From the quintessentially Irish to the quirky and the downright unforgettable, Ireland’s festivals bring fun, laughter, good times and great memories.
Among the key dates to look out for this summer is the Galway International Arts Festival (11 – 24 July), which has been described as “the biggest, most exciting, most imaginative explosion of arts activity” on the island of Ireland. This year it features artists from Africa, America, Asia, Australia, Europe, and of course Ireland and Galway, in a major programme of theatre, music, comedy, visual art, dance, and literary events.
There will be concerts from the likes of the Pixies, The Flaming Lips and The Stunning, with theatrical highlights including a production of Sam Shepard’s True West, by the Chicago based Steppenwolf Company. Among the many other events is ‘Lifeline’, an ambitious project from Galway’s time as a European Capital of Culture, which will see 150 locals perform on a high wire over the River Corrib.
For a taste the salt air, try Derry-Londonderry’s magical Foyle Maritime Festival (20 – 24 July), where Northern Ireland’s famous Walled City will welcome the sailors taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Look out for street theatre, firework displays, water activities and delicious foodie delights aplenty. Surrounded by the fascinating history of the city walls and a fleet of 70-foot ocean liners, this is a festival that you’ll have to make room in your schedule for.
Held on the stunning Causeway Coastal Route and surrounding areas in Northern Ireland, SuperCup NI (24 – 29 July) is a world-renowned international youth football tournament. With teams from Mexico, Bermuda and the English Premier League, including Man Utd, taking part, it offers a unique opportunity for fans to spot some of soccer’s most promising talent and future stars in the making.
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (Music Festival of Ireland) is the biggest traditional Irish music festival on the planet. This year it takes place in Mullingar, County Westmeath, in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands (31 July – 7 August). The week-long jamboree of Irish music, song and dance, not to mention late nights and family fun, is the ultimate summer highlight for music fans and culture seekers alike.
Set in buzzing Belfast, the August Féile (4 – 14 August) is part of Féile an Phobail, the island's largest community festival. A celebration of diversity, passion and creativity, it draws people from around the world to west Belfast. Head here to see the carnival parade on Saturday 6 August, and to take in concerts, comedy, talks, tours, theatre, debate, family, and above all, great community craic.