Take a chance to let the hair down and go out for a bit of ‘craic’, take the opportunity to do something stimulating, new – or downright eccentric. From the local town and village festivals to massive celebrations and exciting vibes in the cities, where should you go, what should you see? Read on – here’s a guide through some of the best summer festivals in 2014.
A must for arts adventurers
Cork Midsummer Festival (21 – 30 June) has been one of Ireland’s leading international multi-disciplinary arts festivals since 1997. It transforms Cork, Ireland’s third biggest city, every June with a choc-full programme of local, national and international events including theatre, dance, opera, music, visual arts and outdoor arts.
This festival has mega reputation for presenting work in unusual and surprising locations, as well as in the city’s many well-appointed arts venues. Head for Cork Midsummer Festival and you could be on a boat in the harbour at 4.00am to see in the dawn, dancing with a stranger late at night in an empty shop unit, or maybe taking to the Cork Opera House stage.
Fantastic urban vibes
Every year acts from around the globe head to Dublin and Cork to compete for the Street Performance World Championship (Dublin, 11 – 13 July; Cork, 19 – 20 July). Get ready for an action-packed festival full to the brim with jaw-dropping jugglers, awe-inspiring acrobatics, spine-tingling sword swallowers. Balloon artists, food venders and all sorts of quirky art installations swell the fun-filled atmosphere in both cities.
In Dublin the action takes place in Merrion Square; in Cork it centres on Fitzgerald Park. The audiences vote for their favourite performers on site and the act with the most public votes in total is crowned champion. This one is a truly atmospheric festival that will take your breath away.
Unique Scots-Irish culture
A thunderous roar will resound from glen to glen for the Dalriada Festival in County Antrim (13 – 19 July). This culture fest is dedicated to the shared Irish-Scots heritage that makes Northern Ireland so distinctive. The setting is a joy – the grounds of Glenarm Castle in the rugged Glens of Antrim.
Epic artistry and culture
The Galway Arts Festival (14 – 27 July) is Ireland’s largest annual arts festival, taking place every July in the city of Galway on Ireland’s west coast.
Celebrating a literary giant
The Happy Days Festival (31 July – 10 August) celebrates the work and influence of Irish Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett. It takes place annually in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, where Beckett spent his formative years attending Portora Royal School.
International street arts
The Spraoi Festival is Ireland’s specialist street theatre and spectacle event, taking place in medieval Waterford (1 – 3 August). Spraoi, pronounced ‘spree’, is the Irish word for fun, exuberance and celebration, and this is the inspiration for some 200 street theatre and music performances, mostly free and family-friendly, taking place over the three festival days.
A true experience of Ireland
The All-Ireland Fleadh, the world’s greatest traditional Irish music festival returns to Sligo in 2014 (10 – 17 August).
(Source: Tourism Ireland)