The 25 festivals and music events of the summer

It’s summertime, which means it’s time to hit the fields, parks, GAA stadiums and forests for a blast of live music. Here’s our guide to the 25 festivals and music events you have to see this year


Between now and September, a weekend will not pass without a festival or big music show of some stripe or other to tempt you with its wares. The big ones, the small ones, the artsy ones, the hipster ones, the community ones and the ones with the cowboys: the choice is yours. Here are the 25 events and festivals we’re giving the thumbs-up to this summer. (Click here to read Jim carroll's intro to the summer)

Public enemy
Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, May 31st-June 1st

A city festival that combines longstanding acts (Flaming Lips, Public Enemy (above), 2 Many DJs), evergreen Irish favourites (Bell X1), indie scene stars (Warpaint) and the interesting names of the moment (Little Dragon, Thundercat, Klangkarussell). “Comedy, fine food and festival fun” are the advertised extras.

Ensemble Eriu
Meeting House Square, Dublin, May 31st-June 1st

Now in its third year, it takes its title from the colourful anti-jazz movement of the 1930s, which held sway in certain parts of rural Ireland, and has a bit of crack with it. A fine gathering of Irish jazz and blues performers, acts not to miss this year include DFF (composer Dave Flynn’s anything-goes collective) and the outrageously talented Ensemble Ériu (above).

Lana del ray
Cork, June 29th-July 15th

Cork’s long-running pop-up summer venue returns with another run of acts capable of enticing a crowd to the 5,000-capacity big top, including Pixies (June 30th), The Prodigy (July 2nd), Brian Wilson (July 4th) and Lana Del Rey, above (July 15th).

John GRant
Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath, June 20th-22nd.

One of the real stars of the Irish festival scene in recent times, Body & Soul has got things right, with both acts and ambience. Performers to pull the cognoscenti to the midlands next month include John Grant (above), Caribou, Jon Hopkins, Of Montreal, Mount Kimbie and Jessy Lanza.

Live at the Marquee, Cork (June 24th); Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin (June 25th)

You know that after these shows YouTube will be cluttered with shaky videos of the band doing A Day Like This. Aside from the classics, you can expect Guy Garvey and his seasoned mob to feature tunes from current album, The Take Off and Landing Of Everything.


Bundoran, Co Donegal, June 27th-29th

Sea, surf and sounds are the Donegal festival’s big calling-cards, and they’ve gained the trust of a sizeable community of music fans over the past few years. We’d happily surf to the northwest to see Kelis (above), Lonnie Liston Smith, Ella Eyre, Flight Facilities, Drenge and Erol Alkan. You can also check out what The Strypes are like two years after their breakthrough.

Kool and the gang
Westport House, Co Mayo, June 28th & 29th

As you’d expect from a festival with both music and food in the title, as many chefs as drummers feature on the line-up. On the music side: David Gray, Kool & The Gang, Bryan Adams, Little Green Cars, Tinariwen, Bell X1, Daithi, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and the Kilfenora Céilí Band. And in food: Darina Allen, Ross Lewis, Neven Maguire, Rachel Allen and Clodagh McKenna.

Arcade Fire
Marlay Park, Dublin, June 29th

They’ll be plugging last year’s ambitious Reflektor album, but those still going on about seeing them at Electric Picnic in 2005 can relax, as the more seasoned classics should also surely feature.

The National
Live at the Marquee, Cork (July 14th); Big Top, Galway (15th); Iveagh Gardens, Dublin (18th & 19th)

Another band who enjoy a strong affinity with Irish audiences, The National’s four Irish summer shows are proof that the long game works. It might have taken them five albums to become overnight sensations, but they’ve resolutely stuck to their guns rather than going for the quick fix.

Paloma Faith
Kilruddery, Co Wicklow, July 5th & 6th

Having arrived on the scene last year, Groove showed that there’s always room for another event, especially one just on the outskirts of the capital. Acts this time around include David Gray, Paloma Faith (above), James, Cathy Davey, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott and Big September.

Arctic Monkeys
Marlay Park, Dublin, July 12th

Last year’s AM album showed that no one comes close to the Arctic Monkeys in delivering sleek, tough, audience-friendly arena rock. It helps, too, that Alex Turner appears to have borrowed a lot of his onstage tics and mannerisms from fellow Sheffield man Richard Hawley. The only rock band you need to see this summer.

Kanye West
Marlay Park, Dublin, July 2nd

You probably didn’t get an invite to the wedding either but you are invited to (buy a ticket for) Marlay Park. It’s Ye’s biggest show to date in Ireland, but he has stellar company in Pharrell “Happy” Williams to help shift tickets. Support from ORB.

Cathy davey
Paulstown, Co Kilkenny, July 4th & 5th

It’s always good to see some new arrivals on the scene so hello Light Colour Sound. A huge line-up of acts are set to play, including Cathy Davey (above), Scroobius Pip vs Dan Le Sac, Wallis Bird, Jape, Clive Barnes, Jerry Fish, Come On Live Long, O Emperor, The Raglans and more. Bonus feature: a full-on funfair.


Marlay Park, Dublin, July 18th-20th

Last year, the sun shone for Longitude’s debut and all raved about what was the line-up of the summer. Things are a little more muted this time around, although we’re looking forward to Massive Attack, Disclosure, Haim (above), Rudimental and James Vincent McMorrow.

Garth Brooks
Croke Park, Dublin, July 25-29

As we’ll see with today’s election results, 400,000 people can be wrong, but rather you than me when it comes to arguing with these country music fans. It’s a mind-boggling piece of business and, yes, we’re concentrating on the business so we don’t have to write about the music. Or the hats.

The eskies

Blessington, Co Wicklow, July 25th & 26th

One of the best little festivals in the land, Knockanstockan makes great use of a fantastic festival site overlooking the lakes and a really strong community vibe. Acts confirmed for 2014’s outing include Booka Brass Band, The Eskies (above), I Draw Slow, The Hot Sprockets and Tandem Felix.

farewell Jr

Macroom, Co Cork, July 25th

Billed as a “a little festival in the countryside”, the Mountain Dew festival draws a crowd of curious music-seekers to the O’Herlihy family’s back gardenin Cork. Acts on the bill for this year’s event include the excellent Talos, Slow Skies, Farewell JR (above), Conor Walsh, Oliver Cole and many more. 

Gruff Rhys

Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Co Offaly, August 1st-3rd

One of the country’s finest small festivals in the land continues to draw a crowd of happy punters because of great attention to detail. from tip to toe. This year’s music-makers include Gruff Rhys (above), We Cut Corners, Summer Camp, We Were Evergreen, Dan Croll and some sterling DJs in the form of Gilles Peterson, Andy Weatherall and Norman Jay.


Mitchelstown, Cork, August 1st-3rd

The Firmly established, this one Indiependence pulls ’em in with a strong booking policy of prime local and international names. Fans of White Lies, Tom Odell, Hozier (above), Delorentos, Dan Croll, The Minutes, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Damien Dempsey will want to check this one out..

Sligo, August 10th-17th

After last year’s triumphant visit to Derry, the biggest traditional music festival in the world heads to Sligo for a week of concerts, sessions and workshopsand general good times. Expect trad masters, apprentices and and general good timesleft, right and centre.

Queens of the Stone Age

Custom House Square, Belfast, August 15th-22nd
Belsonic has long been the smart choice for those looking for a cool city fest with a decent line-up. Highlights this year should include Example (August 15th), Queens of the Stone Age (20th) and Imagine Dragons (22th).


Boucher Playing Fields, Belfast, August 21st-24th

Bookended with The Killers and Bastille (above) on August 21st and David Guetta with Steve Angello confirmed for August on the 24th, Vital is setting out its stall with verve for this city festival. Those who fancymight enjoysome of the sponsor’s products in a camping environment may not be thrilled, but those who like to get a night’s kip in their own bed will give Vital the thumbs up.

Hot Sprockets

Tubby’s Farm, Hillsborough, August 22nd-25th

A festival growing in reputation withevery passing year, Sunflowerfest comes to the table with a lotis about more than just music. Those looking for fFamily-friendly attractions include storytelling, poetry and art, dance and music workshopsshould walk this way. Forhe music fans, the line-up includes The Barley Mob, Chelsea Chambers, King Kong Company, The Hot Sprockets (above) and Scorpion Jack.


Stradbally, Co Laois, August 29th-31st

The big daddy of them all. The Picnic turns 10 this year – as in, it’s 10 years since the first one as opposed to last year’s fake 10th birthday – and is set for this next decade with Festival Republic firmly in charge of things. You know what’s involved at this stage so let’s hope for season-defining sets from Portishead, OutKast (above), Beck, Pet Shop Boys, Kelis, St Vincent and the hundreds of others heading for Stradbally.

Dunderry, Co Meath, September 19th-21st
The festival took last year off, but returns for 2014 with a two-day wham-bam of music and other activities. Acts yet to be announced, but you can expect such side attractions as storytelling, battle re-enactments, tours to local historic sites, holistic therapies and child-friendly entertainment.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection


Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.