Time for a picnic


GO IRELAND: The “season of mellow fruitfulness” has tons of delicious festivals waiting to be tasted

ANOTHER SEPTEMBER. How did that happen? Before we know it they’ll be turning the clocks back. All the more reason to make the most of what’s left of the light with a trip to one of the harvest of events taking place this autumn. There’s a bumper crop.

Call it primitive instinct but it’s all about food at this time of year, storing it up for the dark days ahead. Little wonder that there are so many foodie events slated for the coming weeks.

The Westport Food Festival (September 21st-23rd) is back for its second year, with a tasty programme of events including cookery demos, food workshops and stalls. Serve yourself a second course the following month at Savour Kilkenny (October 26th-29th), where the emphasis is on home-grown and wholesome. New this year is a Food Heroes event, promoting local producers such as Knockdrinna Cheese, Goatsbridge Trout and Truffle Fairy.

In Galway it’s all about oysters, with the Clarinbridge Oyster Festival (September 15th-16th) and the International Oyster and Seafood Festival (September 28th-30th) both taking place in quick succession.

The former includes a family fun day, live music and a children’s pearl hunt, as well as plenty of seafood. The latter has a Mardi Gras-style parade through the streets of Galway, plus the World Oyster Opening Championships – so get in training now.

From there, the autumn menu takes you to Dingle, Co Kerry, for its annual Food Festival (October 4th-7th). Its Taste Trail takes in 45 locations – shops, pubs and even galleries – where you can sample the fare. Free cookery demos will take place in St James’ Church, including ones for children.

If you’re in the market for a hobby to while away the winter months, check out the workshops in everything from bee and hen keeping to chocolate making and wine tasting. Yes, it’s a hobby.

Serious gourmets will be keeping their bibs clean for Kinsale’s 36th Gourmet Festival (October 12th-14th). It includes a Mad Hatter’s escorted tour around the 10 members of the town’s Good Food Circle, showcasing dishes prepared for the event.

If all that has whetted your appetite early, fear not. Waterford’s Harvest Food Festival (September 10th-16th) kicks off tomorrow with celeb chefs Neven Maguire, Darina Allen and Martin Dorey cooking up a storm, plus slow food tours, restaurant trails and an artisanal beerfest.

Neven, of MacNean House, will be back in action at the International Mushroom Festival (October 13th and 14th) at Killegar, Co Leitrim, catering to foraged food lovers.

Of course, you’ll want to feed your mind as well as your tum this mellow, misty season, which is why a feast of cultural events has also been cooked up. Much of it takes place in Dublin. Stay up past your bedtime for Culture Night (September 21st), the annual event in which Dublin museums, galleries, churches, historic houses, artists’ studios and more open their doors for free.

Last year more than 160,000 people put away their PJs and visited 150 venues including the Dublin Writers Museum, Gallery Number One and Trinity College Library.

The theme of this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival (September 27th to October 14th)is Your City, Your Stories. Look out for Public Face III, a neon installation that uses technological wizardry to record the facial expressions of passersby.

Music lovers will hot foot it to Hard Working Class Heroes (October 4th-6th), a festival showcasing Irish bands and musicians, where you can see 100 bands in six venues over three days, all with one ticket.

Beyond the Pale, you’ll have to be fast to catch the Harvest Time Blues Festiival Festival in Monaghan town. It’s on this weekend and promises a Blues trail through the town with around 40 gigs is several venues. Don’t miss the Clifden Community Arts Festival (September 20th- 30th) in Galway, with a packed programme including live music and theatre.

Bookmark the 10th Graiguenamanagh Town of Books festival (September 21st- 23rd) a literature lover’s delight in Co Kilkenny designed to help bibliophiles of all sorts discover bargain, rare and specialist books from booksellers all over Ireland.

Finally, at Storytelling Southeast (September 26th-30th) in Waterford discover how stories are told, from traditional tales to poetry, plays, film and music. Just make sure you’re sitting comfortably.

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