We have lift-off: Irish cultural calendar 2015

A year of Yeats. The return of the Gathering. The zaniness of TedFest. The muckiness of the National Ploughing Championships. The musical magic of Electric Picnic. The spectacular scenery of Earagail Arts Festival. And much more. Consider yourself told

Electric Picnic in Stradbally, Co Laois, which takes place in early September. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Electric Picnic in Stradbally, Co Laois, which takes place in early September. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons



Yeats 2015

All year

A national celebration of the life and work of the Nobel prize-winning poet, with an extensive programme of new works and affiliated events. yeats2015.com

Out to Lunch


Feeling the cold? Head north for enough poetry, philosophy, stand-up and string quartets to warm the cockles of the chilliest heart. This wide-ranging Belfast festival celebrates its 10th birthday in 2015. 028-90232403, cqaf.com

Music for Galway Midwinter


Soundtracks for Superpowers is the theme as the chamber music of Haydn and Shostakovich is highlighted over three days in Galway city. 091-569777, musicforgalway.ie

Temple Bar Tradfest

28th- Feb 1st

This year’s feast of trad in the heart of Dublin city is a blend of flavours old and new, with music to whet all appetites: Hothouse Flowers, Cara Dillon, Danu, Liam O’Flynn, Matt Molloy and Arty McGlynn, L’Air du Temps and Marc O’Reilly & and Hard Ground. tickets.ie, templebartrad.com

Digital Biscuit


The future of film and technology is at the centre of the third Digital Biscuit forum, to be held at the Science Gallery in Dublin. Speakers will include director and screenwriter Michel Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame and Bruno Delbonnel, cinematographer for Amelie and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. There’ll also be demos and exhibits of the latest gadgets and gizmos, not least a 20-minute virtual reality, multi-dimensional installation for Oculus Rift, The Dog House. digitalbiscuit.ie



Feile na Tána


A new festival celebrating the best of Irish traditional music and culture, set in the beautiful village of Carlingford, Co Louth. With Seamus Begley, Donogh Hennesy, Zoe Conway and Mary Bergin. feilenatana.com

Cork Spring


Women poets make a particularly strong showing in 2015’s helping of poetry by the Lee, with readings from Lavinia Greenlaw, Enda Wyley, Liz Berry and Martina Evans, as well as workshops, prizes and book launches. 021-4312955, corkpoetryfest.net

The Gathering


The Gathering rides again at the Gleneagles Hotel in Killarney. Gigs and masterclasses with Matt Cranitch, Cathy Jordan, Seán Keane and John Spillane. 064-6671550, thegathering.ie

Clonakilty International Games


Everything the serious – or not-so-serious – gamer could require, from Backgammon to Boil Your Head, game-making workshops; there’s even a Where’s Wally extravaganza. Plus good food and glorious surroundings. 089-4352675, clonakiltygamesfestival.com

Waterford New Music Week


Celebrating and promoting contemporary music for all ages, with free daytime events. garterlane.ie


26th-March 1st

Inis Mór becomes Craggy Island for a weekend of Father Ted-related madness. tedfest.org

St Patrick's Day


Belfast Nashville


Andy Fairweather Low & the Low Riders and Foy Vance top the bill at Belfast’s celebration of all things country. 028-90246609, belfastnashville.com

What? . . . Wow 


Nine ensembles, six gigs, five premieres, two days . . . and music by Brian Eno, John Luther Adam and Linda Buckley. The festival formerly known as New Music Dublin gets a new look for 2015. nch.ie

Ennis Book Club Festival


Page-turning heaven in Co Clare. 087-9723647, ennisbookclubfestival.com

Dingle International Film Festival


Boutique film festival on the Wild Atlantic Way. 087-9139962, dinglefilmfestival.com

St Patrick’s Festival


Funfairs, street theatre, live gigs, a craft beer and food market, a floating cinema on Grand Canal Dock – and parades galore all around the country. Plus buildings, from Ennis Friary to Kilkenny Castle, will turn green to celebrate our national saint’s day. 01-6763205, stpatricksfestival.ie

Silk Road Film Festival


Dublin festival with a focus on Asian, Arab, Persian, Middle Eastern, African and European cinema. 087-6765662, silkroadfilmfestival.com

Mountains to the Sea

March 18th-22nd

Making a big move from its annual autumn slot to new dates in early spring, Dún Laoghaire’s seaside literary festival aims to blossom anew in 2015. 01-2719532, mountainstosea.ie

Jameson Dublin Film Festival


Here’s looking at 11 days – and nights – of big-screen activity as our capital city becomes a movie mecca. Already announced are premieres of The Price of Desire, an Eileen Gray biopic starring Alanis Morissette, Vincnt Perez and Orla Brady, and Alan Rickman’s period drama A Little Chaos, with Kate Winslet. Plus the playwright and director David Hare in person. 01-6624260, jdiff.com

Price of Desire


One City One Book

All month

Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy – The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van – has been chosen as Dublin’s favourite read for next year. Expect high jinks to break out all over town with a series of associated events throughout the month. 01-6744809, dublincityonebook.ie



Now entering its third year, this festival assembles a host of Irish and international electronic musicians, visual artists and film-makers at The Dock in Carrick-on-Shannon for a celebration of all things that go bleep in the night. phaseonefestival.com

Cork Tango Festival


Cork City Hall becomes Tango Central for one flamboyant weekend. 087-2627887, corktangofestival.com



Poetry and plenty more at Galway’s annual festival of literature. cuirt.ie

Dublin Greek Film Festival


Explore Hellenic culture through features, short films and documentaries along with special events, such as a dance workshop, at the inaugural Greek film festival. greekfilmfestival.ie

Cork International Choral Festival

29th-May 3rd

Choirs from all over Europe compete for the top prizes, and there’s an exciting programme of concerts to boot, from baroque madrigals through medieval music to a gala gig with Carmina Slovenica. 021-4215125, corkchoral.ie

Drogheda Arts Festival

28th-May 4th

From ambient music in secret locations to Boyne Valley treasure tours, this Louth festival makes the most of its historic location. 041-9803311, droghedaartsfestival.ie

Féile na Bealtaine 

29th-May 4th

Bilingual festival which aims to showcase the culture of the Dingle Peninsula. 087-7994488, feilenabealtine.ie

Cathedral Quarter

30th-May 10th

Cultural revelry all day and into the wee hours on the streets of Belfast. 028-90232403, cqaf.com

Dublin Dance Festival



All month

Month-long, countrywide celebration of creativity which brings first-time and professional artists together to make new and challenging work. 01-8057709, ageandopportunity.ie

Shannon Blueway Adventure Festival


Want to get away from it all over the bank holiday weekend? Paddle your own canoe along the brand-new Shannon Blueway: and if kayaking, cycling, horse-riding and trail-running don’t float your boat, there’ll be a carnival along the riverbank and at the marina in Leitrim village, with music and live entertainment. waterwaysireland.org

Music in Drumcliffe


The tranquil surroundings of Yeats country form a serene backdrop to a stimulating weekend of chamber music hosted by the Vogler Quartet. musicindrumcliffe.ie

Galway Early Music Festival


Time as the basis of music, and early music as time travel, is the intriguing theme for next year’s festival. 087-9305506, galwayearlymusic.com

Barrow River Arts Festival


Bach cantatas to Barry McGovern reading Joyce and Flann O’Brien: all in the graceful surroundings of Borris House, Co Carlow. 086-1777017, barrowriverartsfestival.com

Dublin Writers’ Festival


Last year we had wonderful Tim Winton and magnificent Pauline McGlynn – to name but two – as part of this capital celebration of all things bookish. The full programme will be announced in April. 01-2225455, dublinwritersfestival.com

Fleadh Nua


The traditional world revolves around Ennis, Co Clare, for this annual gathering of musicians from Ireland and the world. 065-6824276, fleadhnua.com

Dublin Dance Festival


Next year’s feast of dance will include three shows at the Abbey: cool contemporary choreography from Berlin-based Meg Stuart and her company Damaged Goods, award-winning flamenco from Israel Galvan and Liz Roche’s new piece, the first ever to be commissioned for the main Abbey stage from an Irish choreographer. 01-6790524, dublindancefestival.ie

Conamara Bog Week

22nd-June 1st

Concerts at Kylemore Abbey and in Letterfrack Church, guided walks in the national park, bog paintings and family events: the 30th Conamara Bog Week festival aims to get everyone out and about in our precious wetland habitat. 085-1154629, ceecc.org

Listowel Writers’ Week


Discussion and debate from a jaw-dropping assembly of visiting authors at the 44th edition of the venerable Co Kerry literary festival. 068-21074, writersweek.ie

Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival


Some 10,000 devotees from 30 countries are expected at the Big Top in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, for the annual celebration of the guitarist’s life and work. rorygallagherfestival.com

Sky Cat Laughs

28th-June 1st

Weekend of comedy brings the best of Irish and international stand-up talent to Kilkenny. 056-7763837, thecatlaughs.com

Éigse Carlow

29th-June 7th

The 2015 programme will range from Dancing at Lughnasa to a three-day carnival packed with food stalls, pop-up galleries, and street theatre. 059-9173381, carlowartsfestivalcom



Clonmel Junction


Circus, music, dance and spectacle by the Suir. 052-6129339, junctionfestival.com

Borris House Festival of Writing and Ideas


One of our newest literary festivals gathers writers and thinkers for a weekend of dialogue and debate in the lovely surroundings of Borris House, Co Carlow. 059-9173381, festivalofwritingandideas.com

Irish Aerial Dance Festival


“Anyone can fly,” according to the organisers of this high-flying festival, organised by Fidget Feet in Letterkenny – so why not fly to Donegal and take off? 087-9887530, irishaerialdancefest.com

Live at the Marquee

8th-July 14th

Riverdance, Christy Moore, The Coronas, ZZ Top, Nathan Carter and Dara Ó Briain are among the names already confirmed for this year’s Marquee by the Lee sessions. 01-7755800



Travel-writing festival based in Lismore, Co Waterford. With Paul Theroux, Simon Winchester and Charlie Connolly. 058-53803, lismoreimmrama.com



Straw boaters and striped jackets at the ready for the annual outbreak of Edwardian costumes, readings, performances, re-enactments and kidney breakfasts as Dublin celebrates its favourite fictional son, the antihero of Joyce’s Ulysses, Leopold Bloom. 01-8788547, jamesjoyce.ie

Cork Midsummer


Unique events in unexpected places is the motto of this explosion of events on the banks of the Lee. 021-4215131, corkmidsummer.com

Body and Soul


Starlit sessions, music-filled yurts, poetry by candlelight and lots more . . . celebrate the summer solstice in style at the perfectly-formed boutique festival at Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath. Families are welcome; there’s even a special kids’ area. bodyandsoul.ie

Sea Sessions


Sound waves and real waves collide in the seaside town of Bundoran, Co Donegal, for three action-packed days of surfing, skating and music. seassessions.com

Killarney Festival of Music and Food


The festival formerly known as Westport has upped sticks, rebranded and moved to Co Kerry. Seriously. Well, you couldn’t make it up, could you?

Drogheda Samba Festival


A three-day party of Latin and African music and dance, including the now-traditional five-hour, non-stop samba session on the main street. 041-9838332, droghedasamba.com

Hay Festival Kells


What do Jung Chang, Germaine Greer and Jeanette Winterson have in common? They’ve all brought their books – and themselves – to Kells for the Meath leg of the hugely successful literary festival based in Hay-on-Wye in Wales. 046-9240055, hayfestival.com

West Cork Chamber Music Festival

28th-July 4

This nine-day festival features 45 concerts with more than 100 top international chamber musicians. The venues are pretty spectacular, too, from the intimacy of St Brendan’s Church, Bantry, to the elegance of Bantry House. 027-0527889, westcorkmusic.ie

King Puck




Shortlisted for the best new festival in Europe award on its debut outing two years ago, Groove rocks the pristine grounds of Kilruddery House in Bray, Co Wicklow. groovefestival.ie

West Cork Literary Festival


With its lively selection of visiting writers and hugely popular week-long workshops, the West Cork Literary Festival provides the perfect excuse to visit Bantry. 027-527889, westcorkmusic.ie

Earagail Arts Festival


Two weeks of wild and wonderful collaborations on Ireland’s spectacular and unspoiled north-western coast. The 2015 Earagail Arts Festival incorporates a four-day festival of world music as well as a bilingual multidisciplinary programme, Wild Atlantic World. 074-9168800, eaf.ie

Galway Arts Festival


There’s something for everyone at Galway’s summer outpouring of art. The 2015 programme will include visual art from influential French-American artist Louise Bourgeois and three theatrical co-productions, not least Samuel Beckett’s rarely-performed Lessness, starring Olwen Fouéré. As a taster, the festival will hold an programme of discussion and debate, First Thought, in Connemara in April. 091-509700, galwayartsfestival.com



Big gigs and great nights in Marlay Park. Watch for band announcements throughout January. longitude.ie

Sligo Jazz Project


A supergroup-in-residence is just one of the items on the agenda at the 10th slice of Sligo Jazz Project. Gigs, workshops and jam sessions will also be in full swing. 071-9157862, sligojazz.ie

Happy Days

23rd-August 3rd

Enniskillen is the focus for all things Beckett at the annual celebration of the writer’s life and work. 028-66325000, happy-days-enniskillen.com



Peace, love and music among the gently wooded hills of the Blessington lakes: no wonder this lively little festival has become a favourite on the summer circuit. knockanstockan.ie


31st-August 2nd

Indie rock for the south-west is the order of the day for the bank holiday weekend at Mitchelstown, Co Cork. indiependencefestival.com


31st-August 2nd

They’ve had The Charlatans, Mercury Rev and Sister Sledge; it’s a 17th-century castle surrounded by oak woods; and ticket holders get daily access to the castle, where there are art exhibitions and workshops and oodles of spa-type pampering. castlepalooza.com

Puck Fair

31st-August 2nd

Busking, dancing, singing and major merriment in Killorglin, Co Kerry – and the crowning of a goat to boot. What’s not to love? 066-9762366, puckfair.ie


31st-August 2nd

It’s no accident that this festival’s name is the Irish word for exuberance: street theatre is at the heart of it, and alongside the annual parade, a programme of newly-commissioned work brings Waterford’s historic city centre to joyous life. 051-841808, spraoi.com



Dublin Horse Show


Horse and lots more – fashion, live music, gourmet food – at the RDS in Ballsbridge. 01-6680866, dublinhorseshow.com

Feakle Music Festival


Workshops, sessions, talks, concerts, CD launches: every aspect of traditional music is explored in the Co Clare town in August. 061-924322, feaklefestival.ie

Kilkenny Arts Festival


Last year it was brilliant Beethoven and a church full of clouds: expect another bravura set of performances in theatre, dance, visual arts and music at Kilkenny in 2015. 056-7763663, kilkennyarts.ie

Masters of Tradition


The annual festival of trad in west Cork, with Martin Hayes at the helm, sails serenely into late summer. 027-527889, westcorkmusic.ie

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 


Two in a row for Sligo. which once again hosts the Fleadh Ceoil, bringing 10,000 musicians and 300,000 fans north-west for the annual outpouring of traditional virtuosity. 01-2800295, fleadhcheoil.ie

Rose of Tralee


The best Lovely Girls festival in the world, bar none. 066-7121322, roseoftralee.ie

National Ploughing Championships


Electric Picnic


According to their Twitter feed, Belle & Sebastian are already signed up as headliners at the annual bash in Stradbally, Co Laois: expect many more top names to join them as details of the Picnic programme are released over the coming weeks. 081-8719300, electricpicnic.ie

Harvest Time Blues


Monaghan’s annual serving of laid-back sounds at the Market House and the marquee. 047-38162, harvestblues.ie

Dublin Fringe Festival


Mayhem and madness as 10 days of theatre, dance, music and spectacle spread like wildfire across Dublin. 01-6706106, fringefest.com

National Ploughing Championships


More than 279,000 people checked out last year’s collection of sheepdog trials, craft villages, food fairs and exhibitions in Ratheniska, Co Laois. 059-8625125, npa.ie

Dublin Theatre Festival

24th-Oct 11th

Late September is theatre season in Dublin, with new plays and new productions from all over the world visiting our stages. Already confirmed is the National Theatre of Britain’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. 01 -6778439, dublintheatrefestival.com

Clifden Arts Week


Community arts week provides locals and visitors alike with a wide range of readings, recitals, theatre and comedy, all in the spectacular surroundings of Connemara. 095-21878, clifdenartsweek.ie

Culture Night


Countrywide event where arts practitioners, venues and organisations open their doors until late. Oodles of free family activities. culturenight.ie

New Ross Piano festival


Last year it was piano-plus-winds, but autumn always finds the winds of change blowing fresh sounds to this distinctive weekend of music in the Wexford town of New Ross. 051-421766, newrosspianofestival.com





Theatre, dance, literature, music and puppetry for children and families in Galway city and county. 091-562667, baboro.ie

Imagine Arts


Unusual events in interesting venues is the name of the game at this 10-day festival of history and heritage in and around Waterford city. 087-8536878, imagineartsfestival.com

Conamara Sea Week


Music and our marine heritage are celebrated with gigs, workshops, a poetry trail and family festivities culminating in a night-time procession through Letterfrack village. 085-1154629, ceecc.org

Galway Comedy Festival


Autumn in the spiegeltent is a smile-inducing affair: past visitors to the festival include Tommy Tiernan, Rich Hall, Des Bishop, Ardal O’Hanlon and many more. galwaycomedyfestival.com

Sligo Live


The Waterboys and Jools Holland lead the charge at the north-west’s annual folk, roots and indie festival. sligolive.ie

Wexford Festival Opera

21st-Nov 1st

Delius, Mascagni and Herold are the composers whose works will be presented on the main stage at this year’s edition of the boutique opera festival. 053-9122400, wexfordopera.com

Guinness Cork Jazz Festival


More than 1,000 musicians in dozens of performances at 70 venues citywide, with more than 95 per cent of the sessions free of entry charges. guinnessjazzfestival.com



Atlantic Sessions


A chance to be cosy on our stunning Northern coastline, with 40 free gigs around Portrush and Portstewart as well as some ticketed events at the Flowerfield Arts Centre. atlanticsessions.com

Sligo International Choral Festival


A dynamic selection of vocal music over a weekend of competitions and concerts. sligochoralfest.com

Ardee Baroque


The Irish Baroque Orchestra moves to Louth for a feast of sumptuous music.

Subtitle Kilkenny


The cream of European cinema in snug venues across Kilkenny city. subtitlefest.com



Other Voices


It wouldn’t be December without dark evenings, decorations - and the annual pilgrimage to Dingle for the delightful panoply of music and song that is Other Voices. othervoices.ie

NYF Dublin

30th-January 1st

This year sees the creation of a three-day citywide festival to get us through to 2016 in grand style, with a countdown, a music trail, a procession of light and numerous free family-friendly events. If it works, it’ll be back next year. nyfdublin.com



One of the 20th century’s blatantly greatest poets – or a blatantly underutilised resource in Irish cultural tourism? Whatever your feelings about William Butler Yeats, it’s going to be hard to avoid him as Yeats 2015 gets under way. Twelve months of readings, plays, exhibitions, lectures, new music, screenings and dance will mark 150 years since the birth of the Nobel prize-winning poet on June 13th, 1865.

“It’s the first time Ireland has celebrated an individual in this way,” says Yeats 2015 project director Lisa Hallinan. “And the fact that we’re hoping to celebrate it by celebrating the arts and culture in Ireland can only be a good thing.”

Yeats’s adopted county of Sligo will be at the centre of the action, but the Yeats roadshow will turn up just about everywhere in the country and beyond, culminating in a great outburst of Yeats-related activity on Yeats Day, June 13th.

The programme is huge and diverse. Highlights include an exhibition of Yeats paintings at the National Gallery, a weekend of music and poetry curated by Thomas Bartlett and Paul Muldoon at the National Concert Hall, a series of special gigs at the National Library’s long-running Yeats exhibition and a new dance piece by Liz Roche at the Abbey. In Sligo, there’ll be a festival of Yeats theatre, both outdoor and indoor, from Blue Raincoat Theatre Company, as well as the Tread Softly festival in August. The Yeats summer school will be preceded by a Yeats winter school. There’ll be music at Coole Park in Gort, Co Galway, and a literary reassessment of Yeats at UCD.

If you can’t wait for any of that, you can go on the website right now, and record yourself reading a slice of Yeats for their online audio archive; or you can go to Hargadon’s pub in Sligo, where a poem will be read at 1pm daily all year. yeats2015.com


  • Out to Lunch From beatboxer Shlomo to kilted comedian Craig Hill, Belfast lights up for January with this cheerful profusion of lunchtime comedy, drama and music. Plus, on the feast of the Epiphany, a screening of John Huston’s film The Dead – complete with a Joycean meal which will include roast goose, blancmange, toasted almonds and sherry. Yum? January 2nd-25th
  • What? . . . Wow If you’ve never witnessed Bang on a Can’s spectacular eight-hour marathon of works by Irish and international composers, get the date into your diary right now. Two days of dynamic new music at the National Concert Hall. March 6th-7th
  • Mountains to the Sea Will its move from autumn to a new springtime slot be a success for the south Dublin literary festival? We hope so. It has always been an uncommonly civilised event in the past. March 18th-22nd
  • Conamara Bog Week We’re finally waking up to the cultural value of our bogs and wetlands. Festivals such as this one play their part by bringing all sorts of artistic activities to these soggy surroundings. May 22nd-June 1st
  • Festival of Writing and Ideas The annual weekend of dialogue and discussion at Borris House in Co Carlow has been extended to include a “non-fiction Friday”. It has made a name for itself through eclectic, provocative combinations of speakers – but the seductive surroundings of the Barrow valley are also a big draw. June 5th-7th
  • Earagail Arts Festival Three festivals for the price of one is the story in Donegal this year as the Earagail festival introduces a folk and roots strand as well as a series of unusual musical collaborations, Wild Atlantic World. And we don’t have to tell you how spectacular it is up there. Do we? July 11th-26th
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