Whether it be music, film, art, comedy or something else entirely, Ireland boasts a truly brilliant array of festivals.
A look at the best festivals around Ireland, from music and art to food, literature and more.
May 24-26, Belvedere House and Gardens, Co. Westmeath life-festival.com
Ireland’s most revered electronic music festival, Life originated from the Glade Arena at Glastonbury, and became an event in its own right in 2004. Every year since, it has grown to become Ireland’s most anticipated dance music shindig. Previous venues have included Charleville Castle, Ballinlough Castle and Lough Cutra Castle, but the beautiful environs of Belvedere House – where the festival currently takes place – offer the perfect naturalistic escape. Highlights this year include Belfast house duo Bicep, American DJ MK, road rap artist Giggs, and many more of Ireland’s nest techno, house and dance acts.
June 1–3, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin forbiddenfruit.ie
Returning for its ninth installment, Forbidden Fruit’s 2019 line-up is again hugely impressive in its eclecticism. This year’s headliners include UK grime godfather Skepta; English indie legends Elbow; electronic artist Mura Masa; and German producer Paul Kalkbrenner. If that isn’t varied enough for you, the bill also includes the likes of electronic maverick Jon Hopkins; folkcountry singers First Aid Kit; rappers Earl Sweatshirt and Danny Brown; and a huge contingent of top Irish artists – such as Saint Sister, Kojaque, Daithi and Pillow Queens. Located in the beautiful grounds of the Royal Kilmainham Hospital, Forbidden Fruit has become an established part of Dublin’s summer and is always a treat.
DOOLIN FOLK FESTIVAL June 14–16
Doolin, Co. Clare doolinfolkfestival.com Doolin Folk Festival presents excellent music in an intimate setting. While details of the 2019 line-up are yet to be announced, those lucky enough to attend last year were treated to memorable performances from the likes of Lankum, Martin Hayes, Paul Brady, Moxie and Le Galaxie. For good measure, Doolin – situated between the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren and the Aran Islands – truly gives visitors a taste of the Wild Atlantic Way.
June 12-28, Ormeau Park, Belfast belsonic.com
Since moving from its original home in Belfast’s Custom
House Square to the more accommodating Ormeau Park gardens on the edge of the city, the annual Belsonic festival has bagged some seriously big headliners in recent years. 2018’s line-up featured Irish pop-rock stars Picture This, dance legend Carl Cox, and stadium-rockers The Script. This year, Bray troubadour Hozier, Guns N’Roses guitarist Slash, dance maestro Tiesto, and grime breakout star Stormy will all be on the bill. Once again, all the gigs for 2019 will take place throughout one exciting two-week period. Make no mistake, there’ll be a party atmosphere in south Belfast come June time…
June 21 – 23, Ballinlough Castle, Co. Meath bodyandsoul.ie
Famed for bringing great music to a stunning setting, Body & Soul is now a rm xture on the Irish festival calendar, with diehards consistently saving the summer solstice weekend for a trip to Ballinlough. This year, the bash is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Woodlands, walled gardens and an enchanting lake serve as the backdrop for a festival where glittering latenight discos, bespoke art trails and soothing wood- red hot tubs all come as standard. And that’s before even mentioning the fantastic line-up. For 2019,
highlights include music and video duo The Blaze, electronic duo Modeselektor, and American alternative singer-songwriter Santigold. There’ll also be the usual contingent of Ireland’s nest, including Talos, Soak, and more.
July 5 – 7, Marlay Park, Dublin
Always a fantastic event with a great atmosphere, Longitude is back this July with another brilliant bill. Similar to last year, this summer’s line-up will focus on hip-hop and R&B, with the festival headlined by three of the biggest names in rap. A$AP Rocky is the star attraction on Friday, while Chance The Rapper headlines on Saturday, and
Cardi B and Future take over on Sunday. But there is stunning talent right down the bill. The likes of AJ Tracey, Brockhampton, Flatbush Zombies, Lil Uzi Vert, Vince Staples, and even Dublin favourites Versatile will perform throughout the weekend. Once again, we’re expecting a massive party in Rathfarnham.
August 2– 5, Deer Farm, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork indiependencefestival.com
Indie 19 sticks with tradition by providing a platform for fantastic homegrown talent, with Gavin James, All Tvvins, Wild Youth and Le Boom all on the bill. Among those helping them out will be much-loved Scottish singer-songwriter
Lewis Capaldi, indie-pop quartet Bastille, rock heroes Cat sh and the Bottlemen, and Scottish legends Biffy Clyro. There’ll also be the usual up-and-coming talents from the local Cork scene getting their rst taste of the festival experience.
ALL TOGETHER NOW
August 3-5, Curraghmore House, Co. Waterford alltogethernow.ie
Having proved a phenomenal hit in its rst year, All Together Now is back for a second outing. Earning its place at the forefront of the Irish festival circuit within the space of 12 months, this three-day event gained widespread acclaim for its beautiful setting, friendly atmosphere, and brilliantly curated line-up. 2019’s edition is set to be no different, with the line-up boasting such heavyhitters as The National, Patti Smith, Hot Chip and Father
John Mist. There will also be a huge whack of top-notch Irish artists on the bill, including
Lisa Hannigan, Little Green
Cars, Fontaines DC, The Murder Capital, Just Mustard, King Kong Company and many, many more.
August 31 – September 2, Stradbally Hall, Co. Laois electricpicnic.ie
The premier event of the Irish festival calendar, Electric Picnic returns for its 16th year. As ever, there’s a mouthwatering bill on offer, with The Strokes, Florence And The Machine, Hozier and The 1975 acting as headliners, and the likes of Christine And The Queens, Dermot Kennedy, Michael Kiwanuka, Four Tet, Roisin Murphy and Jarvis Cocker adding to the Stradbally action. Throw in the usual array of extracurricular activities – including Mind eld, Body & Soul, the comedy stage and the Theatre Of Food – and you have one of the most unmissable weekends of the year.
CITY OF DERRY JAZZ FESTIVAL May 2-6, Various Venues cityofderryjazzfestival.com
Jazz a cionados are in for a serious treat on the May bank holiday weekend, with the City Of Derry Jazz Festival offering a feast of musical action. Headlined by Soft Cell legend Marc Almond, the event also boasts appearances from the likes of Kitty LaRoar, Mr. Wilson’s Second Liners, Jumpin Up!, Jive Aces, Kaz Hawkins and more. With more than 70,000 revellers set to attend, it should be a cracking weekend Foyleside.
June 2 – 3, T13 Titanic Warehouse, Belfast avafestival.com
Belfast’ss largest audio/visual
festival is celebrating its fth year in 2019, bringing global heavyweights to the city, whilst championing emerging and established artists from the north and south of Ireland. Taking place in the venue of S13 Warehouse (which has become a haven for techno/house acts in the city), headliners include the likes of Avalon Emerson,
Ben Sims, Ben UFO, The Black Madonna and Honey Dijon. On top of that, there’ll be a host of Ireland’s nest dance acts, including Brahm & Hamo, Brien, Krystal Klear, Saoirse, R. Kitt, Or:La and dozens more.
June 3 – 4, Beaulieu House, Drogheda vantastival.com
Continually providing a huge service to campervan lovers throughout Ireland, Vantastival is celebrating its
10th anniversary this summer. Nestled in the Cooley Mountains, Beaulieu House offers a beautiful place to spend a fun- lled weekend. Vantastival prides itself on being a predominantly homegrown affair, and this year, the Volkswagen Main Stage will be headlined by Waterford dance act King Kong Company and
Afro Celt Sound System (which features famed artists like Simon Emmerson and Iarla Ó Lionáird). Also heading to Drogheda throughout the weekend are Sharon Shannon, Wallis Bird, Lisa O’Neill, David Keenan, We Cut Corners and more.
June 21 – 23, Bundoran, Co. Donegal seasessions.com
Known as Ireland’s biggest beach party, the Sea Sessions Surf & Music festival has been going strong for over 10 years now.
Set in the surfer’s paradise of Bundoran and surrounded by the stunning Atlantic coastline, Sea Sessions has cemented its reputation as one of the summer’s hottest tickets. This year’s line-up is most de nitely one to get excited about. Norwegian pop star Sigrid, electro-pop hitmakers Clean Bandit, and Bangor-made indierock band Two Door Cinema Club all feature as headliners, while the likes of The Sugarhill Gang, Jax Jones, Columbia Mills, Inhaler and many more superb Irish acts will play across the weekend.
ANOTHER LOVE STORY August 16-18, Killyon Manor, Co. Meath anotherlovestory.ie
A past winner of the IMRO Live Music Award for Best Small Festival, Another Love Story was rst conceived in 2014, and has spent the past ve years becoming one of the most favoured festivals by musicians and the public. The festival is a bespoke weekender of music, art, whimsy and fun, nestled in the glorious surrounds of Killyon Manor. The line-up announced so far features Christian Lof er (live), The Redneck Manifesto, Lubomyr, Maria Sommerville, and Glasshouse: The Music of Bon Iver. This truly is one of the most intimate and enjoyable festivals in Ireland.
KILKENNY CAT LAUGHS
May 31 – June 4, Various venues, Kilkenny thecatlaughs.com
Turning 25 this year (yes, it’s been a comedy xture for that long!), the celebrated Cat Laughs offers the very best in Irish and international talent. Dubbed the “best little comedy festival in the world”, 2019’s outing will feature another top-notch line-up. Shows announced so far include two ensemble performances, the rst featuring Dara Ó Briain, Ed Byrne, Rich Hall, Alison Spittle, with Barry Murphy as MC; the second boasting Tommy Tiernan, Alan Davies, David O’Doherty, Phil Jupitus, Adam Hills and Joanne McNally, with Karl
Spain on MC duties. Attracting in excess of 30,000 visitors to Kilkenny annually, Cat Laughs continues to be one of the cultural highlights of the Irish summer.
VODAFONE COMEDY FESTIVAL July (Exact Dates TBC), Iveagh Gardens, Dublin vodafone.ie
There’s probably no more idyllic a setting for a comedy festival than the city centre oasis of Dublin’s Iveagh Gardens. This riotous festival sees over 80 comedians taking to the stage over the course of three days. While the line-up for the 2019 festival has yet to be announced, last year featured Tommy Tiernan, David O’Doherty, Jason Byrne, Aisling Bea and Deirdre O’Kane, in addition to rising Irish comedic talents such as Danny O’Brien, Julie Jay, Aoife Dooley, Catherine Bohart, Davey Reilly, Ryan Cullen, Martin Angolo and Ashlee Bentley.
GALWAY FILM FLEADH July 9-14
Various locations, Galway
The Galway Film Fleadh is one of Ireland’s leading lm events, rst founded 30 years ago in Galway City. A six-day affair, it welcomes a huge range of people from around the world. The Fleadh prides itself on the fact that there are no red carpets here – they bring luminaries of the craft
and everyday cinephiles together in an intimate environment, with the aim of championing everyone’s shared passion for lm. The line-up for the 2019 Film Fleadh has yet to be announced, but considering this is their 30th anniversary, you can expect big things…
CATHEDRAL QUARTER ARTS FESTIVAL
May 2 – May 12
Cathedral Quarter, Belfast cqaf.com
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival has gained a reputation as one of the most vibrant and dynamic arts festivals on the island, with a broadranging programme that focuses on younger, less traditional artists, as well as music, comedy and literature. 2019’s line-up includes Patty Grif n, Echo & the Bunnymen, Lisa O’Neill, Marian Keyes, and much more besides.
LISTOWEL WRITERS’ WEEK May 29 – June 2
Listowel, Co. Kerry writersweek.ie
For more than three decades, the charming market town of Listowel has been home to one of the most respected literary gatherings in the world. Listowel Writers’ Week is renowned for bringing together local and international novelists, poets, and playwrights, and promoting interaction through Q&A sessions and workshops. Over the week, attendees can take part in events ranging from lectures, readings and book launches to seminars, interviews, theatre, literary and historical tours, art exhibitions and music. The full list of special guests for this year’s event is yet to be announced, but there will be workshops available from celebrated authors like Liz Nugent, Kit De Waal, Elizabeth Day and Lemn Sissay.
THE FESTIVAL OF
WRITING & IDEAS
June 7 – 9
Borris House & Village, Carlow festivalofwritingandideas.com
The Festival of Writing and Ideas brings some of the most fascinating minds from around the world to Carlow for one weekend of stimulating discourse each June. Although based primarily in the magni cent setting of Borris House, where visitors can enjoy a luxurious camping experience, the festival also spills out into the pubs and halls of the idyllic local village, situated at the foot of the Blackstairs Mountains. An incredible line-up of writers and creatives has been announced for this year’s festival, including Mary Robinson, Carl Bernstein, Ben Okri, Donal Ryan, Kit De Waal, Julian Barnes, Lemn Sissay and Loah.
GALWAY INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL
July 15 – 28
Galway City giaf.ie
A creative mix of performance, music, visual art and discussion, Galway
Arts Festival is one of Ireland’s biggest, most vibrant and exciting events, offering a wide range of experiences, from world-class theatre to impromptu musical performances on the city’s winding streets. This year’s line-up boasts some of the most impressive talent in the history of the festival. Headliners include Heineken Big Top appearances from Two Door Cinema Club, Bell X1, The Academic, Burt Bacharach and Orbital. From the party atmosphere at the Big Top to the quiet contemplation of the festival galleries, the city is transformed over the course of the fortnight. Over the last few years, the event has attracted crowds in excess of 200,000.
FESTIVAL OF FOOD
April 26– 28
Dungarvan, Co. Waterford westwaterfordfestivaloffood.com
Running for the last ten years, the West Waterford Festival Of Food has become synonymous with fabulous dishes and fantastic family events. In addition, it showcases the southeast’s nest food and welcomes top local and international chefs, as well as offering an exciting mix of fresh avours, interesting in uences and great new culinary ideas. Across the weekend, the festival hosts a local Farmer’s Market, a Country Market, a Quayside Saturday Market with a seafood theme, and the major Festival Market, featuring over 100 stalls in the town centre.
TASTE OF DUBLIN June 13 – 16
Iveagh Gardens, Dublin tasteofdublin.ie
Taste Of Dublin allows you to step into a culinary wonderland, where
you can enjoy signature dishes from some of the capital’s
nest restaurants. Over four indulgent days, the event celebrates Dublin’s unique and progressive dining scene. Set in the stunning Iveagh Gardens in the heart of Dublin, visitors can sample taster portions of signature dishes from some of Ireland’s nest restaurants. Although 2019’s line-up has yet to be announced, last year’s live demonstrations and tastings – including the Neff Taste Kitchen, The Roe & Co Tram 21, and the World Class Bar and Cocktails at Home Academy – can give you a taste of what to expect.
THE BIA LOVER FESTIVAL OF FOOD
June 22 & 23
Athenry, Co. Galway bialover.ie
Celebrating the nest food and drink produced in Ireland, Bia Lover is set to bring the historic town of Athenry to life this Midsummer’s weekend with its incredible annual showcase. The festival places a strong emphasis on recognising the diversity of Ireland’s food culture, with a particular focus on cuisine from the west of the country. With over 50 businesses offering a wide range of artisan products, local brews and some of the region’s best food trucks, Bia Lover boasts something for every palate – and invites you to step out of your comfort zone to try exciting new dishes.
GALWAY INTERNATIONAL OYSTER & SEAFOOD FESTIVAL September 27 – 29
Spanish Arch, Galway galwayoysterfestival.com
The oldest oyster festival in the world, Galway’s International Oyster and Seafood Festival is gearing up to celebrate its 65th anniversary. With attractions including the Opening Night at the Festival Marquee, the World Oyster Opening Championship, the Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball and the Féile Bia Na Mara, the event has won wide acclaim.
KINSALE GOURMET FESTIVAL October 11 – 13
Kinsale, Co. Cork kinsalerestaurants.com
Taking place in the beautiful coastal town of Kinsale, widely regarded as the gourmet capital of Ireland, the Kinsale Gourmet Festival promises a weekend of food heaven and fun. The festival includes events such as the Champagne Reception on opening night, the Mad Hatters Taste of Kinsale (a walking tour of Kinsale’s 11 Good Food Circle Restaurants), and the Fruits de Mer Luncheon.
CORK MIDSUMMER FESTIVAL June 13 – 23
Cork City corkmidsummer.com
Taking place across 10 days,
Cork Midsummer Festival is an annual multi-disciplinary arts festival that uses Cork City as a backdrop and inspiration for some phenomenal events. While the full line-up won’t be revealed until closer to June, the festival has already announced that singer-songwriter Mick Flannery’s stunning new musical, Evening Train, based on his concept album of the same name, will be playing at the Everyman from June 14 to
23. Keep an eye on the Cork Midsummer Festival website in the coming months to see what’s on offer.
ROSE OF TRALEE August 23 – 27 Tralee, Co. Kerry roseoftralee.ie
A national institution, the Rose of Tralee celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2019. Established in 1959, and broadcast on RTE since 1978, the live coverage has consistently topped the ratings, attracting audiences of up to a million viewers. Aside from the main event, which takes place in the stunning festival dome, the week-long celebration also includes street entertainment, carnivals, live concerts, theatre, circus, markets, funfair,
reworks and the internationally renowned Rose Parade.
LISDOONVARNA MATCHMAKING FESTIVAL August 30 – September 29, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare matchmakerireland.com
Celebrating one of Ireland’s oldest traditions, the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival has been pairing up the nation’s single folk for over 150 years. Now Europe’s largest singles event, the festival runs for a whole month, with dances starting at noon every day and continuing into the wee hours. Keeping track of all the hopeful singles is third generation matchmaker Willie Daly, who can be found maintaining his precious notebook of loveseeking pro les in his ‘of ce’, the snug of the Matchmaker Bar. Already attached? No problem – a vibrant programme of music, dancing and that world-famous Lisdoonvarna craic won’t let you down! Since 2014, the festival has also hosted The Outing (September 27 & 28), the world’s only LGBT+ music, arts and matchmaking festival.
(Clockwise from top left) DJ MK (Life Festival), Lankum (Doolin Folk Festival), Talos (Body & Soul), Hozier (Belsonic) and Modeselektor (Body & Soul).
(From top) A$AP Rocky (Longitude), Bastille (Indiependence), The National (ATN) and The 1975 (Electric Picnic).
(Clockwise) King Kong Company(Vantastival), Sigrid (Sea Sessions), The Black Madonna (Ava Festival) and Echo & The Bunnymen (Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival).
(From top) Liz Nugent (Listowel Writers’ Week), Galway International Arts Festival, Taste Of Dublin and the Bia Lover Festival Of Food.
Cork Midsummer Festival and (right) Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival’s Willie Daly and co.