With tourism numbers soaring in 2015, Ireland is set for another record year of visitors – a standout year in Irish history with plenty of music, art, dance and culture to keep you entertained.
With so many incredible festivals and celebrations to chose from, you could visit Ireland at any time of the year and you’re sure to happen across something that will create memories of a lifetime. Just to help you along, however, we take a look at some of the highlights we’re looking forward to in 2016.
1. Temple Bar Tradfest (January 27-31, 2016, Dublin)
Just as we’re recovering from Christmas and some of us are reaching the end of a dry January, Temple Bar Tradfest will begin to welcome us all back to the festivities. Warming us up with exceptional music and dance, we’ll be ready to twirl out of our winter hibernation.
Running from January 27-31, 2016’s Tradfest showcases a full spectrum of folk and traditional music in some of Dublin’s most unique venues. This year will see Duke Special, Martin Hayes, and The Fureys take to the stage among a packed lineup.
2. Adele (March 4 and March 5, 3arena, Dublin)
Not only is Ireland the home of an incredible traditional music scene, but it also has great concert venues and big names for all genres of music. Pop superstar Adele is one of the biggest names who will grace Irish soil in the coming year with four sell out shows – Belfast on February 29 and March 1 and the 3arena in Dublin on March 4 and 5. Even if you can’t grab a ticket, Adele-mania will ensure a good night out in Dublin and most likely one or two dodgy cover jobs you may want to avoid.
3. St. Patrick’s Day Festival (March 17 - 26, 2016, Dublin)
A far cry from the controversy that surrounds the New York parade, the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day festival is an international festival that acts as “an exciting showcase for the manifold skills of the people of Ireland, of every age and social background.”
In a country bursting with creative energy, the festival harnesses the passion and pride of all Irish people into a more accurate expression of what we each feel to be Irish. What with the main parade, the céilí, the funfairs, the literature, music, film, spoken word, design, visual art and more, there’s a little bit of Irish culture to suit everybody.
4. Ravelóid (June 10 - 11, 2016, Dublin)
Ravelóid (a play on the Irish word “réabhlóid” meaning revolution) is Ireland’s latest music festival happening for the first time in 2016 and placing the Irish language at center stage. Taking place at Ardgillan Castle, Dublin, from June 10 to June 11, Ravelóid has camping facilities for 5,000 attendees to enjoy a dynamic mixture of contemporary and traditional music, comedy, dance, literature, discussions, and workshops, all over five stages.
So far the Irish music acts include Seo Linn, Mundy, Hot House Flowers, Altan, and Kíla.
You can follow the lead up to Ravelóid or get yourself a weekend Early Bird ticket for $109 (€99). More artists are set to be revealed in 2016.
Tá an Ravelóid ag teacht. (The Ravelóid is coming.)
5. Galway Arts Festival (July 11 - 24, 2016, Galway City)
Although the capital city has a lot to offer, we would be foolish to forget about the beautiful Town of the Tribes and the highlight of Ireland’s arts calendar. The Galway Arts Festival is further proof that the city in the west can rival the capital any day when it comes to a unique and invigorating cultural experience. Street parties, silent discos, comedy shows, plays and live gigs are all part of this festival, which showcases the best Galway and Ireland has to offer and it’s on for a full two weeks!
A perfect stop-off break while traveling the Wild Atlantic Way or exploring Connemara, the festival takes place in July with Irish band Bell X1 announced as one of the first participants.
6. American Football in Dublin (September 3, 2016, Dublin)
The Aer Lingus College Football Classic will return to Ireland in 2016 with Boston College facing Georgia Tech on September 3 in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
The 48,000 capacity stadium will host the two college teams as American College Football returns to Ireland for the third time in five years. This will be the second time Boston College has played in Ireland when they kick off their season in September. In 1988 they beat Army at the old Lansdowne Road stadium.
There’s no better place than Dublin on gameday, as anybody who’s attended an All-Ireland Final can attest, and you won’t want to miss this American football Dublin takeover.
Game tickets will go on sale in the US on February 3, 2016, and you’d want to be quick. In 2012, general tickets sold out in four hours in Ireland!
7. Banks of the Foyle Halloween Festival (October 31, 2016, Derry, Co. Derry)
One of the largest Halloween celebrations in Europe, the Banks of the River Foyle Halloween Festival welcomes 25,000 people annually, as the ghostly river gods rise from the Foyle and spread spooky happenings all over the City of Bones.
Dress in your scariest costume and bring the family along to any of the plays, haunted houses, shows, fireworks, or to the biggest Halloween parade in Europe. The festival brings together a multitude of different international celebrations, enabling you to celebrate Samhain, Halloween, and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) all in one place.
8. New Year’s Eve Festival in Dublin (December 30 - January 1, 2016/2017)
Round off a fantastic year by spending your New Year’s in Dublin!
The capital city is fast becoming a prime destination for those looking for something a bit different on New Year’s Eve and if the end of 2015 is anything to go by, 2016 will come to a great end.
The 2015 NYE event ran from December 30, 2015 right into 2016 and included saw a spoken word festival, live music, cultural trails, 3D light projects, a countdown concert in the 3arena and a streetfest, before 2016 started off right with a nice 5km run and a world record bodhrán attempt.
9. Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink
In 2016 you can get a taste of the incredible food and drink that Northern Ireland has to offer. Celebrating the tastiest produce, including the Bramley apple and the Lough Neagh eel, it is set to become a foodie’s paradise for 366 days with events happening all over Northern Ireland throughout the year.
You can view a full list of events here, but highlights include the Mourne Seafood Cookery School, the Comber Farmers’ Market and the Belfast Out to Lunch Festival in January.
10. 1916 Centenary
No list would be complete without a mention of the 1916 Easter Rising centenary events taking place all over the world in 2016.
Remembering one of the most influential events in Ireland, the Irish government has committed to producing a year of rich and diverse activities and events set to reflect on the past hundred years in Irish history.
Some of the highlights include the opening of the GPO Witness History Center (also featured on IrishCentral today) along with lectures, music, drama, publications and festivals remembering all those involved in and affected by the Rising.
Is there any special reason you are looking forward to visiting Ireland in 2016? Will this be a first visit of new adventures or are you traveling a well-worn path? Tell us your own Ireland 2016 story.