Ireland's Main Festivals and Events A Tour of Ireland's Calendar from CarHire.ie
If you're planning to visit Ireland and hire a car, why not travel to one of the country's annual festivals or events? We have put together a quick reference guide to some of the main recurring highlights on the Irish calendar - but there are many more events and festivals taking place throughout the country. You can get more information on what events are taking place in the area you intend to visit by contacting the tourist office in that area. Contact details are given at the bottom of this page. Note that exact dates of annual festivals and events vary from year to year so, again, it's best to check with the relevant tourist office or research the web to confirm.
St. Patrick's Day (Nationwide): March 17th
St. Patrick's Day is Ireland's national holiday, held in honour of its patron saint, who is believed to have introduced Christianity to the island. Most of Ireland's towns hold street parades on St. Patrick's Day, and the occasion is usually colourful, with lots painted faces, funny green hats and bouncy shamrocks.
St. Patrick's Day Festival (Dublin): Week including March 17th In Dublin, the St. Patrick's Festival is an even larger affair, usually lasting around four days, including March 17th and the weekend before or after it. Events and activities in the festival typically include live music, street theatre, fireworks and dance, treasure hunts, visual art exhibitions and the city's own St. Patrick's Day Parade, the largest in the country.
Cat Laughs Comedy Festival: Kilkenny
The Murphy's Cat Laughs Comedy Festival is held in Kilkenny, usually over the June Bank Holiday Weekend. The festival features the world's top stand-up comedians. Previous performers have included Emo Philips, Zach Galifianakis, Des Bishop, Maria Bamford, Phil Kay, Tommy Tiernan and Ardal O' Hanlon.
Galway Arts Festival & Race Festival
Mid July to Early August The Galway Arts Festival is a vibrant and lively two-week celebration of the international arts scene, particularly the performing and visual arts. The festival is awash with live gigs, theatre performances, art exhibitions and fun street activities. Many visitors come for the equally lively nighttime scene, where the "craic" in the pubs is "mighty".
The streets stay swollen for a further week (late July/early August) when what seems like the entire population of Ireland wades through the city streets between bouts of attendance at the weeklong horse racing meeting known simply as "The Galway Races".
Rose of Tralee Festival, Co. Kerry: Late August
The Rose of Tralee Festival is a much beloved festival that takes place around what can best by described as a "personality competition". Young women ("roses") of Irish birth or ancestry vie for selection for the coveted title of "Rose of Tralee".
Galway Oyster Festival: Late September
The Galway Oyster Festival is a unique event that celebrates the aphrodisiac qualities of this gourmet seafood - though amourous feelings or the stout used to wash the oysters down! The oyster festival delivers non-stop, world-class entertainment in a charming setting.
Dublin Theatre Festival: Late September/Early October
The Dublin Theatre Festival showcases the best of Irish and international theatre, with a lively Fringe Festival for smaller events. Renowned for over a century for the high quality of their players, Dublin's theatres feature the finest stage drama that theatre buffs will not want to miss.
Wexford Opera Festival: Mid-Late October
For over 50 years, this small Irish coastal town has made a huge splash in the international opera scene with its warm and wonderful productions of unique, rare opera.
Cork Jazz Festival: Late October
Held on the last weekend in October (a bank holiday weekend in Ireland), the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival is by far the largest and most important event on the Irish jazz calendar. The Festival typically hosts over 1000 musicians, who range from many different countries around the world, and entertain visitors in over 75 popular city venues.
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