World ? Europe ? Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland: Calendar of Events

This sampling of events is drawn from 2007 schedules. Most events have not set their 2008 dates at the time this book is being written. The most up-to-date listings of events can be found at www.discoverireland.ie and www.entertainment.ie for Ireland, and www.eventguide.ie and www.visitdublin.com for Dublin.

January

Funderland. Royal Dublin Society, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. An annual indoor funfair, complete with white-knuckle rides, carnival stalls, and family entertainment (tel. 061/419988; www.funfair.ie). December/January.

Yeats Winter School. Sligo Park Hotel, Sligo Town. This event offers a weekend of relaxation, lectures, and a tour of Yeats Country (tel. 071/42693; fax 071/42780; www.yeats-sligo.com). Late January.

February

Six Nations Rugby Tournament. Lansdowne Road, Ballsbridge, County Dublin. This annual international tourney includes Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, France, and Italy. It's a brilliant atmosphere, be it at Lansdowne Road or a neighborhood pub. Contact Irish Rugby Football Union, 62 Lansdowne Rd., Dublin 4 (tel. 01/668-4601; fax 01/660-5640). Alternate Saturdays, early February to April.

Antiques and Collectibles Fair. Newman House, 85 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2. About 60 dealers sell small pieces and collectors' items (tel./fax 01/670-8295; antiquesfairsireland@esatclear.ie). Four consecutive Sundays in February.

All Ireland Dancing Championships. INEC, Killarney, County Kerry. Winners here automatically go on to the World Dancing Championship (tel. 01/475-2220; fax 01/475-1053; cirg@tinet.ie). February.

Dublin International Film Festival. Irish Film Centre, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, and various cinemas in Dublin. More than 100 films are featured, with screenings of the best in Irish and world cinema, plus seminars and lectures on filmmaking (tel. 01/679-2937; www.dubliniff.com). Late Feb.

March

Bridge House Irish Festival. Bridge House Hotel and Leisure Centre, Tullamore, County Offaly. Ireland's biggest indoor festival celebrates good Irish food, song, and dance. There's free entertainment featuring national and international acts (tel. 57/932-5000; www.bridgehouse.com). Early March.

St. Patrick's Dublin Festival. Held around St. Patrick's Day itself, this massive 4-day festival is open, free, and accessible to everyone. Street theater, carnival acts, sports, music, fireworks, and other festivities culminate in Ireland's grandest parade, with marching bands, drill teams, floats, and delegations from around the world (tel. 01/676-3205; fax 01/676-3208; www.stpatricksday.ie). On and around March 17.

St. Patrick's Day Parades. In celebration of Ireland's patron saint. All over Ireland, north and south. March 17.

Samhlaȷocht Chiarrai/Kerry Arts Festival. A spring festival of music, drama, film, dance, literature, craft, and visual art (tel. 066/712-9934; fax 066/712-0934; www.samhlaiocht.com). March/April.

April

Pan Celtic Festival. County Donegal. For 5 days, the wider Celtic family (including Cornwall, Isle of Man, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany) unites for culture, song, dance, sports, and parades with marching bands and pipers. There are also lots of fringe events, from nature walks to poetry readings (www.panceltic.ie). March/April.

World Irish Dancing Championships. Waterfront Hotel, Belfast. The premier international competition in Irish dancing features more than 4,000 contenders from as far as New Zealand (tel. 01/475-2220; fax 01/475-1053; cirg@tinet.ie). April.

May

County Wicklow Gardens Festival. In the county known as the "garden of Ireland," stately heritage properties and gardens open their gates to visitors on selected dates. Contact Wicklow County Tourism (tel. 0404/20070; www.visitwicklow.ie). Entire summer, starting in May.

Belfast City Marathon. An epic, 42km (26-mile) race of 6,000 international runners through the city. It starts and finishes at Maysfield Leisure Centre (tel. 028/9027-0345; www.belfastcitymarathon.com). Early May.

May Day Races. Down Royal Racecourse, Maze, Lisburn, County Antrim. One of the major events on the horse-racing calendar (tel. 028/9262-1256; www.downroyal.com). Early May.

Diversions Temple Bar. Dublin 2. This is an all-free, all-outdoor, all-ages cultural program, featuring a combination of day and night performances in dance, film, theater, music, and visual arts. Beginning in May and lasting throughout summer, the Diversions program includes live music, open-air films, and a circus (tel. 01/677-2255; fax 01/677-2525; www.temple-bar.ie). May to August.

June

Waterford Maritime Festival. Quays of Waterford City. The highlight of this 4-day celebration over the June bank holiday weekend is an international round-trip powerboat race from Waterford to Swansea, Wales. Other events include close-to-shore kayak races, open-air concerts, and family entertainment. Representatives from Irish, British, French, and Dutch naval fleets in Waterford Harbor (tel. 051/304114). Late May/early June.

Murphy's Cat Laughs Comedy Festival. Various venues in Kilkenny Town. An international festival of stand-up comedy. Past performers include North America's Bill Murray, George Wendt, and Emo Phillips, and Ireland's Ardal O'Hanlon (tel. 056/63416; fax 056/63679; www.thecatlaughs.com). Late May/early June.

AIB Music Festival in Great Irish Houses. Various venues throughout counties Dublin, Wicklow, and Kildare. This 10-day festival of classical music performed by leading Irish and world-renowned international artists is intimately set in the receiving rooms of stately buildings and mansions (tel. 01/278-1528; fax 01/278-1529). Early June.

Bloomsday Festival. Various venues in Dublin. This unique day of festivity celebrates Leopold Bloom, the central character of James Joyce's Ulysses. Every aspect of the city, including the menus at restaurants and pubs, duplicates the aromas, sights, sounds, and tastes of Joyce's fictitious Dublin on June 16, 1904, the day when all of the action in Ulysses takes place. Ceremonies are held at the James Joyce Tower and Museum, and there are guided walks of Joycean sights. Contact the James Joyce Centre, 35 N. Great George's St., Dublin 1 (tel. 01/878-8547; fax 01/878-8488; www.jamesjoyce.ie). June 16.

Cork Midsummer Arts Festival. Emmet Place, Cork City. The program includes musical performances and traditional Irish cȳilȷ bands, and always has a strong literary content. Bonfire nights are particularly popular (tel. 021/455-0946; fax 021/427-5874; www.corkfestival.com). Mid- to late June.

Killarney SummerFest. Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney, County Kerry. This (mainly rock) music festival gets bigger every year and is one of the highlights of the Irish summer of music. Past performers have included Bryan Adams and Sheryl Crow. Fringe events include street entertainment and art workshops. For tickets, contact www.ticketmaster.ie. June/July.

Budweiser Irish Derby. The Curragh, County Kildare. It's one of the richest horse races in Europe, and widely accepted as the definitive European middle-distance classic. This is Ireland's version of the Kentucky Derby or Royal Ascot and is a fashionable gathering (Hint: jackets for men, posh hats for women) of racing fans from all over the world (tel. 045/441205; fax 045/441442). Note: It's a good idea to prebook tickets at www.curragh.ie. June 26.

July

Battle of the Boyne Commemoration. Belfast and other cities. This annual event, often called Orangeman's Day, recalls the historic battle between two 17th-century kings. It's a national day of parades and celebration by Protestants all over Northern Ireland. Contact the House of Orange, 65 Dublin Rd., Belfast BT2 7HE (tel. 028/9032-2801). July 12.

Oxegen. Punchestown Racecourse, County Kildare. This (mainly rock) music festival is now one of Europe's premier summer music fests, with nearly 100 acts playing on five stages over the duration of a weekend. Previous headliners have included ColdPlay and Counting Crows. For tickets, contact www.ticketmaster.ie or www.oxegen.ie. Early July.

Galway Arts Festival and Races. Galway City and Racecourse. This 2-week fest is a shining star on the Irish arts scene, featuring international theater, big-top concerts, literary evenings, street shows, arts, parades, music, and more. The famous Galway Races follow, with 5 more days of racing and merriment, music, and song (tel. 091/566577; fax 091/562655; www.galwayartsfestival.ie). Mid-July.

Lughnasa Fair. Carrickfergus Castle, County Antrim. A spectacular revival with a 12th-century Norman castle and its grounds, this event features people in period costumes, medieval games, traditional food, entertainment, and crafts (tel. 028/4336-6455). Late July.

August

Kerrygold Horse Show. RDS Showgrounds, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. This is the most important equestrian and social event on the Irish national calendar. Aside from the dressage and jumping competitions each day, highlights include a fashionable ladies' day, formal hunt balls each evening, and the awarding of the Aga Khan Trophy and the Nation's Cup (tel. 01/668-0866; fax 01/660-4014; www.rds.ie). Early August.

Kilkenny Arts Festival. Kilkenny Town. This weeklong event has it all, from classical and traditional music to plays, one-person shows, readings, films, poetry, and art exhibitions (tel. 056/52175; fax 056/51704; www.kilkennyarts.ie). August.

Puck Fair. Killorglin, County Kerry. One of Ireland's oldest festivals. Each year the residents of this tiny Ring of Kerry town capture a wild goat and enthrone it as "king" over 3 days of merrymaking that include open-air concerts, horse fairs, parades, and fireworks (tel./fax 066/976-2366; www.puckfair.ie). Early August.

Rose of Tralee International Festival. Tralee, County Kerry. A gala atmosphere prevails at this 5-day event, with a full program of concerts, street entertainment, horse races, and a beauty and talent pageant leading up to the televised selection of the "Rose of Tralee" (tel. 066/712-1322; fax 066/22654; http://roseoftralee.ie). Late August.

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival. Lisdoonvarna, County Clare. Still the biggest and best singles' event after all these years. A traditional "bachelor" festival carries on in the lovely spa town of Lisdoonvarna, with lots of wonderful music and dance (tel. 065/707-4005; fax 065/707-4406; www.matchmakerireland.com). August/September.

September

National Heritage Week. More than 400 events are held throughout the country -- walks, lectures, exhibitions, music recitals, and more (tel. 01/647-2455; www.heritageireland.ie). Early September.

All-Ireland Hurling and Gaelic Football Finals. Croke Park, Dublin 3. The finals of Ireland's most beloved sports, hurling and Gaelic football, are Ireland's equivalent of the Super Bowl. If you can't be at Croke Park, experience this in the full bonhomie of a pub. Tickets can be obtained through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.ie (tel. 01/836-3222; fax 01/836-6420). September.

Fleadh Cheoil na hȁireann. Tullamore, County Offaly. Ireland's premier summer festival of traditional music since 1951, with competitions held to select the all-Ireland champions in all categories of instruments and singing (tel. 01/280-0295; fax 01/280-3759; www.comhaltas.com). Late August/early September.

Irish Antique Dealers' Fair. RDS Showgrounds, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Ireland's premier annual antiques fair, with hundreds of dealers from all over the island (tel. 01/285-9294). Late September.

Galway International Oyster Festival. Galway and environs. Find out why London's Sunday Times put it on its "Top 12 World's Best Event List." A haven for oyster aficionados from across the globe, highlights include the World Oyster Opening Championship, a golf tournament, a yacht race, an art exhibition, a gala banquet, traditional music, and, of course, lots of oyster eating (tel. 091/522066; fax 091/527282; www.galwayoysterfest.com). Late September.

October

Dublin Theatre Festival. Theaters throughout Dublin. Showcases for new plays by every major Irish company (including the Abbey and the Gate), plus a range of productions from abroad (tel. 01/677-8439; fax 01/679-7709; www.dublintheatrefestival.com). First 2 weeks in October.

Kinsale International Gourmet Festival. Kinsale, County Cork. The foodie capital of Ireland hosts this well-respected annual fest, featuring special menus in all the restaurants and plenty of star chefs in town from abroad (tel. 021/477-4026; fax 021/477-4438). October.

Murphy's Cork International Film Festival. Cinemas throughout Cork. Ireland's oldest and biggest film festival offers a plethora of international features, documentaries, short films, and special programs (tel. 021/427-1711; fax 021/427-5945; www.corkfilmfest.org). Mid-October.

BaborɃ International Arts Festival for Children. Galway. A fun-filled, educational festival geared to kids 3 to 12 years old, with theater, music, dance, museum exhibitions, and literary events (tel. 091/509705; fax 091/562655; www.baboro.ie). Late October.

Wexford Festival Opera. Theatre Royal, Wexford City. Now in its 55th year, this is not your average stuffy opera festival. Famous as much for the jubilant, informal atmosphere as for the acclaimed productions of lesser-known 18th- and 19th-century operatic masterpieces, there are also classical music concerts, recitals, and more on offer (tel. 053/22400; fax 053/424289; www.wexfordopera.com). Late October/early November.

Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. Cork City. Ireland's number-two city stages a first-rate festival of jazz, with an international lineup of live acts playing in hotels, concert halls, and pubs (tel. 021/427-8979; fax 021/427-0463; www.corkjazzfestival.com). (Meanwhile, not to be outdone, nearby Kinsale plays host to its own, concurrent fringe jazz festival.) October.

Belfast Festival at Queens. Queens University, Belfast. Ireland's largest arts festival attracts enormous crowds each year for its stellar program of drama, opera, music, and film (tel. 028/9066-7687; fax 028/9066-5577; www.belfastfestival.com). There's also a concurrent fringe festival in the Cathedral Quarter (tel. 028/9027-0466). October/November.

Dublin City Marathon. On the last Monday in October, more than 5,000 runners from both sides of the Atlantic and the Irish Sea participate in this popular run through the streets of the capital (tel. 01/626-3746; www.dublincitymarathon.ie). Late October.

December

Limerick Christmas Racing Festival. Limerick Racecourse, Greenpark, Limerick. Four days of holiday horse racing (tel. 061/229377; fax 061/227644; www.limerick-racecourse.com). Late December.

Woodford Mummers Feile. Woodford, County Galway. This festival offers traditional music, song, dance, and mime performed in period costume. A formal competition is held on the second day (tel. 0509/49248). Late December.

Leopardstown National Hunt Festival. Leopardstown Racecourse, Foxrock, Dublin 18. This festival offers 3 days of winter racing for thoroughbreds (tel. 01/289-2888; fax 01/289-2634; www.leopardstown.com). Late December.

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