50 things to do in Ireland this summer
Unmissable films, groovy festivals, canine gatherings, and isn't there a sporting event or two taking place?
1. Music: Live at the Marquee
Monahan Road, Cork June 7th-July 13th
Cork’s big tent fills with a dependable stable of big-name draws familiar to Irish audiences: Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Don Henley, Gavin James, The Corrs, Simply Red, Slayer and Anthrax, Foals, Walking on Cars and Pixies will all be in attendance. It’s hardly reinventing the wheel, but if you’re looking for big gigs in Munster, these are where they happen.
From €28; aikenpromotions.com
2. Music: Belsonic
Titanic Quarter, Belfast June 9th-29th, August 18th-27th
Want big gigs? Belfast hosts 14 unsinkable shows: Tiesto, Chemical Brothers, Faithless with Le Galaxie, Bring Me the Horizon with And So I Watch You from Afar, Foals, Biffy Clyro, David Guetta, Ellie Goulding, Stereophonics, the Corrs, Madness, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Disclosure and Fatboy Slim. Two weeks of hands in the air over two months.
Various prices; belsonic.com
3. Literary: Kate Tempest
Smock Alley, Dublin June 10th
This spoken-word star, whose new novel appeared recently, is a compelling artist with a lot to say and a beautiful and exhilarating way of saying it. This Writers @ Smock Alley Series, presented by the Gutter Bookshop, sees Tempest take over the Banquet Hall in the theatre.
4. Literary: Borris House Festival of Writing & Ideas
Borris, Co Carlow June 10th-12th
With talks about touring with The Rolling Stones, a reading of Seamus Heaney’s Aeneid, insights into the world of female war correspondents, chats about punk and serial killers, and a lot more, Borris House hosts one of the most eclectic literary festivals around. The excellent line-up includes Deborah Levy, Martin Amis, Chrissie Hynde, Mariella Frostrup, Dominic West, Joseph O’Neill, Fintan O’Toole and Olivia O’Leary.
From €12; festivalofwritingandideas.com
5. Sport: Uefa Euro 2016
Your TV, your friend’s gaff, your local pub June 10th-July 10th
With Belgium, Sweden and Italy in the Republic of Ireland’s group, getting past the first stage of the tournament isn’t unimaginable. Northern Ireland can take some inspiration from the Republic’s performances against Germany, but Poland and Ukraine will be tricky for them too. Nevertheless, hope is the thing with feathers that perches in Shane Long’s soul.
The price of stress; uefa.com/uefaeuro
6. Food: Street Feast
Across Ireland June 12th
This day of street parties, neighbourhood lunches and community get-togethers is growing annually. Generated by enthusiastic local crowds, nearly 1,000 Street Feasts have already been registered for this seventh year, so check out the site and the event’s Facebook page to see what’s going on in your area, or start your own.
7. Music: Body & Soul
Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath June 17th-19th
Now that Electric Picnic has expanded, Body & Soul can claim to be the premier smaller boutique music-and-arts festival in Ireland. It takes place in a gorgeous setting, with a vibe that is equally holistic and hedonistic; the music, the talks and the look of the site are all excellent. This year music comes from The Gloaming, Santigold, Floating Points, Mercury Rev and Girl Band, among others. The Irish Times Women’s Podcast will be on site, and there’s an expansive list of nooks and crannies to discover, from the Wanderlust Stage to a Light House Cinema tent that will be screening films.
€169.50 for the weekend, €65 for Sunday; bodyandsoul.ie
8. Painting: Plein Air Paint-Out
Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co Mayo June 18th
Painting can be a solitary activity, so if you’re lonely with your easel why not join a group of like-minded artists for an outdoor self-directed painting session in Castlebar? Artists of all abilities are welcome to meet at the Linenhall Arts Centre coffee shop at 11am and head out to paint plein air en masse. Sketchers are welcome, too, and there are plans to arrange an exhibition of the results in the Linenhall foyer.
Free, apart from your own equipment; thelinenhall.com
9. Film: Purple Rain
Triskel Arts Centre, Cork June 19th - 22nd
If you still haven’t got over Prince’s death, then you could celebrate the man in all his genius glory at these six screenings of Purple Rain in Cork. A music film unparalleled in its brilliant oddness, the 1984 movie will play over four days, with two matinees.
10. Literary: Hay Festival
Kells, Co Meath June 23rd-26th
Writers hitting Kells this summer include Hanif Kureishi, Liz Nugent, Kevin Barry, Patrick McCabe and Lisa McInerney. Eamon Gilmore and John Bruton are there for politics nerds, Paul Kimmage for sports ones. Joe Duffy, Caitríona Crowe, Gene Kerrigan and others feature in events directing the 1916 centenary. Graphic and visual-effects artists, including Rhianna Pratchett (Tomb Raider) and Michael Carroll (Judge Dredd), will examine graphic novels and gaming as a new addition to the festival. Mary Black, The Lost Brothers, Colm Mac Con Iomaire and others provide the tunes.
Various prices; www.hayfestival.com/kells
11. Wrestling: Over the Top Wrestling
Dolans, Limerick, June 24th
A hilarious comedy wrestling event that had a decent stint at Dublin Fringe Festival, Over the Top Wrestling features such colourful characters as Session Mother Martina and Colt Cabana. Picture whooping and hollering, chair-smashing, and general ringside shenanigans.
13. Music/surfing: Sea Sessions
Bundoran, Co Donegal June 24th-26th
Music is a draw at Sea Sessions, with Gavin James, Primal Scream and Tinie Tempah headlining, but this festival is special because of its sports and surfing angles. With barefoot soccer, tag rugby and surfing sessions, it’s fun for participants and spectators alike. For the first time there’s also a comedy and football stage, with the second-round Euro 2016 matches being played, and the Après Match team hosting – free for wristband holders, €5 for people without festival wristbands.
From €47.50; seasessions.com
13. Outdoors: Gaelforce North
Glenveagh, Co Donegal June 25th
Co Donegal is the setting for two Gaelforce events in June: Gaelforce North and Gaelforce Sprint. The first course is 64km, with a 15.5km walk or run in the stunning Glenveagh Valley, a 2km kayak on Gartan Lake, a 24km cycle on tarmac roads through Glenveagh National Park, alongside the Derryveagh Mountains, a 4km walk or run at Mount Errigal, another 18.5km cycle on and off road to Inishcoole Beach, and a short run along the dunes to the finish line. The sprint is similar but with shorter distances. You probably won’t find a more beautiful setting for an adventure race this summer.
From €65; gaelforceevents.com
14. Music: Mother Pride Block Party
Tivoli, Francis Street, Dublin June 25th
Besides the Dublin LGBT Pride parade itself, this is the biggest party during Pride, with the much-loved queer electronic music night bursting out of its usual basement to host DJ sets from Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters), Little Boots, Panti and Kelly-Anne Byrne, as well as live sets from Wyvern Lingo, Faune and the usual excellent selection of Mother’s resident DJs.
15. Stage: Town Is Dead
Peacock Theatre, at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin Until July 9th
Phillip McMahon and Raymond Scannell’s new musical, starring Barbara Brennan, comes to the Peacock stage in June. We’re introduced to Ellen, who left a rundown flat in inner-city Dublin to move into her snooty sister’s box room in the suburbs. The writers behind the brilliant Alice in Funderland are sharp and smart, so this is much anticipated.
From €15, abbeytheatre.ie
16. Art: Victoria’s Way
Roundwood, Co Wicklow
All summer One of Ireland’s least-known and most unusual attractions is this sculpture park and meditation garden in Roundwood, Co Wicklow, dedicated to Alan Turing and filled with works that draw on Hinduism, futurism, sci-fi and nature. Walk through lawns with sculptures of trad-playing elephants, through a small forest, around a lake, and towards a giant statue of a middle finger. Must be seen to be believed.
Adults €5 (suggested). Not suitable for children
17. Games: Adventure rooms
Dublin 1 and 12 Anytime
Looking for a group activity with a difference? Adventure rooms will appeal to fans of puzzles and games, or anyone nostalgic about The Crystal Maze. Groups work as a team to solve puzzles and escape a room. Adventure Rooms is on Little Britain Street, in Dublin 1, but there’s also the XIT live room-escape adventure in Walkinstown, in Dublin 12. One for a rainy day with friends and family.
18. Film: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Cinemas countrywide July 1st
With a plot that involves accidentally killing Kate Moss and absconding to the south of France, you certainly can’t argue with the divilment value Edina and Patsy have cooked up. Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders are on board for one of the more fun television-to-film reboots in recent years.
Various prices, twitter.com/AbFabMovie
19. Music: Castlepalooza
Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Co Offaly July 1st-3rd
The little music festival that could up the ante this year with bigger names for lovers of eclecticism. Caribou, Cat Power, Jurassic 5 and Villagers will all descend on the castle. The festival maintains its strong home-grown flavour with sets from Daithí, Lisa O’Neill, Toby Kaar and New Jackson. With a dedicated fanbase, Castlepalooza has gone the distance and now excels.
€64.45 a day, or €134 for the weekend with camping; castlepalooza.com
20. Music: Dublin City Block Party
Tivoli Theatre, Francis Street, Dublin July 1st-3rd
A city block party in the colourfully graffitied environs of the Tivoli is always a good idea, but this line-up is something special, with performances from Kelis, Matthew Herbert, Jape, Greg Wilson, Erol Alkan, Nialler9 and Stevie G’s Vinyl Love and more. Lots of dancing, and over-18s only.
From €64.50, opening party and afterparty tickets sold separately; dublincityblockparty.net
21. Nature: Summer Workshops at Wells House & Gardens
Ballyedmond, Gorey, Co Wexford July 1st - August 19th
We’ve heard positive reports about this Victorian house and gardens. It runs workshops all summer for children, including a bug-detective workshop with bug experts where participants can paint their own “bug hotel”, a teddy-making workshop, and a birdhouse arts-and-crafts workshop – all in a setting that begs for exploration on 450 acres and vast woodland.
From €5, wellshouse.ie
22. Outdoors: Sligo Camino
Leitrim and Sligo July 2nd
For walkers looking for a challenge, the third Sligo Camino begins in Dromahair, Co Leitrim, for a 34km hike to Coolaney, in Co Sligo, along mountain paths, forest trails and country lanes, taking in Creevelea Abbey, the Lake Isle of Inishfree, and Lough Lumman.
€35 including bus transfer from Coolaney, drinks, fruit and dinner; sligocamino.ie
23. Pets: Strut Your Mutt
Killaloe, Co Clare July 2nd
This excellently named dog show is part of Féile Brian Boru, in Killaloe and Ballina. If you want to show off your dog – and, more importantly, win – register your mutt before June 30th and enter one of the fun categories, which include the sweetest puppy, most appealing eyes, waggiest tail, and dog the judge would most like to take home. There’s also a best-six-legs category, for a dog and its junior handler.
€3 per entry, feilebrianboru.com
24. Family: Groove
Kilruddery House, Co Wicklow July 2nd-3rd
A family-friendly festival for those who don’t want to spend a weekend camping in a field, Groove focuses on mainstream nostalgic rock: The Blades, Aslan, The 4 of Us, Ocean Colour Scene, Neville Staple and more. There’s also decent food at the Celtic Kitchen – keeping things old school with a fulachta fiadha. For kids there are a climbing wall, aqua sphering, and a separate children’s area with drama workshops, circus activities and more.
From €14.50 for children and €49.50 for adults; groovefestival.ie
25. Film: Galway Film Fleadh
Galway July 5th-10th
The programme for this year’s Film Fleadh isn’t announced until the third week of June, but it should throw up some excellent home-grown films before they’re anywhere else, as well plenty of international pictures. It’s also where business gets done, and where the Irish film industry congregates. For a local industry that has a lot to celebrate, the festival is becoming a more important fixture in a global context, although it has quietly been one for years. The buzz just gets bigger.
Various prices, galwayfilmfleadh.com
26. Music: Iveagh Gardens Concerts
Iveagh Gardens, Dublin 2 July 8th-23rd
This beautiful park in the middle of Dublin hosts some good shows this summer, especially for indie fans. The series starts with Bell X1; John Grant, Wilco, Pixies, Elvis Costello, Richard Hawley and Little Green Cars also play. There are some decent support acts in the mix as well, including Bleeding Heart Pigeons and Damien Dempsey.
Various prices, ticketmaster.ie
27. Arts: City Spectacular
Dublin and Cork July 8th-10th, July 16th-17th
The international street-performance festival, sponsored by Laya Healthcare, is a great family festival in Dublin (Merrion Square) and Cork (Fitzgerald Park). There are contortionists, circus performers, jugglers, illusionists, painters, magicians, beat boxers, acrobats, robots, mad scientists and other things to make you ooh and aah, along with writing and art workshops. Best of all, it’s free.
28. Arts: Earagail Arts Festival
Co Donegal July 8th-24th
Always a treat, Earagail Arts Festival this year features highlights such as Scorch, Stacey Gregg’s winner of the best-new-play prize at this year’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, at An Grianán Theatre, an adaptation of Wuthering Heights at Rathmullen House, one of Ireland’s finest folk bands, Lynched, in Letterkenny’s Regional Cultural Centre and much more across north Co Donegal.
Various prices, eaf.ie
29. Music: Beyoncé
Croke Park, Dublin July 9th
Fresh from releasing the critically and fan-acclaimed Lemonade visual album, the biggest pop star on the planet plays her largest Irish show to date, bringing the Formation tour to the Dublin stadium. Few stars at this level manage to be as ubiquitous as they are praised. Beyoncé shows are lessons in production, performance, and pop-culture prowess. She is the queen.
From €49.50, ticketmaster.ie
30. Food: Learn to live like a Viking
Drogheda Port, Co Louth 9th-10th July
Beware, the Vikings are invading Drogheda! They are taking up residence at Drogheda Port for the Irish Maritime Festival. Step into their Viking Village and learn what they ate, wore and what tools they used. Watch as they go into battle each day. The festival features loads of on-the-water action plus an artisan food and craft beer zone, a fashion health and beauty zone and loads of family friendly activities for the kids. Kick back and enjoy the performances on their two live music stages, including Áine Cahill who took Glastonbury by storm this year.
€10.00 Family Pass (2 Adults/2Children), €5 Adults, €4 Teens, students and seniors. maritimefestival.ie
31. Outdoors: Mini Mudder
Loughcrew Adventure Centre, Oldcastle, Co Meath July 9th-10th
Tough Mudder – the brutal but fun obstacle-course race – has gone from a cult following to mainstream, and now kids can get in on the action. Mini Mudders are obstacle courses for children between seven and 12. The mile-long course features running, climbing, wading, crawling and swinging through the various obstacles. So if your kids are looking for an outdoor activity with a bit of a physical edge, check it out.
32. Arts: Galway International Arts Festival
Galway July 11th-24th
Suede in the Big Top, Druid’s Waiting for Godot, a world premiere of Enda Walsh’s Kitchen installation, showcases from the indie labels Popical Island and Citóg Records, an exploration of Tayto’s brand identity, Dan Deacon . . . There should be something for most people at GIAF, not forgetting the late-night chats in the festival club’s waterside setting.
Various prices, giaf.ie
33. Anniversary: Transatlantic Cable Festival
Valentia Island, Kerry July 13th-17th
A festival celebrating a telegraph cable might seem a little strange, but 150 years since the first successful transatlantic cable was laid between Valentia Ireland and Heart’s Content, in Newfoundland, is something to mark, at least. Events include walks of light and fireworks displays, historical lectures and talks, a barbecue and funfair, and music in local pubs.
34. Music: Longitude
Marlay Park, Dublin July 15th-17th
Is there a festival line-up anywhere in the world this summer so expertly assembled? Other than Latitude, its sister festival in Britain, we suspect not. Longitude nails the zeitgeist with brilliant bookings. The weekend excels at quality hip hop (Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels, Tyler the Creator, Action Bronson), big indie rock (The National, Father John Misty, Courtney Barnett), smart and fun pop (Major Lazer, MO, Chvrches, Christine and the Queens), discerning electronic music (Jamie xx, Annie Mac, Róisín Murphy, The 2 Bears) and local heroes (Rejjie Snow, All Tvvins, The Coronas).
€64.50 per day, or €159.50 for the weekend; longitude.ie
35. Literary: West Cork Literary Festival
Bantry, Co Cork July 17th-23rd
Readings, workshops, exhibitions and talks will bring the crowds to Bantry this summer, with some serious heavy hitters in this line-up. There are evenings with John Banville, Kevin Barry and Michael Harding, and a talk from the renowned feminist Gloria Steinem. Zadie Smith will be in town, as will Louis de Bernières and Marina Warner. It’s not just for fans: there are practical bits for writers, too, from the business of self-publishing to creative-writing workshops.
Various prices (some events free), westcorkmusic.ie/literaryfestival
36. Summer school: The Road to Marriage Equality Summer School
Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, Killiney, Co Dublin July 18th-20th
Campaigners, social-justice buffs and anyone with an interest in learning from the world-class marriage-equality campaign that saw Ireland become the first country in the world to pass equal marriage by a popular vote should be interested in this summer school. The three-day residential programme will feature talks, workshops, panel discussions and more from leaders of Irish and US marriage-equality campaigns, covering everything from mobilisation and strategy to social-media engagement.
37. Film: The BFG
Cinemas countrywide July 22nd
Steven Spielberg directs and coproduces this Roald Dahl classic, and if the trailer is anything to go by it’s going to look beautiful. Melissa Mathison, who died last November, wrote the screenplay (as she did ET’s), so the production is already tinged with a sadness. With the 1989 animated version now a distant memory, here’s hoping Spielberg works his magic.
Various prices, twitter.com/BFGMovie
38. Outdoors: Donadea Forest duathlons
Donadea, Co Kildare July 23rd and August 20th
If you fancy a not-too-taxing combined cycle and run this summer, check out the Donadea Forest duathlons, which feature a 3km run, 21.5km cycle and another 2.75km run. Donadea Forest Park is a beautiful setting for a jog, with Donadea castle, its old church, and picturesque lake. The cycle takes place along quiet country roads through Timahoe and Staplestown. It’s an event that both experienced and not so experienced entrants can take on.
39. Family: Durrow Scarecrow Festival
Durrow, Co Laois July 24th-August 1st
Driving through Durrow during its scarecrow festival is equal parts surreal, creepy and hilarious. Apart from the endless array of scarecrow types – scarecrow families, giant scarecrows, scarecrows in every possible dress-up form imaginable – there are lots of children’s activities, craft workshops, live music, an arts-and-crafts exhibition, a teddy bear’s picnic and, of course, the fiercely competitive All Ireland Scarecrow Championship.
40. Stage: Billy Elliot: The Musical
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin July 26th- September 3rd
A north-of-England boy achieves his dream, against unpromising odds in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, of becoming a dancer. This production, directed by Stephen Daldry, with music by Elton John, comes with great singing, great dancing, some foul language, and a hard-hitting social message. The stage musical is possibly even better than the movie.
41. Film: Gaze
Light House Cinema, Smithfield, Dublin 7 July 28th-August 1st
The International LGBT Film Festival in Dublin is one of the key events in the Irish LGBT cultural calendar, and for good reason. World-class queer films are screened in an eclectic programme that always has as much room for the avant garde as it does for the mainstream. The festival celebrates its 25th birthday this year.
From €10, with packages available; gaze.ie
42. Music: Beatyard
Dún Laoghaire Harbour, Co Dublin July 30th-31st
The Bodytonic crew delivers a suburban festival by the sea with music, games, talks, food and more. Boney M, George Clinton, Rubberbandits, Roy Ayers and Lee Scratch Perry are among the musicians playing, there’s food from the Dublin Doughnut Company, Box Burger, Bread & Bones and more, decent coffee thanks to 3fe, a flea market, a whiskey bar, Imaginosity kids area, Jim Carroll’s Banteryard, music bingo, bowling, and a singalong to Pet Sounds, by The Beach Boys.
€49 per day, €79 for the weekend, €5 for under 12s, the-beatyard.com
43. Arts: Kilkenny Arts Festival
Kilkenny August 5th-14th
This year there’s a big focus on Mozart, with the Irish Chamber Orchestra playing in St Canice’s Cathedral, piano sonatas at St John’s Priory, and string quartets at the Black Abbey. More details of the programme will be announced this month.
Various prices, kilkennyarts.ie
44. Sport: Rio 2016 Olympics
Your television August 5th-21st
Prepare to immerse yourself in more than two weeks of solid couch-based televisual athleticism thanks to RTÉ, the BBC and whoever else you choose to get your coverage from. If you can ignore the doping scandals that have gripped so many sports since the London Games wrapped, and forget that Danny Boyle won’t be directing the opening ceremony, then you’ll have a good games.
The cost of a TV licence and a telly; rio2016.com
45. Comics: Dublin Comic Con
Convention Centre Dublin August 6th-7th
A paradise for comic and superhero fangirls and fanboys, with costume displays, interactive sets, guest panels, exhibitor stalls with loads of stuff to buy and covet – from comics to action figures – artists showcasing their work, costume contests, a “post-apocalyptic playground” and a gaming area. The atmosphere is always great, and there are plenty of things to nerd out on and satisfy your inner geek.
Tickets from €8; dublincomiccon.com
46. Food: The Big Grill
Herbert Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin August 11th-14th
Attention lovers of smoked meats, admirers of pit masters and quaffers of craft beer: this one is for you. Enjoy the scent of hunks of meat wafting through the air, discuss the merits of rubs and which wood smoulders best, learn bushcraft tricks, talk hops and hot sauce, test your competitive-eating strength, scoff at vegetarians, learn barbecue tricks and go home full and informed.
Prices TBA, biggrillfestival.com
47. Music: Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann
Ennis, Co Clare August 14th-22nd
With 400,000 people expected in Ennis over the course of the fleadh, this is a mammoth celebration of traditional music, from the mentor to the novice. Scoil Éigse is the official summer school, with cultural and musical workshops of all kinds. The Fleadh hasn’t been in Ennis since 1977, so expect this proud town to do its utmost to make it one of the best yet.
Various prices; some events free; fleadhcheoil.ie
48. Sport: Ulster Rally
Derry and Strabane August 19th-20th
The MSA British Rally and TROA Irish Tarmac Rally championships will see races along the Derry and Strabane routes this August. For car and racing nuts in the northwest it’s a good opportunity to get close to the action and enjoy the buzz of the gathering in the area.
49. Art: Brick Flicks Stop-Motion Workshops
Roscommon Arts Centre August 23rd -24th
If you’ve ever fancied yourself as the star director of a future YouTube viral stop-motion animation, grab your Lego mini figures and check out this stop-motion workshop camp. Participants will collaborate on set building, scripting their own story, and filming. Beginners and advanced stop-motion filmmakers aged eight years and over are welcome.
50. Music: Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival
Dunmore East, Co Waterford August 25th-26th
There are plenty of free gigs at this bluegrass, country, roots, and rockabilly festival in Waterford, in town for its 22nd year. Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley play a gig for €20, but you don’t have to spend money on tickets to have a good time, with plenty of sessions and late-night fun.
Various prices; some events free; discoverdunmore.com
We believe these details to be correct, but as times and locations may change, please check with a venue or event before making a journey