Ireland's Best Festivals Throughout the Year

Irish festivals, they come in all shapes and sizes, and right through the year. Well, almost. But when visiting Ireland, you will certainly be-be spoilt for choice - there are literally hundreds of festivals going on throughout the year. With several dozens on an average summer weekend. From the local Country Fair to the massive celebrations in Dublin. Where should you go, what should you see?

One word of advice, though - if you plan top travel to any of these festivals, you would do well to book accommodation well in advance, maybe within easy driving distance. Most places get (over)booked early on, at extortionate prices. So if you do not want the stable boy's closet for 200 € a night, get into planning as soon as possible, it will pay off. And if you do not want to participate in any of the festivals "in the country", you might do well to avoid the places during the festivities. Because they will be overcrowded. And a nightmare to navigate.

  • 01 of 10
    Saint Patrick's Day, Ireland's Best-Known Festival - Always Good for a Holiday and a Hooley
    ••• Saint Patrick's Day, Ireland's Best-Known Festival - Always Good for a Holiday and a Hooley. © Bernd Biege 2016

    One of the few celebrations on St Patrick's Day (and the days surrounding March 17th) that reaches the dizzy heights of festivals in the USA - rural parades and festivals tend to be much more parochial and amateurish. If you want slick colorful fun, Dublin is the place to go. Flee the capital if your tastes run to quieter celebrations.

  • 02 of 10
    ••• Rona Proudfoot/Getty Images

    Ireland's national music festival and a feast for lovers of traditional folk. Held every year in late August at different locations and attracts legions of musicians and other performers.

  • 03 of 10
    ••• Michael St. Maur Sheil/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

    Sponsored by Fáilte Ireland this is the main equestrian event in Ireland. Showjumping, Dressage, and the exciting hunt chase are top-notch events every August. Apart from the best riders and horses competing for the Aga Khan Trophy you can see female visitors competing for the "Best Dressed" title on Ladies' Day.

  • 04 of 10
    ••• valeri byrne/Getty Images

    On (and around) July 12th Loyalists everywhere in Northern Ireland are celebrating King William's victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. With marchers, bands, and enormous bonfires. Republicans turn a blind eye or protest. Despite all sectarian tension, the celebrations are a sight to behold. Though not for the faint-hearted and definitely no place to discuss politics. For a "vanilla" version (it still is Orange, though), you might like to visit the Rossnowlagh parade in County Donegal.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    ••• Andy Goss/Getty Images

    The traditional highlight of the Easter Week for lovers of fast horses and high stakes - traffic jams around the tiny Meath hamlet of Fairyhouse and delighted "bookies" included. See the best horses and jockeys competing in the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday.

  • 06 of 10
    ••• Trish Punch/Getty Images

    Every year hundreds of singles and thousands of supporters flood the Clare town of Lisdoonvarna in September - to find the partner for life or to simply have a good time. Matchmakers match prospective partners in a time-honored tradition and everybody is happy. Or not. Some matches are not made in heaven ...

  • 07 of 10
    ••• Kevin R. Morris/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

    Held every year at the beginning of fall this is one of the best bluegrass festivals in Ireland and the only one in a congenial atmosphere. Stroll amongst American farmsteads and hear the sounds of the Appalachian folk culture. Definitely recommended for homesick travelers!

  • 08 of 10

    Killorglin Puck Fair

    ••• Peter Zoeller/Getty Images

    A goat is crowned king in the Kerry town of Killorglin and all hell breaks loose - not a plot for a cheap horror flick but a tradition with pagan roots. Still practiced for three days every August, on the 10th, 11th and 12th. Music, entertainment, and pageants range from the traditional to the modern. Don't miss the election of the "Queen of Puck"!

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    ••• Robert Daly/Getty Images

    Tens of thousands make the annual pilgrimage to Croke Park bedecked in their county's colors - every September sees the All-Ireland Finals in the Gaelic sports of hurling and football. Even if you do not understand the rules, the pace of the games is breathtaking. And the enthusiasm of the fans unrivaled.

  • 10 of 10
    ••• Cheryl Maeder/Getty Images

    A beauty pageant of saccharine sweetness with Irish colleens from all over the world competing for the title of the "Rose of Tralee" (named after a traditional, very sentimental song). Nobody in Ireland admits to watching the contest, yet the live programs on RTÉ regularly are amongst the most popular TV events every August!