25 things to do this June bank holiday weekend

Bloom, Cat Laughs, Forbidden Fruit, Vantastival, Women’s Mini Marathon and more


AVA Festival
S13 Warehouse and the Mac, Belfast, June 1st-2nd avafestival.com
This audio-visual arts (ava) festival and conference is where electronic music and digital visual art converge. The line-up includes Bicep (DJ), KiNK (Live), Helena Hauff, Saoirse, Inside Moves, Misfit, Long Island Sound, High Hoops and Mount Palomar. Experience the groovy sounds and join in conversations with others on the same journey. Weekend and day tickets from festicket.com


Open Ear Festival
Various venues on Sherkin Island May 31st-June 4th openear.ie
An experimental music festival inclusive of everything from electro-acoustic/techno and industrial music to sound art installation works. Acclaimed Irish composer Roger Doyle performs at the opening concert with Áine O'Dwyer and Dreamcycles. Steven Stapleton (Nurse With Wound) performs his Sleep Concert overnight on Thursday/Friday, finishing with a 7am free breakfast for those who stayed the course. Other performers include Vicky Langan, Davy Kehoe, Robert Curgenven and Christian Donaghy aka Autumns. Tickets €30 opening night concert; €165 weekend tickets.

Bandon Music Festival
Bandon, Co Cork June 1st-3rd bandonmusicfestival.com
Check out up-and-coming Irish bands The Academic, Ryan Sheridan and Ronan Nolan, The Livelees and Tanjier. Tickets €30-€15 and under-14s go free when accompanied by an adult.

Cork Harbour Festival
Various venues in Cork June 2nd-6th corkharbourfestival.com oceantocity.com
Probably the most expansive programme of events over the weekend, the Cork Harbour Festival celebrates the maritime history of Cork with over 70 events in Cork city and harbour towns and villages. Join the crowds to watch An Rás Mór, the ocean-to-city rowing race on Saturday, June 2nd; visit the Pelican of London tall ship or explore an Irish naval vessel. Also opportunities to paddle in a dragon boat, row in a currach, take a gentle boat tour through the harbour or go on a "Love Boat" speed date. Learn about marine life and ocean plastics, or get involved in a river clean-up. And for the foodies, there are chowder cook-offs, seaweed walks, a fish dish trail and smoked fish tasters.



Bloom in the Park
The Phoenix Park, Dublin May 31st-June 4th 9am-6pm bloominthepark.com
The annual extravaganza of spectacular show gardens, flower and nursery plant pavilions, delicious artisan food in the Bord Bia food village, Irish craft stalls, a conservation zone and workshops and play spaces for children. Quirky additions this year include Universal Studios' Greek-style garden inspired by ABBA songs to celebrate the cinema launch of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Tickets €16-€25 and under-16s go free.

Forbidden Fruit Festival
Royal Hospital Kilmainham, June 2nd-4th forbiddenfruit.ie
Weather permitting, this daytime festival draws the crowds with acts including Justice, Grizzly Bear, Earl Sweatshirt and Idris Elba, Warpaint, Or.la, Jasper James and Loah. Two-day/one-day tickets on ticketmaster.ie

Dublin Bay Cruises
Dublin Bay Daily 9.30am-5.30pm dublinbaycruises.com  
Take a boat trip across Dublin Bay from Dublin City to Howth or Dún Laoghaire or across the whole bay from Howth to Dún Laoghaire or vice versa. You can also take shorter trips from Dún Laoghaire around Dalkey Island. Observe key landmarks such as the Poolbeg Lighthouse, James Joyce Martello Tower, Howth Head and Killiney Hill from the sea and enjoy time in the Dublin Bay Unesco biosphere (dublinbaybiosphere.ie). €22 adults/€19 OAPs/€14 3-14 years/under-threes free.

Dalkey Castle
Dalkey, Co Dublin Daily dalkeycastle.com
Hop on the Dart from Dublin city centre to explore the charming coastal village of Dalkey. Climb the battlements of Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre for views over the sea/mountains and enjoy the Living History tours in which costumed actors interact with you. Drop-in tours are €9.50 adults/€7.50 for under-12s. Those with a literary interest can join the Irish Writers Walks which celebrate James Joyce, Flann O'Brien and Maeve Binchy (starting on June 8th but available at other times if booked on 01-2858366 or info@dalkeycastle.com €12.50)

The Ark Children's Workshops
The Ark Children's Cultural Centre, Eustace St, Temple Bar, Dublin May 31st & June 2nd 10.15am (for aged 2) & 11.45am (for 3-4 year olds) ark.ie 01-6707788
These workshops for 2-4-year-olds explore the creative potential of paper by showing participants how to make everything from paper hats to paper trees and paper giraffes. €11.50/€8.50.

A Spoonful of Sherman: The Songbook of Your Childhood

Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire June 2nd-3rd 8pm paviliontheatre.ie
A nostalgia-filled musical filled with popular songs from shows including Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book, Winnie-the-Pooh and The Aristocats. The Oscar-winning Sherman Brothers produced music, songs and scores for dozens of films. The show stars Olivier-nominated Sophie Louise-Dann (Gary Barlow's The Girls musical), former A1 band member Mark Read (Guys and Dolls), Glen Facey (Hairspray), Jenna Innes (Animus) and Ben Stock (Beauty and the Beast). Tickets €22/€20

Emil Nolde – Colour Is Life
The National Gallery, Merrion Square, Dublin Ends June 10th nationalgallery.ie
Grab the opportunity to see this collection of works by German expressionist artist Emil Nolde in this once-off exhibition. The collaboration with the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art includes painted scenes from Berlin cafe culture, calligraphic views of the River Elbe, studies made on travels to the South Seas, portraits, flower paintings, and depictions of fantastical creatures in both oils and watercolours, on loan from the Nolde Foundation Seebüll, Germany. Art historian Carmel Coyle will give a talk on Emil Nolde on Friday, June 1st at 1.15pm (for ticket holders to the exhibition). Free guided tours of the permanent collections are on Saturday June 2nd (12.30pm and 2.30pm), Sunday June 3rd (11.30am and 1.30pm) and Monday June 4th (11.30am, 1.30pm and 2.30pm). On Sunday June 3rd from 11.30am-1.30pm, children and accompanied adults can join a drop-in workshop. Family friendly tours on Sun/Mon at 12.30pm

Debussy Festival
National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin May 31st, June 7th & 14th nch.ie
One hundred years after the death of the great French composer, pianist Therese Fahy will perform world premieres of seven newly commissioned Irish works, inspired by Debussy, as well as the original 1920 "Tombeau to Debussy" commissions, interwoven with Debussy's own masterpieces. €20 or €55 for all three 01-4170000

Rock the Yard Music Festival
Courtyard Hotel, Leixlip, Co Dublin June 1st-4th courtyard.ie 01-6295100
Headline acts at this outdoor music festival include Kormac's Big Band, Hudson Taylor, The Riptide Movement and the annual Smash Hits performances.

Howth Trad Fest
Howth, Co Dublin June 1st-4th visithowth.ie
The second year of this traditional Irish music festival boasts over 20 gigs in nine venues in this North Dublin seaside town. Headline acts include Irish folk/world music group Kila and Dublin singer-songwriter Chris Kavanagh. Many events free.

VHI Women's Mini Marathon
Dublin city centre Sunday June 3rd 2pm vhiwomensminimarathon.ie
The VHI Women's Mini Marathon is the biggest all-women's event of its kind in the world. Thousands of women from Ireland and abroad run or walk the 10km event in Dublin city. The race starts on Fitzwilliam Street Upper and finishes on Baggot Street. Expect some road closures and lots of cheering supporters along the route.


Connemara Bog Week
Letterfrack, Co Galway May 27th-June 4th ceecc.org/conamara-bog-week
This annual festival incorporates walking, talking, music and poetry in the scenic surroundings of the Connemara National Park. Visitors and locals can also join free guided walks of the bog, starting from the Connemara National Park tearooms at 11am each day from May 28th-June 4th. Booking on 085-1154629


Motor Bike Festival
Killarney, Co Kerry June 1st-4th irelandbikefest.com
Billed as a family event, this annual celebration of motorbikes attracts thousands of enthusiasts from home and abroad. The leather-clad bikers and their groupies share one of Ireland's most touristy towns with other visitors at this annual adulation of big shiny machines. The Harley-Davidson will be granted special status in this its 115th year. The event includes outdoor music sessions, food stalls and of course motorbike ride-outs into the surrounding mountains.


The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival
Various venues, Kilkenny City May 31st-June 4th thecatlaughs.com
If you're new to Irish stand-up comedy, then this is the best place to get up to speed on who's who on the circuit. If you're an old hand, then all your favourite stars will be provoking everything from sly smirks to belly laughs. Namecheck David O'Doherty, Alison Spittle, Neil Delamere, Blindboy, Maeve Higgins, Aisling Bea; discover The Bear Pack from Sydney, Australia; and welcome back UK-based American comic Reginald D Hunter.


Cowboys and Heroes
Drumcoura City, Ballinamore, June 1st-4th  cowboysandheroes.ie
This country music festival features country music stars Mike Denver, Jimmy Buckley and Lisa McHugh, with lots of fun events on the side – western horse shows, American car shows, jive classes and line-dancing. The family day on Monday, June 4th has tractor runs and line-dancing for the youngsters too.


Beaulieu House, Drogheda, Co Louth June 1st-3rd vantastival.com
This is the annual sleepover party for kindred spirits who own (or borrow) a campervan. As well as a live music stage with headliner acts such as The Stunning and Le Galaxie, there are gourmet food stalls and arts and crafts workshops for children. There's a campsite for those in tents who aspire to touring in a campervan and want to see how it's done. Camping costs €120 for three nights/€95 for two nights. Day tickets also available.


Rhododendron Walking Festival
Clogheen, Co Tipperary June 1st-4th vee.ie
Offering an open invitation to all walking clubs, this new festival includes graded walks along the 32km Knockmealdown forest trail on Saturday and one/three hour walks along the Vee Road on Sunday, followed by a BBQ and live music. The three-hour walk is along a newly opened trail with spectacular views of rhododendrons in bloom. Family walks with guest speakers and fun activities on Monday. See also knockmealdownactive.com and siuleile.com


Blackwater Valley Opera Festival  
Various venues in Co Waterford, May 30th-June 3rd 085-2078944 blackwatervalleyoperafestival.com
Formerly the Lismore Opera Festival, this stylish festival brings popular operas to historic houses in the Blackwater Valley. This year's programme includes Gioachino Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri in Lismore Castle for three nights (May 30, June 1&2 tickets €85-€200) and concerts in St Carthage's Cathedral, Villierstown Church and Dromore Yard, a restored 18th-century farmhouse. Tickets €20/€30.

Hooked on the Sea Festival
Hook Head Peninsula June 1st-4th hookheritage.ie
This maritime festival has something for all ages and abilities, with paddle-boarding, boat trips on the estuary, local produce picnics and foraging walks. At the Hook Head Lighthouse, children can enjoy performances from the Wobbly Circus, go on a merry-go-round and swing-boats or play games on the lawns with Captain Hook and Pirate Pat. Also guided tours of the 800-year-old lighthouse.

Better Life Cycle Copper Coast Tour
Copper Coast, Co Waterford June 2nd 8.30am-6pm
This sponsored cycle, starting from Dungarvan, offers a 65km route (with the option to increase it to 75km when including the Mahon Falls) and a 150km cycle. Cyclists are grouped together by preferred speed, ensuring that everyone involved can safely complete the event at their own pace, while at the same time providing a more social atmosphere within each group. No registration fee but every cyclist must raise €150 for St Joseph's Foundation which provides services for people with intellectual disabilities. eventbrite.ie/e/better-life-cycle-2018-copper-coast-tour-registration-37773680094


Meet in the Garden
Gardens in Co Wicklow, June 1st-4th, countywicklowheritage.org 
As part of European Year of Cultural Heritage, many beautifully tended gardens are open to the public over the June Bank Holiday Weekend. These include Shekina Sculpture Garden in Glenmalure (11am-5pm daily, 0404-46128, booking essential); Gorse Hill Garden, Cliff Road, Windgates, Bray (guided tours on Sunday, June 3rd, from 11am to 5pm); National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh (guided walks Friday-Monday, 0404-48844); Knockanree Garden, Avoca (Friday and Saturday, June 1st and 2nd, 9.30am-1.30pm, 0402-40205); June Blake's Garden, Blessington (Friday-Monday, 11am-5.30pm, 087-2770399); Festina Lente Gardens, Bray (Friday-Monday, 01-2720704); Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford (Friday-Monday, 10am-6pm); and Killruddery Gardens, Bray (Saturday 1.30pm-4pm)