Two men dressed up for Bloomsday, a celebration of James Joyce and his masterpiece novel, "Ulysses," in Dublin


Music, masks, horses, fairs, laughs, theater, parades, books, beer, food and fun.
This pretty much sums up what Ireland's festivals has to offer, and it's quite a lot.
The culture of Ireland is one of Craic - or good times, in a rough English translation. This leaves the door wide open for the types of cultural festivals the country can put on.
In the North, there's the world famous Derry Halloween Festival (over 30,000 attend the event every year!) and Ireland's biggest international festival in Belfast.
In the Republic, there's the popular Galway Races, the exciting Dublin Fringe theater festival and Bloomsday, for all you literary fans.
Here's a rundown of some of the most famous or popular cultural festivals in Ireland:
  • Derry boasts the biggest Halloween Festival in the world with around 30,000 celebrating the ancient Celtic New Year every October. Grab a dodgy mask and join the party!     
  • The Belfast Festival at Queen’s is Ireland’s biggest International Festival and boasts an eclectic mix of music, talks, comedy, exhibitions and film.
  • The Galway Races, the Rose of Tralee Festival, Puck Fair in Killorglin, and the Oul’ Lammas Fair in Ballycastle are world famous and offer a great chance to enjoy life and laughs with the locals.   
  • Food festivals are now a big draw in Ireland with local produce scoring high among international foodies. Head to the famous oyster festivals in Clarenbridge in  Galway, or Hillsborough, County Down.   
  • Tune in to a spot of music with the Open House Festival in  Belfast, the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera, or the Feile an Phobail in west Belfast. Or grab a pint and tap your feet to some cool tunes at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival.     
  • If you prefer your festivals small and intimate, try the harp festivals in Roscommon or the rough and ready horse and pony fairs from  Cavan to Cork. Even today, the horses are priced in guineas, and bought and sold with a spit in the hand.     
  • At the other end of the scale lies the Wexford Opera Festival with full-scale opera productions, concerts, recitals, talks, cabaret, fireworks, and, of course, parties.    
  • For something a little different, try the Magnus Barelegs Festival in Downpatrick offering a slice of Viking life, or the Eagle Wing Festival in Groomsport, County Down, which celebrates Ireland’s cultural links with America.    
  • Thesps should head to Dublin for both the Dublin Theatre Festival and the excellent Dublin Fringe Festival, with wildly exciting performances taking place in fabulous venues.    
  • Around March 17, the country turns a shade of green for a host of St. Patrick’s Festivals. All over the country, from the Saint’s hallowed burial place in Downpatrick to the more carnival atmosphere of parades and exceptional fireworks in  Dublin and  Belfast.     
  • Literary lovers should head to Dublin in June for the intriguing Bloomsday Festival, where fans of Joyce’s Gargantuan "Ulysses" dress up in traditional gear and scoff old Dublin food like “nutty gizzards” and “urine-soaked kidneys”. Alternatively, seek out the delights of the Aspects Literature Festival in Bangor in September, an annual celebration of Irish literature with lectures, discussion and music.

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