Festival fun: 25 things to do this summer in Ireland
From Body & Soul to the Big Grill, and Playstival to Dublin Pride, there’s plenty of summertime events to choose from
Relaxing at the Taste of Dublin festival in the Iveagh Gardens, Harcourt Street, DublinJune 14th-17th. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
Dublin Pride Parade
Stephen’s Green South, Dublin 2. June 30th. dublinpride.ie
The Dublin Pride Parade is an annual event which celebrates the diversity of the LGBTQ community in Ireland and around the globe. Music, speeches and entertainment begin at the starting location before attendees embark across the city. Dublin Pride has grown significantly in recent years, and the parade is now joined by a week-long festival of events.
Shinrin-yoku Forest Bathing Experience
June 10th-15th (locations vary according to date) naturehealthandwellbeing.ie
If you are looking to unwind this two-hour Shinrin–yoku (forest bathing) walk makes for a unique summer outing. It invites participants to reconnect with the outdoors by disconnecting from technology through expressive arts and sensory awareness to find mindfulness with the help of nature. It concludes with a tea ceremony of locally foraged plants. The experience aims to reduce stress and enhance participant’s well-being. Tickets €25.
Hell and Back
Killruddery Estate in Bray Co Wicklow. June 16th-17th, July 14th, September 29th-30th. hellandback.ie
For those looking for a mental and physical challenge this summer Hell and Back is the country’s largest obstacle course run. It is designed by award-winning outdoor specialists to push participants’ physical and mental boundaries to the limit. Those who take part must attempt to overcome a 7km/12km route, which encompasses man-made obstacles along Killruddery’s natural terrain. Hell and Back is not for adults only; they also have courses designed for families, teens and children aged 5-12. Ticket prices vary depending on event.
Ballinlough Castle, Clonmellon, Co Westmeath. June 22nd-24th. bodyandsoul.ie
This year’s Body and Soul festival will offer a host of musical delights. Artists such as Chronixx, Jon Hopkins, Baxter Dury, James Holden & The Animal Spirits are set to perform. Independent producers from across Ireland will provide culinary treats; there are spoken word performances, poetry readings, late-night raves, a masquerade ball, hot tubs and seaweed baths. Don’t miss The Irish Times stage, with live (and lively) debates and discussions of food, culture, politics and more. Tickets €70-€199.
The Irish Maritime Festival
Drogheda Port. June 16th-17th. maritimefestival.ie
For two days the Irish Maritime Festival transforms the bustling port in Drogheda into a family fun zone. Attendees can build sandcastles, search for archaeological treasures in the Sand Shanty, have fun in Finn MacCool’s Fairground or listen to live music on the Ballast Quay stage. There will be cookery demonstrations and tastings from local producers. Adult tickets €8/€5, 12-18-year-olds €3, under 12 free.
Various venues across Dublin. June 11th-16th. bloomsdayfestival.ie
Bloomsday commemorates the 100th anniversary of the serialisation of Ulysses in The Little Review. In honour of the occasion, there will be an exhibition of new prints by Frank Kiely, The Abbey Theatre revitalises its production of Ulysses, and in the festival’s academic series Prof Neil R Davison will discuss Dublin Municipal Politics and Joyce’s Colonial Irish-Jew. Locations across the city will offer a traditional Bloomsday Breakfast. Those who wish are encouraged to come in Joycean attire.
Indie Beer Week
Multiple locations around Ireland. June 22nd-July 1st. indiebeerweek.ie
Indie Beer Week is a 10-day event organised by the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland. Breweries involved organise events in their local community. Priory Brewing in Tallaght, for example, plans to hold an Artisan Food Pairing event which takes place on Saturday June 23rd and have partnered with the Legal Eagle for a Brewer’s Lunch on Sunday 24th. Further details can be found on the Priory Brewing or County Fare Facebook page.
Dalkey Book Festival
Various Venues, Dalkey, Co Dublin, June 14th-17th. dalkeybookfestival.org
The event was established in 2010 and now welcomes 15,000 people across the festival’s four-day run. It brings international authors, innovators, thinkers and agitators to Dalkey. This year the event has four Booker winners, two Pulitzers and two American National Book Award winners. Those who attend will be treated to a literary line-up which includes Deborah Levy, John Banville, Lionel Shriver, Roddy Doyle, Paul Muldoon, Anne Enright and Michael Ondaatje. In addition, there will be history, poetry, music and comedy to cater for all tastes. Tickets from €10.
Taste of Dublin
The Iveagh Gardens, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2. June 14th-17th. tasteofdublin.ie
Taste of Dublin returns this year armed with a host of new features. Cocktails will be served on the top floor of a wooden tram; an entire menu will be constructed with only food in various shades of pink. Famous culinary faces such as Candice Brown of the Great British Bake Off, Kevin Dundon of Dunbrody House and Rachel Allen of Ballymaloe will appear. Tickets from €15.
Waterford Garden Trail
Waterford city and county. Events run year round visitwaterford.com
For those with a green thumb, the Waterford Garden Trail features 13 gardens. There are lush gardens of landmark houses, more intimate grounds of smaller properties and garden centres. Many are accessible from the Waterford Greenway. Key dates for this year include charity events held by some gardens on the trail in support of the Alzheimer’s Society on July 8th. Curraghmore House will host Chapter House Theatre Company’s Little Women on June 22nd. Tickets can be purchased from the events at various locations €5-€15.
Galway city. June 29th-July 1st. seafest.ie
This family-friendly festival is a great way to discover Ireland’s maritime heritage. It offers interactive activities and covers everything from seafood cookery to cultural history, deep sea exploration and science. SeaFest aims to encourage engagement with the sea. The festival’s events are free, although pre-booking for some activities is advised.
Bundoran, Co Donegal June 22nd-24th seasessions.com
To mark its 10th birthday, Sea Sessions has erected a new campsite on the Wild Atlantic Way. It is a surf and music festival, with a strong focus on both music and sports. The festival line-up includes Dizzee Rascal, Walking On Cars, Rudimental and Hannah Wants. The festival offers tag rugby, barefoot soccer, beach volleyball, beach yoga, a surf event and a colour run. By taking part in the barefoot sports events, participants are in with a chance of nabbing tickets to the 2019 festival.
Midsummer’s Eve Bonfire Festival
Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare. June 23rd. burrencollege.ie/bonfire-festival
This one-day event kicks off at 8pm and reignites the tradition of St John’s Eve, with blazing bonfires, food, wine, art, music and dance. Rainbow Academy will supply free craft workshops for all ages. Food critic Robb Walsh will oversee the festival’s barbecue with help from Burren Food trail members, such as Burren Food & Wine and fresh Pouldoody Bay Oysters. Musical acts include Irish/Argentinian fusion by Los Paddys de Las Pampas and Ballyvaughan’s own Ukelele Orchestra. Tickets €12 online/€15 at door.
Laya Healthcare’s City Spectacular Cork and Dublin
Merrion Square, Dublin 2. July 6th-8th and July 14th-15th Fitzgerald Park, Co Cork cityspectacular.com
The 13th annual Laya Healthcare’s City Spectacular returns this summer. The event showcases living statue artists and international street performers. The It’s Good to Live Stage allows families to dance, drum, jump and take part in health classes on both weekends. The event has partnered with the DSPCA to create a special pet area, with dog training, agility demonstrations and a doggy adoption parade. Entry is free with some free family activities making it an affordable, diverse and interactive summer event, where even canine companions are welcome.
Galway International Arts Festival
Galway city, Co Galway. July 16th-29th. giaf.ie
A summer staple for those venturing along the Wild Atlantic Way, the Galway International Arts Festival offers visual arts, theatre, comedy, dance, discussion, street spectacle and opera. This year features its largest theatre programme to date mixing contemporary Irish works with stories from Syria, South Africa, Australia and Scotland. Highlights include Orfeo ed Euridice, a new production by the Irish National Opera, and the launch of the first Thought Talks strand of the festival by President Michael D Higgins.
The Festival of Curiosity
Various locations across Dublin. July 19th-22nd. festivalofcuriosity.ie
This festival has become an annual event in the capital. It offers a family programme during the day and “curious nights” for the older generation, making it an event for all ages. The festival strives to produce an interactive cultural experience that combines the latest trends in technology, arts, science and design. New acts include Marco Zoppi and Rolanda, winners of the Merlin Award for Best European Bubble Artists who will appear at the National Concert Hall and conjure up bubbles of all kind from smoke to levitating creations.
The Summer Series at Trinity College
Trinity College Dublin 2. July 23rd-29th. mcd.ie
The Summer Series at Trinity College Dublin is back with gusto. Its line-up includes Grace Jones, who will open the event, pop triad Wyvern Lingo, and Il Divo and the Trinity Orchestra. Gavin James will headline on Saturday and Imelda May will close the event. Tickets €49.90-€60.45
Dublin Horse Show
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. August 8th-12th. dublinhorseshow.com
Some 1,500 horses and ponies take part in more than 130 competitions and classes across the five days of the Dublin Horse Show. The show includes Dundrum Town Centre’s Ladies day on Thursday, the Aga Khan on Friday and the Puissance on Saturday. The more cultured soul can mosey around the RDS Library Exhibition. Keelings Kids Zone is on hand to keep the younger generation occupied. Tickets at ticketmaster.ie or by calling 0818 719 300.
Playstival with The Happy Pear
Airfield Estate, Overend Avenue, Dundrum, Dublin 14. Aug 11th-12th. playstival.ie
A new event this year is Playstival which promises a back-to-basics approach to games and family activities favouring imagination and active participation over technology. The Happy Pear will supply healthy kid and adult-friendly bites all weekend. There will be eight themed “play universes” for young participants to construct characters, roles and ideas. A standard ticket costs €12.42. Free for children under two.
The Big Grill Festival
Herbert Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. August 16th-19th biggrillfestival.com
This food festival is the largest BBQ festival in Europe and was dubbed “Festival of the Year 2018” by John & Sally McKenna in their guide, Ireland The Best. It brings together more than 20 restaurants and boasts 20,000-plus visitors. It is a food festival with a twist in that each restaurant must cook with live fire using only natural charcoal and wood, with competitive fire pits constructed for the event. This year Jess Murphy from Kai in Galway will be present along with other culinary masterminds. Tickets €18-€29.
Kilkenny Arts Festival
Various locations in Kilkenny city. August 9th-19th. kilkennyarts.ie
The medieval streets of Kilkenny come alive each year during this 10-day event using the historic spaces of the city to showcase theatre, music, dance, spoken word, art, design and much more. This year’s offering includes an Irish reimagining of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, an innovative full staging of a Baroque opera and a series of Brahms chamber works. Ticket prices vary.
NCBI Cycle of Light
Cuala GAA Clubhouse, Hyde Park, Glenageary, Co Dublin. August 24th. ncbi.ie
For a new way to experience Dublin this summer try the NCBI nighttime cycling tour of the city. The event allows participants to complete the 85km journey at their leisure between Dalkey and Howth. Shorter distances are also available. The event raises vital funds for NCBI’s rehabilitation and children services. Minimum fundraising targets start at €250 for an individual and €380 per tandem.
All Together Now
Curraghmore House, Co Waterford. August 3rd-5th. alltogethernow.ie
For those craving a new festival experience All Together Now has 10 stages which include an alfresco crystal ballroom and Spiegeltent. Performers include Fleet Foxes, Underworld, Villagers and Mura Masa. The event promises a mix of music, spoken word, comedy, theatre, debate, art and workshops. Tickets from ticketmaster.ie
Stradbally Hall, Co Laois. August 31st-September 2nd. electricpicnic.ie
Electric Picnic returns to Stradbally Hall with an eclectic array of music, culture and gastronomic fair. Acts include Kendrick Lamar, Massive Attack, N.E.R.D, Dua Lipa and Ben Howard. Festival-goers can romp around the 600-acre estate and experience its many attractions including Body and Soul, Trenchtown, Salty Dog and Trailer Park. Early entry campers who arrive on Thursday night are promised lots of laughs in Hazelwood a special comedy night, with an all-female line-up. Tickets are sold out.
The National Reptile Zoo
Demesne Road, Gowran, Co Kilkenny. nationalreptilezoo.ie
The reptile zoo is dedicated to the conservation of these incredible creatures, and visitors are given the chance to adopt a resident from just €25. The proceeds go towards feeding and caring for the animal for one year. The zoo has more than 50 exhibits, animal encounter zone, tropical walk-through habitat, and indoor and outdoor picnic areas. Open 10am-6pm year round.