For the most up-to-date listings of events, check out www.discoverireland.ie and www.entertainment.ie.
Funderland. Royal Dublin Society, Ballsbridge, Dublin. An annual indoor fun fair, with white-knuckle rides, carnival stalls, and family entertainment (www.funderland.com; 01/242-8591). Also smaller events in Cork, Limerick, and Belfast later in the year; check website for details.)
Dublin International Film Festival. Irish Film Centre, Temple Bar, and various cinemas in Dublin. Screenings of more than 100 films, from both Ireland and abroad, plus seminars and lectures on filmmaking (www.diff.ie; 01/662-4620).
Irish Antique & Fine Art Fair. Ballsbridge Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Ireland’s premier annual antiques fair, with hundreds of dealers from all over the island (www.iada.ie; 087/693-3602).
St. Patrick’s Dublin Festival. This massive 4-day festival is open, free, and accessible to all. Street theater, carnival acts, sports, music, fireworks, and other festivities culminate in Ireland’s grandest parade, with marching bands, drill teams, floats, and delegations from around the world (www.stpatricksday.ie). On and around March 17.
St. Patrick’s Day Parades. Held all over Ireland and Northern Ireland, celebrating Ireland’s patron saint. March 17.
Pan Celtic Festival. For 5 days, the wider Celtic family (including Cornwall, Isle of Man, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany) unites for culture, song, dance, sports, and parades with marching bands and pipers. The festival moves to a different part of a Celtic nation or region every year—but Ireland is a frequent host (www.panceltic.ie; 059/915-8105). March/April.
World Irish Dancing Championships. Dublin. The premier international competition in Irish dancing features more than 4,000 contenders from as far away as New Zealand (www.clrg.ie; 01/814-6298). April.
Belfast City Marathon. This 42km (26-mile) race of 6,000 international runners through the city starts and finishes at Maysfield Leisure Centre (www.belfastcitymarathon.com; 028/9060-5933). Early May.
May Day Races. Down Royal Racecourse, Maze, Lisburn, County Antrim. One of the major events on the horse-racing calendar (www.downroyal.com; 028/9262-1256).
Dublin Writers Festival. Dublin. One of the biggest events in the Irish arts calendar, this 9-day festival draws high-profile authors from around the world. Events take place at venues across the city, including Dublin Castle (www.dublinwritersfestival.com; 01/222-5455). Mid-May.
Wicklow Arts Festival. Wicklow’s big spring event is held over 5 days in Wicklow Town. Many of the dozens of music, theater, art, and literary events are free (www.wicklowartsfestival.ie). Late May.
Sky Cat Laughs Comedy Festival. Various venues, Kilkenny Town. Past performers at this international festival of stand-up comedy include American comics Bill Murray, George Wendt, and Emo Phillips, and Ireland’s Dara O’Briain (www.thecatlaughs.com). Late May or early June.June
Taste of Dublin. Iveagh Gardens, Dublin. One of Ireland’s biggest and most high-profile food festivals, where for 4 days visitors can sample dishes prepared by some of the country’s top chefs, and over 100 artisan producers. The event is usually a sellout, so booking is advisable. (www.tasteofdublin.ie). Mid-June.
Bloomsday Festival. Various Dublin venues. This unique daylong fest celebrates Leopold Bloom, the central character of James Joyce’s Ulysses, by replicating the aromas, sights, sounds, and tastes of Dublin on June 16, 1904, the day when Ulysses takes place. Ceremonies are held at the James Joyce Tower and Museum; guided walks visit Joycean sights. Contact the James Joyce Centre, 35 N. Great George’s St., Dublin 1 (www.jamesjoyce.ie; 01/878-8547). June 16.
Cork Midsummer Arts Festival. Emmet Place, Cork City. The program includes musical performances and traditional Irish céilí bands, and always has a strong literary content. Bonfire nights are particularly popular (www.corkmidsummer.com; 021/421-5131). Mid-June.
Irish Derby. The Curragh, County Kildare. Ireland’s version of the Kentucky Derby or Royal Ascot is a fashionable gathering (Hint: jackets for men, posh hats for women) of racing fans from all over the world. It’s one of the richest middle-distance horse races in Europe. Booking recommended (www.curragh.ie; 045/441-205). Late June.
Battle of the Boyne Commemoration. Belfast and other cities. This annual event, often called Orangeman’s Day, recalls the historic battle between two 17th-century kings. Protestant parades are held all over Northern Ireland; inevitably some in urban Belfast and Derry may turn nasty. This may be one better viewed from afar. July 12.
Galway Arts Festival & Races. Galway City. This 2-week fest features international theater, concerts, literary evenings, street shows, arts, parades, and music (www.giaf.ie; 091/509700), followed by the famous Galway Races—5 days of racing and merriment, music, and song. Mid-to late July.
Lughnasa Fair. Carrickfergus Castle, County Antrim. On the grounds of this 12th-century Norman castle, this event features people in period costumes, medieval games, traditional food, entertainment, and crafts (www.carrickfergus.org; 028/9335-8000). Late July/early August.
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Ireland’s premier summer festival of traditional music since 1951 changes its host city every year. Competitions are held to select all-Ireland champions in all categories of instruments and singing. Visit www.fleadhcheoil.ie to find out this year’s location (085/165-1142). Early to mid-August.
Fáilte Ireland Horse Show. RDS Showgrounds, Ballsbridge, Dublin. The most important equestrian event in Ireland. Aside from daily dressage and jumping competitions, highlights include a fashionable ladies’ day, nightly formal hunt balls, and the awarding of the Aga Khan Trophy and the Nation’s Cup (www.dublinhorseshow.com; 01/668-0866). Early August.
Kilkenny Arts Festival. Kilkenny Town. This weeklong event offers classical and traditional music, plays, one-person shows, readings, films, poetry, and art exhibitions (www.kilkennyarts.ie; 056/776-3663).
Puck Fair. Killorglin, County Kerry. In one of Ireland’s oldest festivals, the residents of this tiny Ring of Kerry town capture a wild goat and enthrone it as “king” over 3 days of merrymaking—open-air concerts, horse fairs, parades, and fireworks (www.puckfair.ie; 066/976-2366). August 10–12.
Rose of Tralee International Festival. Tralee, County Kerry. A gala atmosphere prevails at this 5-day event, with a full program of concerts, street entertainment, horse races, and a beauty-and-talent pageant leading up to the televised selection of the “Rose of Tralee” (www.roseoftralee.ie; 066/712-1322).
National Heritage Week. More than 400 events are held throughout the country—walks, lectures, exhibitions, music recitals, and more (www.heritageweek.ie; 185/020-0878). Late August.
Electric Picnic. Stradbally, County Laois. This midsize music festival, held on the grounds of Stradbally Hall, is known for its eclectic lineup. Recent acts include Sonic Youth, Björk, and Sigur Rós. (www.electricpicnic.ie; 081/871-9300). Early September.
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival. Lisdoonvarna, County Clare. Still the biggest and best singles’ event, this traditional “bachelor” festival carries on in the lovely spa town of Lisdoonvarna, with lots of music and dance (www.matchmakerireland.com; 065/707-4005). September/October.
All-Ireland Hurling & Gaelic Football Finals. Croke Park, Dublin. The finals of Ireland’s most beloved sports, hurling and Gaelic football, are Ireland’s equivalent of the Super Bowl. You can find information at www.gaa.ie, or obtain tickets through Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.ie; 081/871-9300).
Galway International Oyster Festival. The highlights of this festival include the World Oyster Opening Championship, a grand opening parade, a yacht race, an art exhibition, a gala banquet, traditional music, and, of course, lots of oyster eating (www.galwayoysterfest.com; 091/394637). Late September.
Dublin Theatre Festival. Theaters throughout Dublin. Showcases for new plays by every major Irish company (including the Abbey and the Gate), plus a range of productions from abroad (www.dublintheatrefestival.com; 01/677-8439). Late September/mid-October.
Kinsale International Gourmet Festival. Kinsale, County Cork. The foodie capital of Ireland hosts this well-respected annual fest, featuring special menus in all the restaurants and plenty of visiting star chefs (www.kinsalerestaurants.com; 021/477-3571).
Baboró International Arts Festival for Children. Galway. A fun-filled, educational festival geared to kids 3 to 12 years of age, with theater, music, dance, museum exhibitions, and literary events (www.baboro.ie; 091/569-777). Mid-late October.
Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. Cork City. Ireland’s second city stages a first-rate festival of jazz, with an international lineup of live acts playing in hotels, concert halls, and pubs (www.guinnessjazzfestival.com; 021/427-8979). Late October.
Dublin City Marathon. On the last Monday in October, more than 5,000 runners from both sides of the Atlantic and the Irish Sea participate in this popular run through the streets of the capital (www.dublinmarathon.ie; 01/623-2250).
Wexford Festival Opera. Wexford, County Wexford. Famous as much for its jubilant, informal atmosphere as for acclaimed productions of lesser known 18th- and 19th-century operatic masterpieces, this festival also offers classical music concerts, recitals, and more (www.wexfordopera.com; 053/912-2144). Late October/early November.
Cork International Film Festival. Cinemas throughout Cork. Ireland’s oldest film festival offers a plethora of international features, documentaries, short films, and special programs (www.corkfilmfest.org; 021/427-1711). Mid-November.
Dublin Web Fest. Temple Bar, Dublin. This uber-cool festival showcases the best in drama, comedy, and animation that has been independently produced for the web (www.dublinwebfest.com; 085/175-0360).
Killarney Christmas Market. Fair Hill, Killarney, County Kerry. Killarney hosts some of the region’s best Christmas markets, devoted mainly to quality local crafts and food (www.christmasinkillarney.com; 064/663-7928). Various dates in December.
Dublin Docklands Christmas Festival. Part of the traditional run-up to Christmas in Dublin, this huge event all but takes over Docklands. Mostly it’s an opportunity to shop (there are over 100 different traders), but there’s also a fairground, and festive food and drink aplenty (www.dublindocklandschristmasfestival.ie; 01/496-9883). Mid-December until Christmas.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.