Cultural dates for your 2017 diary
New year promises a richness of fare across all artistic forms in all part of the country
Bosco meets Erik Sprague aka The Lizardman in Dublin’s Smithfield for the 2016 Laya City Spectacular. This year’s event takes place from July 7th-9th (Dublin), 15th-16th (Cork). Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Out to Lunch
Take a trip to Belfast for a mind-expanding programme that includes music from James Vincent McMorrow, a live performance of Seamus Heaney’s Death of a Naturalist, brunch with the BBC film critic Mark “Hello to Jason Isaacs” Kermode and much more; cqaf.com.
Music for Galway Midwinter
This year’s theme is musical prodigies through the ages, from Mozart, Mendelssohn and Korngold to the acclaimed 11-year-old English violinist and composer Alma Deutscher; musicforgalway.ie.
Temple Bar Tradfest
At the darkest time of the year, Dublin city centre lights up with musical energy. Highlights for 2017 include Billy Bragg, Four Men And A Dog, Fairport Convention, Iarla Ó Lionáird and Steve Cooney, Four Men And A Dog, Altan, Afro-Celt Sound System, and many, many more.
various dates, January to May
Lecture series at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre: Chris Hadfield, Mia Farrow Alexandra Cousteau and John Cleese offer “stories of a lifetime”
Dublin Chinese New Year Festival
January 28th-February 12th
Celebrate the Year of the Fire Rooster with a colourful cultural celebration which, alongside food, features family days out, workshops, concerts, exhibitions – and dragons.
Imbolc International Music Festival
January 29th-February 5th
Contemporary Irish music in the company of Sharon Shannon, Declan O’Rourke, John Sheahan, Michelle Burke and Dervish at Derry’s Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin arts centre.
Cork International Poetry Festival
Book launches, competitions, literary film screenings and a whole host of poets, including Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Jo Shapcott, Katie Donovan, Bernard O’Donoghue and Theo Dorgan.
Dublin International Film Festival
February 16th- 26th
The first sneak preview has been announced, and it’s a gem: Jack Reynor and Cillian Murphy will join director Ben Wheatley for a gala screening of his gun-toting 1970s crime caper Free Fire. A 10-day feast of film.
Spike Cello Festival
Brand-new three-day programme of cello-related events taking place in Dublin. It’s all very hush-hush as yet, but promises to take an intriguingly unorthodox look at this ever-inventive instrument.
Okay, we’ve used up all the Father Ted quotes in previous years. But this cult festival is still going strong on Craggy Island – sorry, Inis Mór. Ah, go on, go on . . .
New Music Dublin
Composers Thomas Ades and Gerald Barry are at the helm of this festival of contemporary music, a co-production by RTÉ, the Arts Council and the National Concert Hall. World premieres, Irish premieres, master classes and informal concerts from the festival club.
Ennis Book Club Festival
March 3rd- 5th
This year’s visiting authors include Lisa McInerney, Rose Tremain, Paul Durcan and John Boyne; and for the first time, there’ll also be a session for eight- to 12-year-old readers.
St Patrick’s Festival
Our national saint’s day will be celebrated, as usual, with greenery, tomfoolery and gusto. The Dublin programme includes a ceilí, a treasure hunt, a Big Day Out and lots more, including trad supergroup Usher’s Island – Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, Mike McGoldrick and John Doyle – live at Vicar Street.
Mountains to the Sea
Workshops, readings, authors in conversation and the characterful surroundings of Dublin’s southern coastal villages. The 2017 programme will include novelists Mohsin Hamid and Joanna Trollope, poets Michael Longley and Nick Laird, and a host of others.
March 31st-April 2nd
Frankie Gavin and De Danann headline this year as the annual west Cork feast of music and dance celebrates its 10th birthday.
One City, One Book
This year’s book choice is Echoland, the first in a trilogy by Joe Joyce, set in June 1940, with France teetering on the brink of collapse, British troops desperately fleeing Dunkirk and Germany winning the war.
This eclectic festival features all kinds of music created in the capital, from pop to electronica, classical to psychedelic and everything in between.
Galway Theatre Festival
With plays being staged at An Taibhdhearc, Druid Lane, the Town Hall and Nun’s Island, it’s a dramatic week in the city of tribes.
All aspects of live performance come into focus with double bills at Project Arts Centre, daring and innovative stagings around Dublin, discussion salons, and the Bite Size Scratch strand, where audiences engage with artists to help ideas grow and expand.
Barrow River Arts Festival
A thoroughly cosmopolitan weekend at Borris House, with Mediterranean songs from Savinna Yannatou, flamenco from Sonja Sanchez, the world premiere of a new piece by guitarist/composer Ben Dwyer, and Barry McGovern reading Beckett.
An eclectic and exciting range of writers assemble in Galway for poetry and prose readings, discussions, debates, launches and all things literary.
Cork International Choral Festival
Choirs from all over the world get together for a programme of concerts and competitions.
Féile na Bealtaine
April 27th-May 1st
Among those on the bill for this bilingual festival on the Dingle Peninsula are the novelist Sebastian Barry and the children’s author Shane Hegarty.
April 28th-May 1st
Small but perfectly-formed live festival which, in recent years, has attracted such top-notch acts as Calexico, Ryan Adams and Rodney Crowell.
Annual celebration of creativity with events around the country in arts centres, theatres, libraries, galleries, local halls, care settings - even out in the open air.
International film and television festival for young people with the best in new world cinema, workshops, masterclasses and film juries, which offer participants the chance to try their hand at movie reviewing.
Dublin Dance Festival
Highlights from the 2017 programme include the Austrian-Irish Deep Dish, which dives – literally – into a table set for a lavish feast, Emmanuel Gat/Awir Leon’s joyous riff on Marvin Gaye’s song Sunny, and Syrian dancer and choreographer Mithkal Alzghair’s study of war and migration, Displacement.
Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine
Bloggers and foragers, chefs and wine experts – in short, food lovers of every shape and hue – descend on Ballymaloe House and cookery school to share ideas on all things ingestible.
International Literature Festival Dublin
New faces and household names, children’s fiction and Irish-language writers: in other words, a stellar gathering guaranteed to inspire, provoke and enthral.
Harry Potter Live
The first film of the wizarding series on a 40ft screen at the 3 Arena, plus John Williams’s dazzling score brought to 3-D life by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.
Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival
The picturesque west Cork village of Schull turns into one big screen for this lively week of short film screenings from all over the world.
It’s already being billed as the gig of the year: Guns N’ Roses are all together again, and Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan are said to be happy campers, playing up a storm and enjoying each other’s company.
Listowel Writers’ Week
May 31st-June 4th
Workshops, creative writing competitions and conversations in north Kerry with an array of visiting writers , among them a debut author by the name of Graham Norton. “An amazing festival organised by amazing people,” said Donal Ryan. We agree.
Catch the ferry to beautiful Inishbofin and catch a stellar assembly of artists, writers and musicians for a weekend of island delights, Connemara-style.
Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival
The life and music of the great guitarist is celebrated in his birthplace of Ballyshannon, Co Donegal.The 2017 programme includes Band of Friends, Johnny Gallagher and the Boxtie Band, Laundromat and many, many more.
Sky Cat Laughs
The very best in Irish and international comedy acts come to Kilkenny, attracting 30,000 visitors in the process. Which would make anybody smile, really.
Music, spoken words, art, fashion, food and plenty of good vibes in the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art at Kilmainham.
Live at the Marquee
various dates, June 7th-July 13th
Cork goes under canvas for the annual series of concerts at the Showgrounds, which kicks off on June 9th with Picture This and continues with Elton John, Cliff Richard, The Coronas, Nathan Carter, Elbow and Gavin James.
Bulmers Live at Leopardstown
Thursdays, June 8 th-August 17th
Music at the south Dublin racetrack on balmy summer evenings. Over the years, Irish music lovers have experienced The Happy Mondays, The Charlatans, The Human League and The Boomtown Rats – and the racing has been pretty thrilling as well.
Howth Midsummer Literary Festival
Third year of the literary gathering in the Lutyens library brings a selection of Irish and international authors to Howth Castle.
Great Music in Irish Houses
A beautiful building, gorgeous music, the sun going down in the west: it’s a pretty civilised way to spend one or more of those long summer evenings, folks. Venues for next year will include Kilruddery, Co Wicklow, the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, and the Casino at Marino.
Borris House Festival of Writing and Ideas
They’ve had Chrissie Hynde and Lionel Shriver, they’ve had Ben Okri and Kevin Barry, they’ve had Fintan O’Toole and Olivia O’Leary – thought-provoking writers and thinkers from all over the world getting together for discussion and debate at the foot of the Blackstairs Mountains.
Experience the world simply by getting yourself to Lismore, Co Waterford, for a globetrotting celebration of travel writing.
Start the day with an offal-y good breakfast – and follow Joyce’s anti-hero, Leopold Bloom, with a series of readings, performances and re-enactments around Dublin and beyond.
A multidisciplinary arts festival that uses the city as its backdrop and inspiration, offering a snapshot of Cork’s vibrant arts scene, with an emphasis on emerging artists and unusual perspectives.
Hinterland Festival Kells
It began as an offshoot of the Hay Festival from Wales, but is striking out on its own this year.
Body and Soul
June 23rd- 25th
Rocking the summer solstice in the grounds of Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath. Music, yoga, a masked ball, an art trail: this is the festival that appeals to everyone, from families with young kids to late-night revellers and all points in between.
The combination of music, camping and surfing makes this festival unique. Headlining at Bundoran, Co Donegal, next year: Primal Scream.
West Cork Chamber Music Festival
June 30th-July 8th
Concerts, recitals, master classes, violin- and bow-making and a composition competition
Earagail Arts Festival
A bilingual programme of music, visual arts, circus and theatre on the wild and unspoiled northwestern seaboard of Co Donegal.
Laya City Spectacular
July 7th-9th (Dublin), 15th-16th (Cork)
Sword-swallowing, anyone? Or juggling? Hi-tech, high-spec dancing in Dublin’s Merrion Square and Cork’s Fitzgerald Park,- plus street food from around the world, interactive family workshops and a pet wellness area.
BARE in the Woods
One of Ireland’s fastest-growing boutique festivals goes from one day to three. An eclectic mix of Irish and international acts, from electronic to reggae, indie to folk. Previous headliners at Garryhinch Woods, Portarlington, Co Laois, have included UK hip-hop dynamo Roots Manuva and NY hip-hop legends The Sugarhill Gang.
West Cork Literary Festival
A lively selection of visiting writers bring readings, discussions and week-long writing workshops to beautiful Bantry Bay.
Galway Arts Festival
Highlights of the 2017 programme include an exhibition by the Brazilian artist Ana Maria Pacheco Dark Night of the Soul; a new festival commission by the Irish artist John Gerrard (co-commissioned with the Thomas Dane Gallery in London); two world premiere theatre productions; the discussion platform First Thought; a spectacular European street theatre programme, and a series of live gigs in the Absolut Big Top.
Mexican Day of the Dead meets Mardi Gras in this family-friendly summer weekender which builds a bespoke village in the woods and gardens of Rusheen Farm near Macroom, Co Cork
Sligo Jazz Festival
Part festival, part summer school, this gathering of jazz enthusiasts is packed with workshops and master classes.
July 31st-August 6th
If heart-stopping finishes and breathtaking fashion are what you’re after, you’ll find them by the bucketload as Ballybrit gets into top gear for the Galway Races.
Set in the foothills of the Galtee Mountains, Indie has steadily grown in size since 2006, now attracting 10,000 festivalgoers to Deer Farm, Mitchelstown. Previous headliners have included 2ManyDJs, De La Soul, Public Enemy, Kodaline, Bastille, Hozier, Super Furry Animals and Basement Jaxx.
Alongside the annual Spraoi parade, a programme of newly-commissioned street art work brings Waterford’s historic city centre to joyous life.
Dublin Horse Show
One of the summer’s biggest bashes brings craft, fashion, live music, gourmet food – oh, and a horse or two – to the RDS in Ballsbridge
Feakle Music Festival
Feakle in Co Clare is a traditional centre of musical excellence, and this little festival punches way above its weight in the trad artistry stakes.
Busking, dancing, singing, storytelling, free concerts, workshops, a craft fair and major merriment in the sumptuous setting of Killorglin, Co Kerry – and the crowning of a goat to boot. What’s not to love?
Kilkenny Arts Festival
Following its sold-out Mozart season last year the 44th Kilkenny Arts Festival will present a celebration of the music of Schubert, from the song cycles to his glorious chamber and orchestral music. The Marble City Sessions also return with a fresh line-up of global legends in groundbreaking collaborations. Plus site-specific stagings, exhibitions, family events and other artistic adventures in Ireland’s medieval city.
Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann
The annual outpouring of traditional virtuosity brings performers from all over the country to Ennis, Co Clare.
Small but perfectly formed festival in the grounds of Kilruddery House, Bray, Co Wicklow.
National Heritage Week
Last year, more than 450,000 people participated in over 1,900 events around the country, three-quarters of them hosted by voluntary groups. Next year’s theme is natural heritage.
Masters of Tradition
The finest traditional musicians head to west Cork to perform for five evenings in St Brendan’s Church and Bantry House.
Brand-new festival brings Miranda Lambert, Nathan Carter and the dreamy duo The Shires – think Gunnar and Scarlett from the TV series Nashville, except they’re English – to Westport House, Co Mayo, and Enniskillen Airport, Co Fermanagh, for a weekend of country music.
Comedy, food, body pampering, a pop-up eco-village, theatre in the forest – oh, and there’s some great music too at Ireland’s biggest picnic, Stradbally, Co Laois.
Harvest Time Blues
Monaghan’s annual serving of laidback sounds at the Market House and the marquee.
Dublin Tiger Fringe
World premieres, sellout runs and standing ovations were the order of the day for 2016, as 73 shows, from the surprising through the site-specific to the downright strange, took over 23 locations in the heart of Dublin. Next year will be no different - and yet totally different.
Clifden Arts Week
This community arts week provides locals and visitors alike with a wide range of readings, recitals, theatre and comedy – and all in the spectacular surroundings of Connemara.
National Ploughing Championships
It’s ploughing, but not just ploughing: you’ll also find sheepdog trials, craft villages, food fairs and exhibitions, as the 86th championships returns to the popular venue of Screggan, Tullamore, Co Offaly.
Clonakilty Guitar Festival
The long-established music venue De Barra’s pub pays tribute to all things string with an eclectic line-up of visiting guitar virtuosi. The idea is to bring people into the west Cork town as the tourist season begins to wind down, so many of the gigs are free.
New Ross Piano Festival
Keyboard wizardry brings lovers of the piano from far and wide to New Ross for this intimate festival in Ireland’s ancient east.
All kinds of cultural venues open their doors late for this family-friendly night out. Last year saw more than 3,000 free events in 40-plus locations around Ireland.
Westport Arts Festival
September 27th-October 1st
Ten days of strikingly diverse gigs run by volunteers for the enjoyment of the local community as well as visitors. Headliners last year were The Undertones, Deirdre O’Kane and Edna O’Brien.
September 27th-October 8th
Belfast’s bespoke comedy festival offers a unique blend of local and international acts.
Dublin Theatre Festival
September 28th-October 15th
The festival celebrates its 60th birthday with 18 days of theatre old and new, ambitious and intimate, cutting-edge and classic.
Adults must be accompanied by a child at this feast of music, dance, theatre, literature, film, puppetry, storytelling and visual arts in venues across Galway city.
Dublin Greek Film Festival
The third annual Dublin Greek Film Festival will showcase the latest award-winning features, documentaries and short films by Greek filmmakers as well as a range of special events introducing Greek culture to Irish audiences.
Where can you find monsters, printmakers, Indian dance and scary fairy stories all nestling together? At Waterford’s annual festival of history and heritage. Also incorporates the John Dwyer trad weekend, from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd.
Wexford Festival Opera
October 19th-November 5th
There’ll be stories of three strong women on the main opera stage at the 66th Wexford festival: Jacopo Foroni’s Margherita is a tale of star-crossed lovers told against a backdrop of war, Luigi Cherubini’s Medea is a comedy based on the murderous Greek sorceress, and Franco Alfano’s Risurrezione, a retelling of Leo Tolstoy’s final novel Resurrection, focuses on injustice and suffering in Siberia.
Traditional music from Sligo is noted for its “lift” – and that’s just what this festival aims to give everyone, through its lively programme of folk, roots and indie gigs.
Bram Stoker Festival
Four days of living stories, four nights of deadly adventures – let your gothic side emerge at Dublin’s weekend devoted to the life and legacy of the author of the masterpiece that is Dracula.
Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival
October 13th-November 5th
This is where the whole Hallowe’en thing started, and a whole season of spooky stuff now erupts annually across the Boyne valley, from a festival of fire to ghost walks, children’s theatre and the chance to pick your own pumpkin.
Cork Guinness Jazz Festival
Some 90 venues and a plethora of acts from the jazz world and beyond at Ireland’s longest-established jazz festival.
Dublin Book Festival
Showcase for Irish publishing which brings authors and readers together in the heart of the city.
Subtitle European Film Festival
Popular European films in a range of languages – nearly half of them Irish premieres – come to Kilkenny, trailing a cosmopolitan lineup of directors and stars.
Sneem International Storytelling and Folklore Festival
Everyone loves a good story, and as storytellers from eight to 80 gather in the gorgeous Kerry village, this is the place to find them. With workshops, a storytelling walk in the countryside, lunchtime theatre and “story swap” sessions.
Not so much a festival as a balm for the soul, the annual gathering has been attracting music-lovers to Dingle and the Iveragh peninsula since 2002.
The annual new year streetfest brings a procession of light, music and general mayhem to the capital. And if you’re planning your cultural life this far in advance – well, a happy 2018 to you too.