So, you want to join the party in Ireland in 2016? No problem, as here follows a comprehensive list of festivals and events, worth keeping your eyes open, and your calendar free for. Sorted month by month in strictly chronological order. Not all may be your cup of tea, but there should be something for everyone.
Festivals in Ireland - January 2016
Out to Lunch - January 8th to 31st - Belfast
With people as diverse as Hazel O'Connor and Attile the Stockbroker appearing, the Belfast festival kicks off the year 2016 with a wide-ranging smorgasbord of music, spoken word, and comedy - to chase away the winter blues. And to make you think.
More Information on their website - cqaf.com
Temple Bar Tradfest - January 27th to 31st - Dublin
Traditional and not so traditional (and not only Irish) music played in the middle of Dublin, bringing life into the city. Acts announced include Dougie MacLean (yes, him, of "Caledonia" fame), Duke Special, the Stunning, Foster & Allen, Martin Hayes, and even old warhorse Gilbert O'Sullivan ...
More Information on their website - templebartrad.com
Festivals in Ireland - February 2016
Dublin Chinese New Year Festival - around February 8th - Dublin
Now in its ninth year, the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival will again showcase Chinese culture and heritage. So say farewell to the Sheep, and hello to the Monkey! Just wondering ... would that be Sun Wukong?
More information on the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival 2016 coming soon ...
Cork International Poetry Festival - February 10th to 13th - Cork City
Poetry in Munster - from big names to absolute beginners. all coming to the Cork Arts Theatre for the Munster Literature Centre's yearly festival. It will put a poetic spring in your step, so to say.
More Information on their website - corkpoetryfest.net
Jameson Dublin Film Festival - February 18th to 28th - Dublin
Always a good place to see new films that won't make it (more than likely) into your local multi-screen complex ... from the experimental to the obscure, from well-known names to (up to now, at least) unknown nobodies wielding camcorders.
More Information on their website - jdiff.com
Clonakilty Games Festival - February 19th to 21st - Clonakilty
From backgammon to chess, with Monopoly thrown in (might be a reminder of those wild "Celtic Tiger" years were many Irish burned real money in a property ponzi), it is time to play. A spread of food and drink is laid in as well, guess the famous black pudding will make an appearance too.
More Information on the Facebook page of the Clonakilty Games Festival
Festivals in Ireland - March 2016
Belfast Nashville - March 2nd to 6th - Belfast
Well, as the name says, y'all will listen to American music, folks. From country to western, with blues and rock thrown in. Expect the appearance of singers and songwriters from both sides of the Atlantic ... from old school to alt-country.
More Information on their website - belfastnashville.com
Offset - March 8th to 10th - Dublin
All sorts of graphic artists - from illustrators to animators with a smattering of graphic designers and production people thrown in - the international mix of creativity and commerce will convene in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
More Information on their website - iloveoffset.com
Mountains to Sea DLR Book Festival - March 9th to 13th - Dún Laoghaire
A literary festival that will be showcasing Dún Laoghaire's exciting (though not universally acclaimed) new library and the recently built cultural centre. Near the seafront, so expect a fresh wind in many ways.
More Information on their website - mountainstosea.ie
Saint Patrick's Festival - March 17th to 20th - Dublin
While everyone seems to think first of the US import, the huge parade with (mostly imported) marching bands, the festival in honour of Ireland's patron saint has so much more to offer. From street performances to poems, from themed walking tours to traditional storytelling, a funfair, and so on. Dublin will be "Patrick Central" again, a quieter day may be enjoyed in the provinces ...
More Information on the one website to bind them all - stpatricksfestival.ie
Festivals in Ireland - April 2016
One City One Book - April - Dublin
Running all month, the Dublin event will try to explore one book ... "Fallen" by Lia Mills, a love story in times of war (as in "Great War") and unrest (as in "Easter Rising"). Associated events will pop up in and around Dublin all through April, be warned.
More Information on their website - dublinonecityonebook.ie
Cúirt - April 19th to 25th - Galway
Guest speakers from the literary world will again grace the stage. Expect a mixed, varied and often surprising programme including poetry, fiction and all sorts of writing, and art, and a lot more ...
More Information on their website - cuirt.ie
Cork International Choral Festival - April 27th to May 1st - Cork City
A wealth of choirs from around the world will once again head for Cork City and participate in what is now regarded as one of (at least) Europe's top choral festivals. Choir concerts, choir competitions and a performance by Sweden's stunning "The Real Group" are on the menu.
More Information on their website - corkchoral.ie
Festivals in Ireland - May 2016
Dublin Dance Festival - May 17th to 28th - Dublin
Dancers will transform many parts of Dublin into a stage and mesmerise the viewers.
More Information on their website - dublindancefestival.ie
International Literature Festival Dublin - May 21st to 29th - Dublin
Writers from both Ireland and foreign shores will head for the capital and some literary venues, mainly the National Library, the James Joyce Museum and Tower, the Long Room in Trinity College's Old Library and the Chester Beatty Library. Readings, discussions, workshops and film screenings (of all things) will aim to highlight the book as a still valid, more than ever exciting medium.
More Information on their website - ilfdublin.com
Festivals in Ireland - June 2016
Live at the Marquee - June and July - Cork City
The annual music event is a festival "in stages", more a string of individual concerts than anything else. But the choice they are offering is simply mouthwatering. Amongst this year's performers are Dropkick Murphys, rural crowdpleaser Nathan Carter, fleet-footed Michael Flatley, and ... the Coronas.
More Information on the promoter's website - Aiken Promotions
Listowel Writers' Week - June 1st to 5th - Listowel
Workshops, talks, readings ... the whoile literary spectrum.
More Information on their website - writersweek.ie
Rory Gallagher International Festival - June 2nd to 5th - Ballyshannon
Ireland's one (and maybe only) great blues guitarist is once more commemorated through a sprawling weekend involving open-air concerts, covered venues, blues sessions galore, and exhibitions on the man himself in the seaside town of Ballyshannon.
More Information on their website - rorygallagherfestival.com
Sky Cat Laughs - June 2nd to 6th - Kilkenny
Many less well known, but also some household names - comedians and those into comedy will head for Kilkenny City for the revived festival, now in its 4th rebooted year. And still laughing.
More Information on their website - thecatlaughs.com
Éigse Carlow Arts Festival - June 10th to 19th - Carlow Town
Now in its 37th year, this local arts festival brings exhibitions on a grand scale to the Visual Centre for Contemporary Art, fireworks over the river Barrow, mixed with a comprehensive music programme and some choice theatrical offerings to boot.
More Information on their website - carlowartsfestival.com
Borris House Festival of Writing and Ideas - June 11th and 12th
Borris House near the Blackstairs Mountains in County Carlow is the location for an array of speakers on themes that range from the pleasant to provocation.
More Information on their website - festivalofwritingandideas.com
Bloomsday - June 16th - Dublin
More of the usual, as aficionados and posers alike step out in the footsteps of Leopold Bloom, reciting Joyce whom they never read, most of them, in entirety, concentrating on the juicy bits with Molly and the Gorgonzola sandwich as well, meandering from dawn to dusk through Dublin, so hated and loved by the writer ... that's Bloomsday in a nutshell.
More Information on the most Joycean website of them all - jamesjoyce.ie
Immrama - June 16th to 19th - Lismore
Travel is the key word in the charming heritage town of Lismore in County Waterford, a travel destination in its own right and host to this fascinating festival of travel writing. Let your fantasy take flight, guided by some of the best travel writers in the business.
More Information on their website - lismoreimmrama.com
Sea Sessions - June 24th to 26th - Bundoran
The seaside resort of Bundoran in County Donegal reinvents itself as the northern Mecca of surfing, skating and music. A very vibrant and young festival, with loads of tanned, beautiful people (and some lobster-red new enthusiasts thrown in).
More Information on their website - seasessions.com
Festivals in Ireland - July 2016
West Cork Chamber Music Festival - July 1st to 9th - County Cork
Maybe Ireland's best chamber music event, nearly fifty concerts featuring well-known chamber musicians are spread over time and space. Venues include Saint Brendan's Church and Bantry House More Information on their website - westcorkmusic.ie
Groove - July 2nd and 3rd - Bray
This festival in the County Wicklow seaside resort has certainly already made an impact. The grounds of Kilruddery House are where the action will be at. Expect the usual wild mixture ...
More Information on their website - groovefestival.ie
Galway International Arts Festival - July 11th to 24th - Galway City
Galway puts on a special glow during the annual festival season. Which promises a "creative collision at the edge of Europe". Colliding will be, amongst others, Bell X1. With dance, theatre and all sorts of spectacle from near and far complementing a music programme and many open-air parties in the streets.
More Information on their website - giaf.ie
Longitude - July 15th to 17th - Dublin
Festival in Dublin's Marlay Park - acts for 2016 yet to be confirmed.
More Information on their website - longitude.ie
West Cork Literary Festival - July 18th to 22nd - County Cork
Workshops will include a Fiction Masterclass with Claire Keegan, Poetry with Jo Shapcott, Journalism with Christina Lamb, Playwriting with Carmel Winters, "Words Allowed" with Dave Lordan, and "Wild Women Writing" with Magi Gibson. You'll be producing a potential bestseller in no time.
More Information on their website - westcorkmusic.ie
Dublin Horse Show - July 20th to 24th - Dublin
Crafts, fashion, prices for the best-dressed ladies, live music, gourmet food, showjumping, hurdles, horses, all at the Dublin Horseshow in the RDS Showgrounds. A society event in Dublin, not just for the equine set.
More Information on their website - dublinhorseshow.com
Indiependence - July 29th to 31st - Mitchelstown
Indie rock festival in County Cork - acts for 2016 to be confirmed.
More Information on their website - indiependencefestival.com
Spraoi - July 29th to 31st to August 2nd - Waterford City
The festival is named using the Irish word for "exuberance", and the cup certainly overfloweth here - with street theatre being the main thing, a massive parade and loads of of newly-commissioned works.
More Information on their website - spraoi.com
Festivals in Ireland - August 2016
Kilkenny Arts Festival - August 5th to 14th - Kilkenny City
The "medieval" streets of Kilkenny will play host to all sorts of shenanigans that can be covered by the blanket term "art", from serious theatre to street musicians after the fast buck. Expect some well-known names, some surprises and lots of people in a small city.
More Information on their website - kilkennyarts.ie
Puck Fair - August 10th to 12th - Killorglin
There'll be busking, set dancing, traditional singing and a goat at County Kerry's most traditional festival. More than 400 years old, but still going strong.
More Information on their website - puckfair.ie
Fleadh Ceoil na hEireann - August 14th to 22nd - Ennis
The national traditional music festival comes to Ennis - with around 10,000 musicians and an expected 300,000 music lovers to listen to them. You might want to take it in sparingly - an overdose of traditional music is easily accumulated during the annual event.
More Information on their website - fleadhcheoil.ie
Masters of Tradition - August 17th to 21st - Bantry
The 2016 Masters of Tradition in West Cork will host some of the very best musicians in the land, giving you the full spectrum of Irish traditional music in a most authentic form. The festival is curated by Martin Hayes, renowned fiddler from East Clare.
More Information on their website - westcorkmusic.ie
The Rose of Tralee - August 17th to 23rd - Tralee
A rose by any other name is not the Rose of Tralee ... Ireland's answer to every beauty and talent contest that has ever been, with the "lovely girls" required to be squeaky clean and, above all, Irish. Even is they are from foreign fields ...
More Information on their website - roseoftralee.ie
Belfast Mela - August 27th and 28th - Belfast
The capital of Northern Ireland has become more and more multicultural, and the Belfast Mela is a key event to highlight and celebrate this. Originally created by members of the Indian community, it has become an all-inclusive event. Offering something for everyone. Starting with entertainment, mixing in some commerce and information and culminating in a lot of good food.
Festivals in Ireland - September 2016
Electric Picnic - September 2nd to 4th - Stradbally Estate
Thomas Cosby once again invites choice musicians and entertainers as well as the (paying) public onto his front lawn in County Laois - line-up for 2016 still to be announced.
More Information on their website - electricpicnic.ie
Harvest Time Blues - September 2nd to 4th - Monaghan Town
While the tractors will be rumbling, the small county town will have the blues. As in music, not as in depression settling in. The old Market House and a specially erected marquee are the centre of the whole happening, but the blues trail will wind its way through town.
More Information on their website - harvestblues.ie
Clifden Arts Festival - September 15th to 25th - Clifden
The community arts week of the remote Connemara town involves readings, music, recitals, theatre and comedy - plus the stunning landscape around the town.
More Information on their website - clifdenartsweek.ie
National Ploughing Championships - September 20th to 22nd - Screggan, Tullamore
Pack your wellies if you are heading for this agricultural event in County Offaly ... but expect more than tractors, ploughs, and culchies, like sheepdog trials ... but also craft demonstrations, good (and mostly traditional) food and exhibitions ranging from amateur art to livestock keeping ... a real family event that packs the crowds!
More Information on their website - npa.ie
Dublin Theatre Festival - September 29th to October 16th - Dublin
Five hundred or more performances, more than twenty venues, all the world's truly a stage in Dublin around this time. Still going strong in its 57th incarnation and offering more of the usual - a mix of old favourites and new stuff. Including the new translation of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" done by Roddy Doyle ...
More Information on their website - dublintheatrefestival.com
Festivals in Ireland - October 2016
Sligo Live - October 26th to 31st - Sligo
Traditional music and more - mixing in folk, roots and indie bands. Line-up to be confirmed for 2016.
More Information on their website - sligolive.ie
Guinness Cork Jazz Festival - October 28th to 31st - Cork City
Performing artists for 2016 to be yet confirmed.
More Information on their website - guinnessjazzfestival.com
Wexford Festival Opera - October 26th to November 6th - Wexford Town
This years' playlist is to include te operas "Herculanum", "Vanessa", and "Maria de Rudenz" ... no, I haven't heard of those works either. Which actually makes the festival an interesting event.
More Information on their website - wexfordopera.com
Festivals in Ireland - November 2016
Corona Cork Film Festival - November 11th to 20th - Cork City
Film and animation as usual, with the exact programme for 2016 yet to be confirmed.
More Information on their website - corkfilmfest.org
Festivals in Ireland - December 2016
Christmas Markets - until December 23rd
Take in a Christmas market this month, with Belfast coming especially recommended: