Whatever time of the year you plan to travel to Ireland, there is certainly a festival or holiday you can celebrate. In Ireland events are usually very energetic, light-hearted, and full of music. In fact, many events in Ireland are centered on music and dance, and attending a ceili or other musical event is one of the best things to do in Ireland. In addition, holidays in Ireland are celebrated with great enthusiasm and ceremony, perhaps due to the country’s strongly religious, though sometimes conflicted, history.
In winter, two popular festivals in Ireland are the Goff’s Bloodstock Sales and St. Stephen’s Day. The Bloodstock Sales is a big yearling, foal, and breeding stock sale, and it is held in mid-December in Kill, County Kildare. Many festivals in Ireland are based around livestock, produce, and fairs. St. Stephen’s Day is held December 26. On this day, the traditional Wren Boys with painted black faces and fancy clothes roam the streets of towns, singing and asking for donations. Christmas is one of the most celebrated holidays in Ireland. Visitors can attend Christmas services at a number of cathedrals, including the majestic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.
When spring comes to the emerald country, the Irish people certainly have something to celebrate—and celebrate they do! In March, travelers can enjoy some fabulous music at the Adare Jazz Festival in County Limerick, the Arklow Music Festival, and the Castleward Opea at Belfast’s Grand Opera House.
When St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, the most internationally known holiday of the Ireland holidays, you’ll want to be in Dublin for the annual Dublin Festival and Parade. The festival usually includes famous musical groups and colorful fireworks. In the lively spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, you can also head to the Guinness Brewery and down a pint of Guinness.
For travelers with an eye for antiques, the Dublin Antiques and Collectables Fair in April should not to be missed. In Ireland holidays also mean running, or at least Easter does. During Easter Weekend, Dublin holds its annual 2-day Fairyhouse Easter Racing Festival, which is one of the biggest running events in Ireland. Ireland holidays sure get the blood pumping!
In May, visitors can attend one of the more traditional events in Ireland—the Fleadh Nuo. The Fleadh Nuo is the annual festival of traditional Irish music, song, and dance. It takes place in Ennis, County Clare. There is also the spirited Belfast Civic Festival, one of the lengthier Ireland events, spanning 21 days and including concerts, competitions, exhibitions, and a parade. One of the more popular music festivals in Ireland is the Galway Early Music Festival.
Don’t be deceived: not all Ireland events are song and dance. For instance, the Murphy’s International Mussel Fair in May celebrates the peak mussel season with many delicious mussel-based dishes. It is held in Bantry, County Cork.
One of the major literary holidays in Ireland is Bloomsday, held on June 16 in Dublin, which celebrates James Joyce’s Ulysses. Other great Ireland events include the Oul’ Lammas Fair and the Puck Fair. The Oul’ Lammas Fair is Ireland’s oldest fair, held every year since 1606 on the last Monday and Tuesday in August. The Puck Fair in Killorglin, County Kerry, is also an old-world fair, but it’s presided over by a flower garland-wearing billy goat.
And these are only a brief spattering of all the holidays and events in Ireland. Every day, travelers can find great music, dance, and entertainment, especially in large city and during summer months. The Irish people love life, and boy, do they love to celebrate!