24 May 2023
The island of Ireland’s summer festivals are joyful celebrations of literature, art, music, dance, theatre and more.
In May, June and July, the island of Ireland is awash with wonderful arts and culture festivals. Here are 11 to add to your to-do list.
BlueGrass Omagh (26–28 May)
One of the largest bluegrass events outside of North America, BlueGrass Omagh is a celebration of the music that was forged in the melting pot of North America. Set in the unique surroundings of the Ulster American Folk Park, the festival pays homage to the heritage of the emigrants from Ulster who settled in Appalachia and whose music influenced the evolution of bluegrass.
Listowel Writers Week (31 May–4 June)
Ireland’s oldest literary and arts festival brings together writers, artists and poets in the beautiful heritage town of Listowel, County Kerry. With a mix of creative writing workshops, poetry readings, guided literary tours, book launches and talks by renowned literary figures, there is something for both experienced writers and those seeking to advance their skills.
Rory Gallagher International Festival, Donegal (1–4 June)
Ballyshannon on the Wild Atlantic Way, where Rory Gallagher was born, proudly stages this international tribute festival every year to celebrate the music of one of the world’s greatest guitarists. With 25 hours of free open-air concerts, guitar workshops and exhibitions as well as big top gigs, the festival is a don’t miss destination for Rory fans.
Belsonic, Belfast (3–30 June)
Featuring some of the world’s top bands and singers, Belsonic is Belfast’s big summer music bash. This year’s headliners include superstar veterans Tom Jones and Lionel Richie, as well as chart toppers Lizzo, George Ezra, Sam Fender, Paolo Nutini, Florence and the Machine, The Prodigy, Ben Nicky and David Guetta.
Cork Midsummer Festival (14–25 June)
Cork city will stage an exhilarating mix of theatrical performances, art installations, music, dance, circus, spectacle and street arts events in its Midsummer Festival. Featuring some of Ireland’s most exciting artists, award-winning international companies and emerging talent, this playful festival also encourages public participation.
The Big top, Sea Sessions, Music Festival, Bundoran Co Donegal.
West Cork Chamber Music Festival (23 June–2 July)
One of the leading chamber music events in Europe, the festival attracts an international line-up of musicians. This year’s festival is headlined by four outstanding violinists: Alina Ibragimova, Viviane Hagner, Nurit Stark and Mairéad Hickey. With six concerts a day and a multitude of masterclasses it’s a delight for chamber music aficionados.
Stendhal Festival, Limavady (6–8 July)
Stendhal is an independent music and arts festival set on a farm along the gorgeous Causeway Coast. Organised and run by local volunteers, the festival presents music, comedy, poetry, visual arts and a dedicated family programme. Highlights this year include Bob Marley’s legendary band The Wailers, Mercury Music Prize-nominated Turin Brakes and Irish singer Cara Dillon.
Earagail Arts Festival, Donegal (8–23 July)
A bilingual (Irish and English) festival set on the spectacular Wild Atlantic Way in County Donegal, Earagail Arts Festival presents music, theatre, visual arts, film, literature, circus and carnival events. Traditional Irish music features strongly but innovative live performances of acrobatics and physical comedy also abound.
Galway Film Fleadh (11–16 July)
This week-long international film festival is a platform for the boldest new films making it the perfect destination for cinephiles. Taking place in Galway city, a UNESCO City of Film, it brings together industry professionals, new talent and experienced filmmakers to share their experience as well as screening over 100 movies and shorts from around the world.
Sea Sessions, Donegal (16–18 July)
Ireland’s surf capital, Bundoran, is the setting for this dynamic music festival where waves provide the background beat to the performances on the beach. As well as a packed programme of music events, there will be surfing competitions, beach rugby and soccer events and beach yoga.
Galway International Arts Festival (17–30 July)
Theatre, music, comedy, visual art, dance, and literary events performed by artists from Ireland and around the world make up this fabulous festival programme. It’s one of highlights of the festival calendar and will include music performances by Kaiser Chiefs and The Coronas and theatrical performances by world-renowned Steppenwolf.
Stendhal Music Festival, Limavady, Co. Londonderry.
Bluegrass Festival, Ulster American Folk Park, Co. Tyrone.
Galway International Arts Festival, Galway City.
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