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Festivals Ireland 2023: 95 of the Best

Festivals Ireland 2023: 95 of the Best

When it comes to festivals Ireland has its fair share (see our guide to music festivals in Ireland if you’re looking for the livelier ones!).

From traditional Irish festivals, like Puck Festival and the Lisdoonvarna Match Making Festival, to food, trad music and more, there’s an event to tickle most fancies.

And, thankfully, there’s heaps of festivals in Ireland in 2023 taking place right the way throughout the year. Find the best of them below!

Table of Contents

Festivals in Ireland in January

Temple Bar on St Patrick's Day

Photos via Shutterstock

The first few months of the year is one of the quieter times of the year for festivals in Ireland, with many large events taking place pre-Christmas and then later in spring.

However, there are a handful of brilliant Irish festivals scheduled for the first three months of the year, as you’ll discover below.

1. TradFest Temple Bar (Dublin, January 25th – 29th)

With over 100 artists performing at over 22 venues, TradFest Temple Bar celebrates traditional Irish music with a buzzing festival in Dublin’s buzzy Temple Bar district and beyond. Venues include the GPO Museum and St Patrick’s Cathedral. This is one of the most popular trad festivals in Ireland for good reason.

2. Classics Now (Dublin, January 27th – 29th)

Classics Now will treat visitors to a host of interviews, discussions, film screenings and musical theatre performances. Each feature is centred around the art, literature and ideas of the Ancient Greeks and Romans as interpreted and reimagined by outstanding artists today. 

Festivals in Ireland in February

trad music

Photos via Shutterstock

February is when the Irish festivals scene really starts to take off, with 3 – 4 times as many festivals taking place in comparison to the previous month.

From the beginning of the month, a mix of music, art and cultural festivals take place.

1. Belfast TradFest (Belfast, February 24th – 26th)

The popular Belfast TradFest takes place in winter and summer, and this winter edition features weekend workshops alongside a full programme of concerts, talks, lectures, sessions, céilís and a festival club. 

2. Dublin International Film Festival (Dublin, February 23rd – March 4th)

Ireland’s biggest film festival presents a programme of 2023’s most exciting international cinema, the best new Irish cinema, a retrospective of much-loved and forgotten classics, conversations with actors and directors and much more.

3. Mother Tongues Festival (Dublin, February 16th – 18th)

Mother Tongues, the largest festival celebrating linguistic diversity through the arts in Ireland, showcases its work through a variety of workshops, open discussions, storytelling experiences, live performances and more across multiple languages. 

4. Irish Association of Youth Orchestras (Dublin, February 11th)

An annual celebration of youth orchestras in Ireland and their members, with a diverse variety of music played by young people, for young people. Now in its 27th edition, two cracking performances take place at the National Concert Hall. 

5. Scene Heard (Dublin, February 9th – 25th)

An in-person festival with programmed work from every facet of the arts world, Scene + Heard at the Smock Alley Theatre is a space for everyone from first-time script writers to seasoned actors to try out ideas.

6. Take Off Festival (Cork, February 16th – 18th)

Take Off Festival sees three international choreographers paired with three Irish choreographers perform across three nights at this festival in Cork, taking place at Dance Cork Firkin Crane

7. Brigit 2023 (Dublin, February 1st – 6th)

City-wide celebration of Brigit welcomes Spring with events celebrating the contributions and achievements of women past and present and includes a programme highlighting the stories of Irish women through the ages.

Festivals in Ireland in March

st patrick's day background

Photos via Shutterstock

One of the most notable festivals in Ireland takes place during the month of March. I’m talking, of course, about St. Patrick’s Day. However, if parades aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other Irish festivals taking place in March 2023.

1. St Patrick’s Festival (Various, March 17th)

Needs no introduction. Ireland’s national festival on March 17th is celebrated in almost every corner of the country with jaunty parades, plenty of good time drinking and great trad music. See our guides to spending St Patrick’s Day in Ireland or St Patrick’s Day in Dublin for more.

2. Catalyst International Film Festival (Limerick, March 30th – Apr 1st)

Catalyst Festival presents a film programme prioritising stories and storytellers currently under-represented on screen and behind the camera. Aiming to improve equality, diversity and inclusion, there will be screenings, panels, workshops and masterclasses.

3. Early Music Festivals (Limerick, March 24th – 26th)

The first of six nationwide festivals throughout the year, the Limerick Early Music Festival presents historically informed performances of medieval, renaissance and baroque music, featuring world-renowned artists.

4. Finding a Voice (Clonmel, March 8th – 12th)

A festival of music by women for women by Róisín and Clíona Maher. Features performances of unforgettable music by remarkable women from leading Irish and international musicians, including Irish composer Gráinne Mulvey.

5. Belfast Children’s Festival (Belfast, March 4th – 13th)

An inspiring festival in Belfast with fun-filled performances, featuring local, national and international theatre, dance, music, art, interactive events and exhibitions alongside free family activities. 

6. Francophonie Festival (Dublin, March 1st – 31st)

Bonjour! Dublin’s Francophonie Festival is a month-long celebration of the French language and French culture, which will see film screenings, literature discussions, talks and debates. Incorporates the Francophonie Film Festival running between March 8th and 11th.

Festivals in Ireland in April

Slieve League

Photos via Shutterstock

May is relatively quiet for Irish festivals in 2023, however, the ones that are taking place are well worth a look. Below, you’ll find everything from the popular Cathedral Quarter festival in Belfast to the brilliant Galway Theatre Festival.

1. Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival (Belfast, April 27th – May 7th)

Belfast’s annual festival of music, comedy, theatre, art and literature. The creative blend of established names and emerging acts draws over 60,000 people to over 100 events in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

2. New Music Dublin (Dublin, April 20th – 23rd)

New Music Festival offers a platform to performers and music-makers from across the spectrum of Irish new music to showcase their work with a wide audience. Venues include the National Concert Hall. 

3. Cúirt International Festival of Literature (Galway, April 17th – 23rd)

Cúirt is one of Europe’s oldest book festivals, and a leading voice for literature both internationally and across Ireland. Expect plenty of discussion from Irish and international authors celebrating writing, books and reading in all forms.

4. Galway Theatre Festival (Galway, April 28th – May 6th)

One of the leading arts festivals in Ireland in 2023 dedicated to independent theatre and performance, the Galway Theatre Festival covers theatre, circus, spectacle and storytelling across nine performance-packed days. 

Festivals in Ireland in May

Botanic Gardens

Photos via Shutterstock

May boasts a similar number of Irish festivals as April, with five main events in Ireland taking place. Below, you’ll find everything from the wonderful Listowel Writers’ Week to the Dublin Dance Festival.

1. Listowel Writers’ Week (Listowel, May 31st – June 4th)

Listowel Writers’ Week is another of the better-known Irish festivals. diverse festival curated by Stephen Connolly in a historic Kerry town, with high-quality opportunities for writers, aspiring writers, readers, and visitors to engage with the world of writing and reading. 

2. International Literature Festival Dublin (Dublin, May 19th – 28th)

Dublin’s one of the world’s great literature cities and its famous festival hosts readings, conversations, debates, screenings, guided walks, events, podcasts and broadcasts. The prestigious Dublin Literary Award winner is announced on May 25th. 

3. West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival (Russborough/Blessington, May 17th – 21st)

Next in our Irish festivals 2023 guide is a chamber music festival bringing the riches of superb artists from Ireland and abroad to West Wicklow in some ornate surroundings. Saxophonist Jess Gillam and vocal ensemble Apollo 5 are two of the acts performing this year

4. Dublin Dance Festival (Dublin, May 16th – 28th)

A 12-day festival showcasing the best Irish and international dance performances in venues across Dublin to a growing and appreciative audience celebrating the transformative power of dance.

5. Bealtaine Festival (Various, May 1st – 31st) 

A month-long festival featuring performances, exhibitions, discussions, workshops and readings by artists working in different art forms all over Ireland. Uniquely, Bealtaine tries to inspire creativity among older people and communities.

Festivals in Ireland in June

music festivals ireland 2023

Photos via Shutterstock

June is when the Irish festivals scene really starts to kick-off, with a jam-packed list of events in Ireland on offer. Below, you’ll find everything from lively music festivals in Ireland to quirky events and some great foodie festivals.

1. West Cork Chamber Music Festival (Bantry, June 23rd – Jul 2nd)

Bantry hosts one of Europe’s premiere chamber music festivals featuring a whole host of world-class musicians. Acts in 2023 include the Armida Quartet, Pacifica Quartet, Ragazze Quartet, Ardeo Quartet and Ensemble Diderot.

2. Borris House Festival (Carlow, Jun 16th – 18th)

The Borris House Festival of Writing & Ideas promises a weekend of stimulating dialogue and discourse with some of the finest writers around. Guest speakers this year include Bernadine Evaristo, Stanley Tucci, Sinead Gleeson and William Dalrymple.

3. Hinterland (Kells, Jun 22nd – 25th)

Hinterland is an annual multi-disciplinary arts festival based in the spiritual home of the Book of Kells, showcasing an eclectic mix of literature, politics, sport, lifestyle and children’s fiction across a fascinating weekend.

4. Beyond the Pale (Glendalough, Jun 16th – 18th)

A cracking music and arts festival returns to the stunning surrounding of Glendalough deep in the heart of Wicklow. With 150+ acts, the headliners for the 2023 edition include Hot Chip, Leftfield and Candi Staton. 

5. Body & Soul (Ballinlough Castle Estate, Jun 16th – 18th)

This celebration of the summer solstice at Ballinlough Castle Estate is an atmospheric festival of surprises featuring intimate performances from the likes of Aoife Nessa Francis, Sorcha Richardson and DJ Gilles Peterson.

6. Sea Sessions Bundoran (Bundoran, Jun 16th – 18th)

Sea Sessions is is one of the more popular Irish festivals taking place this summer. A surf and music festival out on Donegal’s windswept coast featuring some quality acts in a cool location. Headliners this year at Sea Sessions Bundoran include Kasabian, Becky Hill and The Coronas.

7. Cork Midsummer Festival (Cork, Jun 14th – 25th)

The Cork Midsummer Festival boasts a deadly programme of theatre, dance, visual arts, music and a whole lot more. 2022 was the first fully-live festival in almost three years and 2023 promises to be even bigger. 

8. Dalkey Book Festival (Dublin, Jun 15th – 18th)

30 minutes south of Dublin City lies the charming seaside suburb of Dalkey and it hosts a great book festival every June. Big name speakers in previous years have included Bono, Stephen Fry and Sally Rooney. 

9. Cruinniú na nÓg (Various, Jun 10th)

Cruinniú na nÓg is Creative Ireland’s national day of creativity with free events and activities for children and young people all across Ireland. Activities include everything from workshops and tutorials to recitals and readings. 

10. Dublin International Chamber Music Festival (Dublin, Jun 7th – 12th)

One of the biggest chamber music festivals in Ireland, the Dublin International Chamber Music Festival hosts world premieres, family concerts and some exhilarating music from Africa, alongside some wonderful Irish performances. 

11. Carlow Arts Festival (Carlow, Jun 7th – 11th)

Carlow Town begins its summer with a colourful weekend festival full of live music, circus, dance, theatre, visual arts and street art. Grab all-day music passes for just 20 euros. It’s an enjoyable week of mind-bending illusion and it’s one of the more unique Irish festivals.

12. Cat Laughs Comedy Festival (Kilkenny, June 3rd – 4th)

Not every summer festival needs music! Kilkenny hosts its Cat Laughs Comedy Festival every summer bank holiday weekend and promises plenty of giggles into the evening from Irish and international comics across the city. 

13. Forbidden Fruit (Dublin, June 3rd – 4th)

Dublin’s summer music festival season kicks off with Forbidden Fruit, a cracking two-day music and art festival taking place in the beautiful grounds of the city’s Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.

14. Bloomsday (Dublin, June 16th)

Named after central character Leopold Bloom, Bloomsday celebrates Thursday June 16th 1904, the day depicted in James Joyce’s classic novel Ulysses. Celebrations include readings, performances and visiting the places referenced in the book.

15. Patrún Festival (Inis Mor Island, June 29th – July 2nd) 

An annual three-day summer party every June, the Patrún Festival takes place on the beautiful windswept Inis Mor island. It features all kinds of sport, including currach and hooker boat racing, tug-of-war, art and sandcastle competitions. 

Festivals in Ireland in July

Bantry House and Gardens

Photos via Shutterstock

July is another bumper month for festivals in Ireland in 2023, with a great mix of music, culture and food on offer. It’s worth noting that many of the events in Ireland that take place during the summer months can be in hot demand, so make sure to check and see if you can buy tickets for these Irish festivals in advance.

1. Belfast TradFest (Belfast, July 23rd – 29th)

The summer edition of the Belfast TradFest takes place at the end of July and some fabulous musicians bring the city to life for seven-day series of concerts, sessions, céilí and music masterclasses.

2. Galway International Arts Festival (Galway, July 17th – 30th)

Arguably one of the most famous Irish festivals, the Galway International Arts Festival has a packed programme and runs for a two weeks out in Galway. Includes cracking Irish and international theatre, opera, circus and visual arts, plus a headline slot from Kaiser Chiefs.

3. Earagail Arts Festival (Co. Donegal, July 8th – 23rd)

This is a very distinct festival out in Donegal and features immersive and participatory experiences in circus, music, spoken word and theatre, all celebrating a unique people, language and landscape.

4. Galway Film Fleadh (Galway, July 11th – 16th)

Another of the more famous events in Ireland is the Galway Film Fleadh – a week-long international film festival taking place every July. As well as screenings, the fair also runs an annual Pitching Competition, masterclasses, case studies and forum.

5. Otherside Music & Arts Festival (Slane, July 7th – 9th)

Out in an expansive valley in Slane, the Otherside Music & Arts Festival mixes dance, art, wellness, food, and connection across three days on Rock Farm. Headliners in 2022 included Lane 8 and DJ Seinfeld.

6. West Cork Literary Festival (Bantry, July 7th – 14th)

The West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry is one of Cork’s many summer festivals and promises workshops, readings, professional development, events for children and young people. 2023 guests include Raymond Antrobus and India Knight.

7. Clonmel Junction Arts Festival (Clonmel, July 1st – 9th)

Now into its 22nd year, the Clonmel Junction Arts Festival is a multi-disciplinary arts festival featuring this year performances by Aileen Cahill with Andreea Banciu and composer-performer Eamon O’Malley.

8. Irish Youth Dance Festival (Dublin, July 1st – 2nd)

Taking up residence at Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre, the Irish Youth Dance Festival provides a national platform for youth dance companies alongside international guests including Scotland’s National Youth Dance Company.

9. Cairde Sligo (Sligo, July 1st – 9th)

Sligo’s nine-day arts festival takes over the town’s venues, streets and public spaces. Expect everything from atmospheric dance to performances by Edinburgh Fringe award-winning comics and colourful circus shows. 

10. Longitude (Dublin, July 1st – 2nd)

Longitude is one of the livelier Irish festivals and it’s Dublin’s largest outdoor music festival. It takes place the first weekend of July in Marlay Park and this years’ edition features big-name acts including Megan Thee Stallion, Tyler the Creator, Dave and A$AP Rocky.

Festivals in Ireland in August

Kylemore Castle from afar

Photos via Shutterstock

From what we can tell, there are more Irish festivals taking place in August than in any other month of the year. Below, you’ll find everything from the excellent Galway Oyster Festival and the Dingle Food Festival to some very quirky events in Ireland.

1. Masters of Tradition (Bantry, August 23rd – 27th)

It’s all in the name! Curated by by fiddle player Martin Hayes, Masters of Tradition celebrates the finest in Irish trad music and it all takes in place in Bantry on Cork’s west coast. 

2. Desmond O’Halloran Music Weekend (Connemara, August 24th – 26th)

Celebrating the wizard from Inishbofin, the Desmond O’Halloran Music Weekend in Connemara is jam-packed with concerts, workshops, arts events and free traditional and folk music trails across the island’s venues and landscapes.

3. Rose of Tralee International Festival (Tralee, August 18th – 22nd) 

Taking inspiration from a 19th-century ballad of the same name about a woman called Mary, the Rose of Tralee International Festival crowns the woman deemed best to match the “lovely and fair” attributes in the song.

4. Dingle Food Festival

The fishing village of Dingle is an amazing pub town but it also hosts a mighty food festival! Highlights of the festival include cookery demonstrations, food trails, over 50 market stalls, children’s events and wine tastings.

5. Galway Oyster and Seafood Festival

Few corners of Ireland are better than Galway for seafood and this festival is an absolute must-visit! Take on their expertly curated Seafood Trail and sample some of the West Coast’s freshest finds at what is rightly one of the most popular food festivals in Ireland.

6. Chamber Music on Valentia (Valentia, August 17th – 20th)

Curated by pianist Mary Dullea, the 10th edition of Chamber Music on Valentia takes place in a gorgeous island location in Kerry and features the first installment of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti alongside Fidelio Trio’s innovative Pop Archive.

7. Another Love Story (Killyon Manor, August 18th – 20th)

This curiously-named festival is in its 9th year and takes place in the grounds and halls of 18th-century Killyon Manor in Meath. Expect a great weekend of music, art, conversation and gastronomy. 

8. Puck Fair (Killorglin, August 10th – 12th)

The Puck Fair is one of the most unique festivals in Ireland! One of Ireland’s oldest fairs, this bizarre festival out in Killorglin in Kerry is centred around a village goat known as the ‘King Puck’.

9. Waterford Walls (Waterford, August 11th – 20th)

This street art festival in Waterford attracts international artists who descend on the city to create some spectacular murals. Check out live art, jam walls and music at the festival hub, alongside workshops and guided tours.

10. Kilkenny Arts Festival (Kilkenny, August 10th – 20th)

Going for over 50 years now, the Kilkenny Arts Festival runs across ten days and gathers many of the world’s finest musicians, performers, writers and artists in Ireland’s medieval city for some cracking live performances.

11. Indiependence Music & Arts Festival (Mitchelstown, August 4th – 6th)

The snappily-titled Indiependence Music & Arts Festival kicks off August on a tree-lined 52-acre site in Mitchelstown in Cork with a strong line-up. Headliners include Anne-Marie, Two Door Cinema Club and The Coronas. 

12. Birr Vintage Week (Birr, August 4th – 12th)

Beginning back in 1968 and returning for its 55th edition, Birr Vintage Week in Offaly is nationally acknowledged as a unique historical, cultural and community-focused celebration. Dive into visual arts, music, street theatre, pop-up performances, workshops and exhibitions.

13. All Together Now (Curraghmore Estate, August 4th – 6th)

August starts with a bang at the Curraghmore Estate in Waterford with All Together Now. The initial line-up includes Iggy Pop, Jamie xx, Caribou, Loyle Carner, Villagers, Jessie Ware, Sugababes and Billy Bragg.

14. Spraoi International Street Arts Festival (Waterford, August 4th – 6th)

It’s all happening in Waterford this weekend as Ireland’s free summer street party brings hundreds of global artists and musicians to perform, headlined by the festival parade in front of more than 20,000 spectators.

15. Galway Races (Ballybrit, July 31st – August 6th)

Fancy a flutter? The Galway Races kick off at the end of July for a week in nearby Ballybrit. This prestigious festival has been running since the 19th century, so put on your best for the glamourous Ladies Day.

16. Fleadh Cheoil (Mullingar, August 6th – 14th)

The very best trad musicians come together for a series of cracking performances during the week-long Fleadh Cheoil that takes place in Mullingar, attracting in the region of 500,00 visitors. 

Festivals in Ireland in September

Lisdoonvarna

Photo left: UpSwing Mediaa. Top right: Maria Ryan Donnelly. Bottom right: Failte Ireland

There’s plenty of Irish festivals in 2023 set to run during the month of September. One of the more unique festivals in Ireland, the  Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, is the most notable, but there’s plenty more taking place.

1. Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival (Lisdoonvarna, late September)

The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, at over 150+ years old, is one of the oldest Irish festivals. It has a couple of aims – to put on some great music from some of Ireland’s top music and also to provide a space for singles (especially from rural areas) to meet new people.

2. Galway Cartoon Festival (Galway, September 29th – October 6th)

Galway’s a unique place and this is a unique festival! The Galway Cartoon Festival runs for one week at the end of September and promises fun exhibitions, talks, workshops, excursions and live drawing events.

3. Dublin Theatre Festival (Dublin, September 28th – October 15th)

Europe’s oldest specialised theatre festival, Dublin Theatre Festival has staged major international theatre of scale and hosted productions by the world’s greatest artists, while also showcasing work by Ireland’s finest playwrights.

4. Dublin Festival of History (Dublin, September 25th – October 15th)

Offering a fresh perspective on history and its importance in everyday lives, the Dublin Festival of History is a free festival in Ireland’s capital so expect plenty of talk and debate from leading Irish and International historians.

5. Sounds from a Safe Harbour Festival (Cork, September 7th – 10th)

Returning for its first edition since 2019, this music, dance, art and conversation festival is curated by some big names – Bryce and Aaron Dessner of The National, actor Cillian Murphy, playwright Enda Walsh and Mary Hickson.

6. Write by the Sea (Kilmore Quay, September 22nd – 24th)

Head down to the quaint fishing village of Kilmore Quay in Wexford for a fine weekend literary festival featuring talks, readings, interviews and workshops. Very handy for keen readers and would-be writers.

7. Culture Night (Various, September 22nd)

An all-Ireland celebration of culture and creativity, Culture Night sees the Arts Council partnering with artists, local authorities, arts organisations to present thousands of free events and activities into the evening, in-person, online and broadcast.

8. Dublin Fringe Festival (Dublin, September 9th – 24th)

The Dublin Fringe Festival is a multidisciplinary arts festival running for two weeks and offers a platform for new and emerging artists in Ireland to showcase their work, alongside trying out new styles and practices.

9. Electric Picnic (Stradbally Hall, September 1st – 3rd)

One of the largest Irish festivals sees out the summer – I’m talking, of course, about Electric Picnic. See out summer in the best way at this big and colourful festival over in Laois. Offering music, art, theatre, comedy and food, the headliners are big this year and include The Killers, Lewis Capaldi and Billie Eilish.

Festivals in Ireland in October

Mussenden Temple

Photos via Shutterstock

When October arrives, so does a plethora of Halloween-related Irish festivals, many of which tell the tell of the origin of the event in Ireland. One of the most popular Irish festivals during this month is the Púca Festival, which takes place in County Meath.

1. Púca Festival (Athboy/Trim, late October)

Púca Festival is one of the newest Irish festivals and celebrates Ireland as the original home of Halloween, which began as the ancient tradition of Samhain over 2,000 years ago. Salute the Halloween spirits through folklore, food, myth and music!

2. Derry Halloween (Derry, October 28th – 31st) 

Claiming to be Europe’s biggest Halloween festival, Derry Halloween embraces the Samhain spirit and attracts revellers from all around the globe while showcasing a programme of arts, food and music alongside cultural, contemporary and family events.

3. Tipperary Dance International Festival (Tipperary, October 2nd – 15th)

This will be the 14th edition of Tipperary’s national and international programme of live dance events across the county, indoor and outdoor performances, masterclasses, school performances and roundtables. Runs for two weeks from October 2nd. 

4. Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival (Nenagh, October 5th – 8th)

Now in its 20th year, the Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival returns to the historic town of Nenagh for a strong programme including poetry/ fiction, historic readings, discussions and a lake tour.

5. Bualadh Bos Children’s Festival (Limerick, October 5th – 15th)

Running for ten days from October 5th, Lime Tree Theatre and Limerick’s Belltable present a creative festival for children with a programme of theatre, dance, music and creative workshops. 

6. Open House Dublin (Dublin, October 13th – 15th)

Over a weekend in mid-October, Open House Dublin is the Irish Architecture Foundation’s annual free festival of architecture and urban design, with more than 100 guided tours and events for all ages across Dublin city and county.

7. Wexford Festival Opera (Wexford, October 24th – November 5th)

For the last 70 years, the Wexford Festival Opera has made a name for itself by introducing audiences to unjustly neglected works. This year, it’s themed around women and war and includes L’aube Rouge by Camille Erlanger.

8. Cork Jazz Festival (Cork, October 26th – 30th)

Why celebrate Halloween when you could enjoy Ireland’s biggest jazz event? Especially the Jazz Music Trail, which sees the city come alive with the sights and sounds of a music trail spanning over 60 Cork venues. 

9. Bram Stoker Festival (Dublin, October 27th – 30th)

Now in its 10th year, the Bram Stoker Festival celebrates the legacy of one of Ireland’s most beloved and iconic writers. Expect deliciously dark treats on the streets and in venues across Dublin.

Festivals in Ireland in November and December

Christmas markets in Ireland

Photos via Shutterstock

The months of November and December mark the arrival of a clatter of Christmassy Irish festivals and events in Ireland. The various Christmas markets in Ireland tend to steal the show, but there are plenty of other evens taking place, too.

1. Dingle Lit (Dingle, November 17th – 19th)

The Dingle Lit is a cracking little literature festival in west Ireland. Expect a great mix of discussion and author events across three days. Previous guests at the festival have included Gabriel Bryne, President Higgins and Kit de Waal.

2. Belfast International Arts Festival (Belfast, October 12th – 29th)

The leading contemporary arts festival in Northern Ireland takes place in venues across Belfast, promising a variety of live dance, theatre and family-friendly entertainment. 

3. Leaves Festival of Writing and Music (Portlaoise, November 8th – 11th)

Leaves Festival of Writing and Music takes place in Portlaoise and celebrates the diversity and richness in today’s literary, music and film scene. Expect plenty of screenings, readings and workshops across the event’s three days. 

4. Dublin Book Festival (Dublin, November 8th – 12th)

A literature festival in a great literature city over four days. The Dublin Book Festival features a mix of live-audience author talks, poetry events and walking tours celebrating Irish writers, publishers and illustrators.

5. Cork International Film Festival (Cork, November 9th – 19th)

CIFF is Ireland’s first and largest film festival, showcasing the latest and best Irish features. There are also award-winning films from the international film festival circuit, new discoveries and cinema classics selected by their experienced curatorial team.

6. Galway Christmas Market (Galway, November 10th – December 22nd)

Christmas festivities on Ireland’s west coast. The Galway Continental Christmas Market received over 450,000 visitors in 2022 and featured over 50 wooden chalets, including a carousel, Santa’s Grotto and a German Bier Keller.

7. Winterval Waterford (Waterford, late November – late December)

Ireland’s largest Christmas festival, Winterval, takes place in the country’s oldest city. Waterford hosts magical experiences, festive family attractions, seasonal surprises and an abundance of free and ticketed events for all ages.

8. Yulefest Kilkenny (Kilkenny, late November – late December)

Yulefest Kilkenny returns in 2023 hosting a programme of events with something for everyone. Enjoy music from a bandstand, a fireworks display, street entertainment, a scavenger hunt and a santa run, among other things.

9. Belfast Christmas Market (Belfast, late November – late December)

Running for over 15 years, the Belfast Christmas Market takes place in the grounds of Belfast City Hall at Donegall Square. With over 100 exhibitors from 28 counties, it’s no surprise this event regularly attracts over 1,000,000 visitors!

11. Dublin Castle Christmas Market (Dublin, December)

The Dublin Castle Christmas Market takes place within the grand grounds of Dublin Castle. With over 26 vendors in wooden chalets, voice choirs and tons of food and drink options, there’s a great atmosphere at this one. 

12. Wicklow Christmas Market (Wicklow Town, late November – late December)

The Wicklow Christmas Market returns and feature chalets manned by local artisans selling everything from handcrafted ornaments, paintings and toys to homemade chutneys and jams. There’s also the brand new Eco-Ice Skating Rink!

13. Glow Cork (Cork, late November – late December)

Glow Cork is a massive Christmas celebration with tons of events taking place, including carol services, film screenings, wreathmaking workshops and, of course, the main festival market packed with artisanal chalets.

Festivals Ireland 2023: What ones have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant Irish festivals from the guide above. If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!

FAQs about the finest Irish festivals

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are the best traditional Irish festivals?’ to ‘Which food festivals are worth nabbing a ticket for?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

What festivals in Ireland in 2023 are worth a visit?

This will be subjective and will be dependant on what you’re into. Above, you’ll find everything from match making festivals to surfing festivals in Ireland and much, much more.

What Irish festivals in 2023 are best for music?

There’s an endless list of music festivals taking place, from Body and Soul and Electric Picnic to Indiependence and more.

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Gerard king

Saturday 3rd of September 2022

Tribfest. 2 nights 1200 turnout 8 tribute bands Kilcock rugby club August bank holiday Free parking incl campers

Barbara Derbyshire

Tuesday 31st of May 2022

Ballybunion Arts Festival 21-24 July in Ballybunion www.ballybunionartsfestival.ie

Deirdre Cahill

Monday 18th of April 2022

SoFFT Nights, Dunderry Park, Co. Meath 4th & 5th June

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