Best festivals Ireland

Top Celebrations at the Best Festivals Ireland

Festivals in Ireland are a big part of cultural life. They take place from busy Dublin to the quiet countryside. Every aspect of Irish life is celebrated through music, dance, food, heritage, and film. This gives a lively touch to their cultural spirit.

These events, filled with fun and music, allow everyone to dive into Irish culture. The festivals happen in cities and the calm countryside. They are the best way for anyone to experience the real Ireland, making unforgettable memories.

Key Takeaways

  • Temple Bar Tradfest, now in its 17th year, will enchant Dublin from 25th to 29th January1.
  • Dublin Film Festival showcases over 120 films from 23rd February to 4th March1.
  • St Patrick’s Day is globally celebrated on 17th March each year, with grand festivities in Dublin1,2.
  • Galway Food Festival is set for 6th to 10th April, featuring gourmet experiences1.
  • Fleadh Nua, an acclaimed traditional music festival, occurs every May in Ennis, County Clare1.
  • The Cork Summer Festival, a celebration of arts and culture, runs from 14th to 25th June1.

Temple Bar Tradfest

Temple Bar Tradfest is a key event in Ireland for fans of traditional Irish music. In its 17th year, this festival lights up historic Dublin with its rich melodies. It’s a must-see for anyone wanting to experience the heart of Ireland’s music scene3.

Highlights of the Tradfest

The Tradfest features both famous and rising stars in the music world. There are over 50 concerts held in pubs and historic places across Dublin. This brings a mix of Irish and international fans together3. Visitors can dive into events like the Smithwicks Sessions and TradFringe. The “Talking Trad” podcast, hosted by well-known musicians, shines a light on lesser-known musicians3.

Location and Dates

The festival takes place in the lively Temple Bar area from 25th to 29th January. It turns the area into a cultural wonderland. Each day is filled with music and historic charm4.

small festivals Ireland

Why You Should Attend

More than just music, the Tradfest creates unforgettable experiences. Its venues are steeped in Irish culture, making performances truly special. With events in small pubs and large venues, every show feels unique3.

It’s well-loved by musicians like Declan O’Rourke and Joanie Madden. This shows its amazing atmosphere. For anyone, local or from afar, the Tradfest offers a genuine taste of Irish music. It’s a top choice for fans of traditional Irish music and exclusive festivals34.

Dublin Film Festival

The Dublin Film Festival runs from February 22nd to March 2nd. It’s a key event for the Irish film scene, drawing in filmmakers and fans from around the globe5. It highlights Dublin’s role as a top place for films, blending mainstream hits with indie gems.

Popular Films Showcased

Next year’s fest will have over 120 films, from beloved Irish works to global cinema5. You can see documentaries, short films, and long dramas, all showing varied global stories. The event makes small festival Ireland shine, showing memorable films that touch the heart of the audience.

Celebrity Guests

Throughout its history, the festival welcomed over 600 famous faces like Al Pacino and Angela Lansbury6. This trend continues, with big names from the movie world joining this year’s party. Their visits not only make the festival a hotspot but also open doors for new filmmakers.

Special Screenings and Events

Besides film shows, there are 16 public events, 15 for industry folk, and 40 chances to ask questions after films6. These special meet-ups give an inside look at how favourite movies were made. The Dublin Film Critics’ Circle Awards honour the best in film, while the Audience Award lets viewers pick their favourite6. Talks and classes help grow new talent, fitting in with Ireland’s other small festivals that value learning and creativity.

Irish film industry

The Dublin Film Festival is more than a show. It’s a party for the Irish film world, welcoming everyone to share in the love of movies and stories. With something for every film fan, it’s a highlight for those who celebrate film and its cultural impact5.

St Patrick’s Day in Ireland

St Patrick’s Day is famous all over the world. It falls on the 17th of March each year in Ireland. People join celebrations full of fun, music, and dance. Dublin, the capital, becomes very lively with a big festival for five days. The festival ends with a huge street party on the 17th7. This year is extra special because it’s the first big event since COVID-19 started8. Around 500,000 visitors are expected to watch the parade in Dublin8.

Irish cultural events

Parade Highlights

The Dublin parade is a must-see. It’s full of colour and energy with lots to watch. There are impressive floats, bands, and performances. In Cork City, their parade stands out. It has lots of bands, dancers, and shows7. Even smaller places like Wicklow and Killarney have lively parades. They are very attractive to both local people and tourists7.

Traditional Irish Activities

There are many traditional activities on St Patrick’s Day. In rural areas, people enjoy music, dance, horse races, and sports matches8. Tullamore has a special five-day festival, Seachtain na Gaeilge. They focus on Irish food, music, and songs7. Kiltimagh has fun events related to the parade, including music and art7.

Best Places to Celebrate

Dublin’s celebrations are hard to beat, but there are other great places too. Limerick City has a special festival for the whole family. It also has a band festival7. Belfast has a lively parade with music. There’s a big concert in Custom House Square too7. For something more personal, you can visit smaller parades in places like Downpatrick and Armagh. They let you really feel the Irish spirit7.

Galway Food Festival

The Galway Food Festival is a big celebration of Ireland’s food traditions. It happens every year from the 6th to 10th of April. People who love local Irish food and food festivals must go here. It’s part of the ‘Blas Na Gaillimhe – A Taste of Galway’ group, showing off the best local foods and gourmet fun9.

Galway Food Festival culinary festivals

Gourmet Experiences

The festival is known for its many gourmet food events. In 2024, expect to try Brazilian food, oysters, and learn how to make pasta. There will also be cheese and wine tasting sessions9. These activities are a chance to enjoy and learn about unique foods.

Cooking Demonstrations

A special part of the festival is the cooking shows by top chefs. They help people understand more about the food they eat and how it connects to culture9. There are talks, workshops, and cooking classes for adults. And fun things to do for children, too9. It’s a fun way to learn about Irish food and celebrate its traditions.

Local Specialities

At the festival, you can enjoy many local foods. Try freshly shucked oysters or taste handmade cheeses. There are over 100 places to get food from the city and its surrounds9. More than 70,000 people come every year9. It’s a big event that brings food lovers together and shows off Galway’s amazing foods.

Fleadh Nua

Fleadh Nua shines a light on Irish music and culture. It runs from May 25 to June 3 in Ennis, County Clare. This yearly event is full of joy and is open to anyone10. It brings families together to share in the deep traditions of Ireland.

traditional Irish festivals

Musical Performances

Ireland’s music festivals, like Fleadh Nua, offer a mix of styles. Ennis comes alive for ten days with amazing live acts. You’ll find solo performers, bands, and orchestras, catering to all tastes10.

Cultural Significance

Fleadh Nua goes beyond fun; it’s key to keeping Irish music alive. It’s a big deal for Ireland. Everything, from the shows to the events, celebrates Irish music. This helps ensure it continues for many more years10.

Family-Friendly Activities

There’s more than music at Fleadh Nua. It’s packed with things for the whole family to enjoy. Workshops, street shows, and more are there for everyone to have fun and learn. It’s a top cultural event on Ireland’s calendar10.

Cork Summer Festival

The Cork Summer Festival runs from the 14th to the 25th of June. It’s a time when Ireland’s vibrant culture comes alive. The event fills the area near the River Lee with art, theatre, dance and more.

summer arts festivals

This festival gathers artists from both near and far. It combines local and international talents. This mix celebrates both modern and traditional arts, showing different cultures’ beauty.

Cork also hosts big events in June and July. For example, the Doneraile Arts Festival is from 29th June to 2nd July11. The Clonakilty Old Time Fair happens on July 1st11. These events, along with others like the Literary Festival, make summer in Cork a time of great creativity.

In late July and early August, Cork is still full of life. The Cork Pride Festival starts on the 30th, followed by the Indiependence Music Festival. These lead up to the Cork on a Fork Food Festival from the 16th to the 20th11, offering delicious food and more celebrations.

Cork Summer Festival14th – 25th June
Doneraile Arts Festival29th June – 2nd July
Clonakilty Old Time Fair1st July
Kinsale Arts Weekend6th – 9th July
West Cork Literary Festival7th – 14th July
Cork Cycling Weekend28th – 30th July
Cork Pride Festival30th July – 6th August
Indiependence Music Festival4th – 6th August
Cork on a Fork Food Festival16th – 20th August

For more on these festivals and art happenings in Cork, check this page.

Galway Arts Festival

The Galway Arts Festival runs from 17th to 30th July and is greatly looked forward to in Ireland. It draws talented performers and artists from all over the world to Galway City. The festival presents a range of theatre shows, art displays, and live performances. This makes the city shine bright with creative energy.

International Performers

The festival is known for hosting many international performers. In 2024, musicians like Passenger, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Annie Mac, and Gavin James will join. They add their exceptional skills to the lively cultural mix12. The event’s varied line-up brings together artists both local and global. This helps create a vibrant atmosphere for sharing artistic ideas.

Art Exhibitions

The art exhibitions stand out as extraordinary every year. In 2024, you can see works by famous artists like Patricia Piccinini and Miriam de Búrca. It’s a unique chance to see stunning art that explores various themes and media12. These exhibitions capture the true spirit of creativity and show the world the innovation of artists everywhere. Thus, they are key to the festival’s cultural significance.

Theatre Productions

The theatre shows are a big draw at the Galway International Arts Festival. In 2024, seven new shows will premiere, including ‘Reunion’ by Mark O’Rowe and ‘Endgame’ by Druid Theatre Co. They tell powerful stories and offer groundbreaking performances12. Additionally, you’ll find many other well-chosen theatre events. These events not only share Irish and international culture but also show the festival’s support for new and inspiring work.

There’s more than just art and theatre at the festival. Don’t miss the Street Spectacle and Performance, which includes unique shows like Planet Vapeur’s ‘Pegasus’ and Guru Duru’s Silent Disco Walking Tours12. This diverse range of shows makes the Galway International Arts Festival a celebration of cultural variety and top artistic talent. It is firmly embedded in Ireland’s rich social and cultural scene.

Best Festivals Ireland: An Overview

Ireland is full of unique festivals for everyone. They range from small boutique ones to big cultural affairs. The St. Patrick’s Festival is a key event, bringing together 80 million people every year. This makes it one of Ireland’s biggest local celebrations13. Another major festival is the Dublin International Film Festival. Since 2003, it has showcased over 1,500 films. This shows just how vibrant Ireland’s film scene is13.

unique festivals

If you love music, check out the Ortús Chamber Music Festival in Cork. It’s been running since 2016. There, you can enjoy top-notch performances in an intimate setting13. The Cúirt International Festival of Literature in Galway is one of Europe’s oldest book festivals. It brings together literary stars from everywhere. So, it’s a cultural highlight13. Also, don’t miss the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast. It hosts 150 events each year, filled with performances and exhibitions13.

For those into dance, the Dublin Dance Festival is a must-see each May. It even has a virtual component now. This lets more people enjoy the beauty of dance13. The Bloomsday Festival in Dublin honours James Joyce’s “Ulysses” every June 16th. It blends literary culture with lively city events13. The Galway Early Music Festival showcases music and dance from the 12th to 17th centuries. It’s a rare glimpse into the past13.

Foodies will love the Taste of Dublin. It’s a food and drink festival that presents Ireland’s culinary scene. You can meet famous cooks, discover artisanal products, and join cooking classes13. The Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride brings people together during Pride Month in June. It’s all about celebrating diversity and including everyone13. The Cork Midsummer Festival is a key arts celebration in Cork. It adds further layers to Ireland’s rich cultural mix13.

The festival scene in Ireland is truly vibrant and varied. Whether you enjoy the community vibes of St. Patrick’s Day, the creative surge of arts events, or something more specific, Ireland has it. The mix of unique and local festivals offers something interesting all year round. With so many varied events, Ireland truly shines as a cultural hotspot.

Discover more about Ireland’s best festivals here

National Ploughing Championships

The National Ploughing Championships take place from 19th to 21st September. They showcase Ireland’s farming skills. This event is one of the biggest outdoor festivals in Europe, mixing old traditions with new ideas14.

Agricultural Exhibitions

With over 1,400 exhibitors, this festival is huge. It shows the latest in farming and country life14. You can see advanced farming tools, methods, and crops. It proves how smart and hardworking the Irish are in farming15.

Live Demonstrations

The festival is famous for its live events. It includes both old and new farming shows. This includes ploughing matches. These contests started in 1931 between County Wexford and County Kildare. They show Ireland’s deep farming history14. More than 330 people take part over three days15.

unique festivals

Visitor Experiences

For anyone visiting, this festival gives a special experience16. It draws over 300,000 people each year. This makes it a big part of Ireland’s culture and social life. It offers a lively mix of shows, events, and fun, outgrowing even the Electric Picnic festival14.

This festival is our pride. It not only marks our farming history but also connects people worldwide. It’s a chance to see and learn about rural Ireland’s past and future. The National Ploughing Championships truly represent Ireland’s farming heart and its strong community feeling.

National Ploughing Championships300,0001,400330+

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival

The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival takes place in the lovely town of Lisdoonvarna during September17. This event has a 165-year history making it Europe’s top singles event1718. Even though Lisdoonvarna is a small town, about 40,000 people come here in hopes of finding love17.

There are lots of things to do at the festival like Irish dances, speed dating, and horse racing17. Willie Daly is Ireland’s only traditional matchmaker and has matched 3,000 couples in the last 50 years1819.

It all happens at the Hydro Hotel, which is the heart of the festival’s music and dance scene18. You can find music and dancing for all ages and tastes18. The festival even includes a weekend for the LGBTQ+ community called The Outing, on September 27 – 2819.

Since all the venues are close, it’s easy to take in everything the festival offers18. You can join in contests, enjoy local food, and more. The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival celebrates Irish culture and the matchmaking tradition beautifully1718.

Waterford Film Festival

The Waterford Film Festival takes place from the 20th to the 26th of November 2023. It’s a big deal for independent films in Ireland2021. The event helps local, national, and international filmmakers. It gives them a stage to display their stories. This includes new talents and experienced directors20.

Movies made from January 2022 onwards can enter, as long as they’re under 20 minutes long, credits not included2221. This shows the festival’s love for all types of film genres. They even have a Short Screenplay Competition. It’s for scripts in English, three to fifteen pages long, and in PDF or Word22. About 20 people will get to the finals, and they’ll know by October 28th22. The best short film wins a special Waterford Crystal and cash, plus other prizes21.

The festival has both in-person and online showings. This way, it ties in with Waterford City but also reaches more people2021. It’s a great chance for filmmakers and fans to come together. They talk about indie films and culture20. To enter the Photography Competition, there’s a form and fee required22. The event also has areas for the Best Music Video, Best Animation, and Best Cinematic Image. It’s all about different ways to tell stories visually20.

The Waterford Film Festival doesn’t offer money for showing films or take care of copyright for music and content2221. But, it’s a place for rich cultural experiences. That shows the value of film festivals in Ireland222021.

New Year Festival Dublin

The New Year Festival Dublin brings a mix of events to life. It welcomes a diverse cultural range in Ireland, with fireworks, music, and fun activities. Join in the festive spirit across four days at various venues, creating a magical setting for New Year.

Fireworks Display

The heart of the festivity is the fireworks against Dublin’s historic sites. It’s a must-see for all, making the celebrations glow with joy.

Music Concerts

Over four days, more than 40 acts will play at places like Dublin Castle and Meeting House Square23. From 30 December to 1 January23, enjoy The Divine Comedy, The Scratch, and others at Dublin Castle23. Additionally, there’ll be live music at the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks24.

Family Activities

Family fun is a big part of the Festival. Join free events at Dublin Castle and Meeting House Square and enjoy music from Jerry Fish and Dublin Gospel Choir24. Have a special New Year’s Day with coastal walks or museum visits24.

Entry prices range from €7.90 for family events to €49.90 for big shows24. Some tickets are sold out, so book early23. It all guarantees a fantastic start of the year with joy and culture2324.


Ireland is full of rich cultural experiences with its many festivals. These events welcome everyone, from the Galway International Arts Festival to the Dublin Theatre Festival. The Rose of Tralee Festival is another great example2526. They show Ireland’s commitment to its heritage.

There is a lot of variety, like the Longitude Festival for young music lovers. Or the Body and Soul Festival that creates an intimate space25. Ireland also hosts the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival and the Bealtaine Festival for older adults. This shows how Ireland invites everyone to join cultural celebrations2527.

Every place in Ireland, from big cities to small villages, celebrates with local festivals. Events like the Dublin Pride Festival bring people together for a great cause25. These celebrations are not just big; they create strong bonds and memories. Take the Fleádh Cheoil na hÉireann, for example, which brings a quarter of a million people together each year26. When the festivities end, the spirit of Ireland stays in the hearts of its people.


What are some of the best festivals in Ireland?

In Ireland, top festivals are the Temple Bar Tradfest, Dublin Film Festival, and St. Patrick’s Day. Also, the Galway Food Festival, Fleadh Nua, Cork Summer Festival, and the National Ploughing Championships. Don’t forget the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking and Waterford Film Festival. And, last but not least, the New Year Festival Dublin.

What makes the Temple Bar Tradfest special?

The Temple Bar Tradfest shines with its traditional Irish music focus. Located in Dublin’s Temple Bar area, it brings an authentic music vibe. It’s loved by music fans worldwide.

When does the Dublin Film Festival take place?

The Dublin Film Festival runs from February 23rd to March 4th each year.

What can I expect at the Galway Food Festival?

The Galway Food Festival is a treat for foodies. It has gourmet dishes, chef demos, and local favourites like cheeses. Plus, you’ll find the freshest oysters.

What kinds of performances are featured at Fleadh Nua?

Fleadh Nua showcases Irish music and culture with music, dance, and céilís. It’s fun for families and those who love traditional music.

What is the Cork Summer Festival known for?

The Cork Summer Festival is rich with art and cultural activities. It brings theatre, dance, and the visual arts. It happens by Cork’s beautiful River Lee.

How does the Galway Arts Festival stand out?

The Galway Arts Festival attracts artists from around the world. It offers art exhibitions, theatre, and other shows. Each July, it makes Galway City a creative place.

What makes the National Ploughing Championships unique?

The National Ploughing Championships highlight Ireland’s farming history. It has exhibitions, live demos, making it Europe’s biggest outdoor farm show.

What activities can I find at the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival?

The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival has Irish music and dance. Plus, it’s famous for matchmaking. It’s also open to everyone, with an LGBT-friendly weekend.

What is showcased at the Waterford Film Festival?

The Waterford Film Festival highlights indie films. It’s a stage for new and expert filmmakers. The festival tells various stories through film.

What events are included in the New Year Festival Dublin?

On New Year, Dublin bursts with a fireworks show and music concerts. It also offers family activities. It’s a fun way for all ages to start the year.

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Healing Spirit festival takes place at Drummany Spirit, Milltown, Cavan, Ireland on the 4rd to 5th August 2024. Our festival is run by our small community group, Drummany Spirit, is family and child friendly and is alcohol and drug free. This boutique festival features a large lineup of live music, plus a large array of holistic events and practices including sweat lodges, yoga classes, movement meditation (ecstatic dance), pranayama/breathwork, meditation; plus alternative healing and therapies, crafts, art, drumming circles and talks by leading authorities on personal and spiritual growth, sustainability, conscious living, and healing.

We are set on beautiful sacred land overlooking Lough Oughter in Cavan. Drummany Spirit is a community group which hosts the festival each year. 2024 is our third year running the festival and it's been a major success so far with new friends from across Ireland and abroad attending. You can see the festival lineup here, see photos from previous years here and you can get tickets here (note: the festival has very limited capacity and is almost sold out) .