porter to boot in Meeting House Square?
12th June - 14th 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 old-timey, cajun, blues and just plain old ‘folk’. Almost everything is free and in local pubs for the most part. The Festival atmosphere is warm and open, and, most importantly, have fun. The audience consists of everyone from seasoned folk and bluegrass fans to people just looking for a bit of fun.
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, B.A.R.E Festival was made for lovers of art and music and the lineup this year is cracking - Roots Manuva, Nanu Nanu, Dan Shake and loads more.
19th June - 21st 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 Flight Facilities, Mmoths, Talaboman and Rhye but to name 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.
19th June - 21st 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. Like many of the festivals this year, they have really upped their game with their lineup this year - there'll be performances from Seasick Steve, Kormacs Big Band and Lee Scratch Perry as well as DJ sets from our very own Krystal Klear and Klingande.
27th June - 28th June
This is a fun filled festival with international and Irish acts performing across 7 stages as well as comedians, chefs and activities. 20,000 music fans attended the two-day music & food extravaganza last year and this year promises to be even bigger and better. Hopefully the weather will oblige and it'll make for a sunny weekend in the southwest.
4th July - 12th July
Not actually a week, more like a fortnight but sure look who's fussy?! 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, by 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!
10th July - 26th 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, family and children centred events and workshops. Each year they bring inspiring performers over as well as showcasing artists native to the area. Plenty to choose from and something for every taste, but special shout out goes to the The Donegal International Folk and Roots Festival which takes place from 10th - 13th July as part of it.
10th July - 12th July
After what felt like a very long two years, this beautiful arts and cultural boutique island festival is back with a bang. There's nothing quite like travelling by boat to a festival, and landing on a new space which will become your home for the next three days. Surrounded by ocean, landscape and amazing people, you'll be overwhelmed by the stunning scenery, and bowled over by the lovely shared experiences of such a small, intimate festival.
13th July - 26th 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 expolodes in a kaleidoscope of happenings, plays, comedy shows, live gigs and concerts. This year's schedule for the festival is already seriously impressive with St. Vincent, Little Green Cars and John Grant amongst the first announcement. Book a few days off work and head west, it's worth it even for the street parties and silent discos!
17th July - 19th July
If you're Dubln-based, you don't have to travel far for this one so it's very handy as festivals go with just a hop, skip and a jump out to Marlay Park. They've got a whopper lineup this year which sees Caribou, Wild Beasts, Todd Terje, SBTRKT, Metronomy, Kaytranada, Hudson Mohawke playing, so it's looking like it'll be a good one.
31st July - 2nd 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. We're eagerly awaiting the 2015 lineup announcement - if last year's was anything to go by we're in for a treat!
31st July - 2nd 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 Jape, Mark Lanegan, The Dandy Warhols so it's a must for any fans of acoustic and live music!
9th August - 16th August
The Fleadh is a competition for amateur musicians, it's a holiday and it's one hell a party. The first half of the week in Sligo is taken up by Scoil Éigse. 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.
15th August - 26th 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 Duke Dumont, Bastille and the Stereophonics right in Belfast's city centre, tickets are super reasonable as well!
22nd August - 24th August
Nestled amongst the leafy splendor of Killyon Manor and it’s sumptuous grounds – Another Love Story is a weekend celebration of music, discussion, yoga, film, food and friends brought to you by Happenings & Homebeat. 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 even though the lineup hasn't been announced yet. Just sayin'!
4th Sept - 6th Sept
This one needs little or no introduction, if you haven't been guarantee all your friends have and you've suffered from as sever case of FOMO as a result. Whether it's dancing to Together Disco at Jerry Fish's Electric Sideshow, getting married at the Inflatable Church, roaming through the woods in search of the Red Bull after hours shindig or just chilling in the Gamelatron at the Body and Soul section, Picnic's a bit of a babe really. This year's lineup is looking pretty tasty indeed with Jon Hopkins, Florence and the Machine, Future Islands and Róisín Murphy amongst the first names announced. We all know it's the only way to So your summer, and you'd be fooling yourself by saying you're not gonna go!
The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is one of Ireland’s oldest traditional festival takes place in the small Co. Clare town every September. The festival now over 150 years old 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 soul mates. Dancing takes place in venues all over town and they even have a third generation matchmaker on hand to bring hopeful singles together, and he's proud to say that many of his matches have since gotten married. Sure who needs Tinder with him around?!
10th Sept - 13th Sept
There are two events during the calendar year which cause Dingle's residents to batten down the hatches for the influx of visitors to their town - New Year's Eve and Dingle Tradfest. 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.
These festivals aren't taking place this year, but they more than deserved a mention, all three will be dearly missed in the 2015 festival calendar..