Come for the music, come for the dance; come for the drink or the sweet romance…there’s plenty of reasons to make Ireland the destination for your holiday, and with its beautiful landscapes, affordable prices and welcoming, lively people, there’s little chance of going back without great memories.
Summer Festivals in Ireland
Ireland in summer is a lovely place. The fields are green, the people are out enjoying the sunshine, the pubs filled with music and laughter, and even the crowds of camera-clicking tourists swarming around the West Country can’t take away the essential charm and beauty of the Irish landscape. In the warm days of late summer, there are many things to enjoy in Ireland, but one of the easiest – and most enjoyable – ways to get into the swing of life in the Emerald Isle is to join in the celebrations as the cities of Ireland hold their numerous summer festivals.
Dublin’s Diversions Festival
The easiest place to start a holiday in Ireland is its lovely capital city, Dublin – and quite coincidentally, throughout the late summer, that’s exactly where a major festival will take place! The event in question is the Diversions, one of the country’s most spectacular festivals, when outdoor circus acts from around the world temporarily transform the Temple Bar district into a massive theme park.
Most of the family-friendly fun takes place around Wolfe Tone Park and Meeting House Square, where you’ll find everything from limb-bending acrobatics to wow a bored teenager, to face-painting competitions suitable for a ten-year-old. For the older crowd, there’s plenty of as live music performances, comedy shows and edgy film exhibitions, well as street theatre action worthy of a Big Top, complete with clowns, fire-eaters, trapeze artists, jugglers, tumblers, knife-swallowers. In short, be prepared to see the weird, wild and wonderful from 8 July to 27 August!
The Galway Oyster Festival
Another of Ireland’s biggest events takes place in Galway, a charming holiday resort city in the West of Ireland. During the last week of July, Galway stages its annual Galway Oyster Festival, which celebrates the city’s most popular – and delicious – product: the incomparable Galway oyster, which is famed for its size, texture and taste. Even if you don’t care for oysters, the Oyster Festival is a great way to have fun. The organizers tout it as the biggest party in the West, and the Sunday Times of London consider it one of the 12 greatest shows on Earth. If that’s not impressive enough, the Festival draws over 10,000 gourmands to the city every year with its winning combination of oysters, Guinness and live entertainments.
The most anticipated event of the Festival is the traditional Guinness Oyster Opening Championship, which usually involves about 20 contestants, 30 oysters per contestant and a timer. The fun is in the suspense of seeing just how fast the contestants can shuck the oysters with an extremely sharp knife – bloodletting is not uncommon. The record is still held by Irishman Willie Morans, who opened 30 oysters in an amazing 1 minute, 31 seconds!
For those less interested in prying open bivalves, there’s also the Pearl Contest, when the loveliest lady in Galway is chosen to be Festival Pearl, and the grand Festival Gala Ball, where black tie, music, dance, and oysters mix together in a party that becomes steadily less formal as the night wears on. And since the Festival’s sponsor is Guinness (as it has been since the very first festival in 1954), there’s plenty of the wonderful black stuff to go around during the festival!
Kilkenny Arts Festival
If your holiday takes you near the beautiful medieval city of Kilkenny, then you may want to stop by the city in the first week of August to take in the Kilkenny Arts Festival, one of its biggest annual celebrations. Now in its 32nd year, the festival is one of the best arts and culture festivals in Ireland, and if that seems like a boast, well the over 70,000 people who come for the festival each year can’t all be wrong! For ten days in August, you can listen to classical music performances in the Kilkenny Castle; laugh at the antics of street theatre performers in the city streets; contemplate the art pieces on display in the Butler House; and much more besides.
The Dublin Diversions, Galway Oyster festival and the Kilkenny Arts Festival are only three of the biggest festivals to take place in the next two months. There are plenty of other events taking place around Ireland during the late summer – the Galway Races, the Comedy On Tap Festival in Donegal, the Wicklow Regatta, Waterford’s Spraoi and much more. If you’re in any of these cities in the next few months, just keep an eye out for the events listing in the newspapers, or consult the events calendar in the city’s Tourist Office, to find out more about what’s happening at your holiday destination – and be prepared for some rocking good fun!
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