Autumn is one of the best times to visit Ireland, with many festivals and events being held throughout the season. National Geographic, one of our all-time favorite travel resources, has a list of the top ten things to do in Ireland during the fall.
Here are some of the things not to miss:
1. Listen to traditional Irish music
Several traditional Irish music festivals are held in the fall throughout Ireland.
The Mountshannon Traditional Festival in Clare runs in September and includes music workshops, pub sessions, and a song competition.
The three-day John Dwyer Trad Weekend is held in mid-October as part of Waterford’s Imagine Arts Festival.
The William Kennedy Piping Festival, named after an 18th-century blind piper and pipe maker, takes place in mid-November in County Armagh. The festival focuses on the uilleann pipes with a piping academy, concerts, sessions, reed making and pipe maintenance workshops.
2. Tour the tombs at Glasnevin Cemetery
More than 1.5 million people have been laid to rest in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery since 1832. Take a tour of the cemetery and learn about the famous Irish people buried there, including the “Great Liberator” Daniel O’Connell and slain revolutionary leader Michael Collins.
Afterward, step in for a drink at John Kavanagh, also known as The Gravediggers, where pub workers would pass pints to the gravediggers through cemetery railings.
3. Participate in a walking festival
See Ireland in all its autumn splendor by joining a walking festival and explore hidden landscapes.
The Fermanagh Walking Festival is held in October and brings participants to the top of Cuilcagh Mountain. The 2,182-foot ascent offers 360-degree scenic views of the region.
Also in October, the Footfalls Wicklow Walking Festival is a four-day event offering eight hikes of three different levels of difficulty. Hikes might include a visit to Glendalough’s sixth-century monastic settlement, Wicklow Gap, or St. Kevin’s Way.
4. Go ghost hunting
Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast held hardcore prisoners, including many death row convicts, from 1845 to 1996. The prison offers daily tours year round, but in October, you can take the spooky nighttime Paranormal Tour, which includes a look at the flogging room and visits areas in the prison known for paranormal activity.
5. Celebrate the author of "Dracula"
The Bram Stoker Festival celebrates the Dublin author of the 1897 novel "Dracula" with literary events, concerts of Gothic-inspired music, theatrical events, performances, ghost walking tours and, this year, a Gothic Ball.
6. Attend sporting events
Enjoy a Gaelic football or hurling game in the fall. The All-Ireland Senior Championship Finals plays in Dublin’s Croke Park in September. You can also visit the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) Museum at Croke Park to learn about the history of the game and visit team dressing rooms and run through the player's tunnel during a stadium tour.
7. Take in Northern Ireland’s arts scene
Belfast showcases its vibrant art scene during several fall festivals.
Culture Night Belfast offers around 240 free performances, workshops, gallery openings, concerts and tours for one intense Friday night each year in mid-September.
Launched more than 50 years ago, the Belfast Festival at Queen’s is a two-week event held in October featuring music performances, premieres, and more.
8. Enjoy a fall harvest festival
The Waterford Harvest Festival, held in mid-September, offers food samples, cooking demonstrations, workshops, food displays, and live music.
The National Ploughing Championships, covering 700 acres, is one of the biggest outdoor farming events in Europe. Held toward the end of September, the event, which was established in 1931, features competitions, livestock shows, sheep dog trials,the All-Ireland Lamb Shearing contest, and the National Brown Bread Baking Competition.
9. Attend a horse racing festival
Multi-day horse race festivals in Ireland include the Listowel Harvest Festival in September and the Northern Ireland Festival of Racing in November at Lisburns’ Down Royal Racecourse.
10. Visit autumn gardens
Mount Stewart Gardens in Newtownards, County Down was named one of the top ten gardens in the world by the Daily Telegraph. Head gardener Neil Porteous leads a special behind the scenes tour in early November. An Autumn Fair is held in early October and, during the first three weekends in November, the Festival of Lights transforms the grounds with colorful lights and fairy music.
Brigit’s Garden in Rosscahill, Galway, offers a Harvest Feast in October to celebrate the best local, seasonal and wild Irish food.