IT'S finally summer and the country comes alive this bank holiday weekend with arts festivals, food fairs, rallies, runs and over 130 Gatherings.
Limerick is bracing itself for an influx of up to 40,000 visitors for the country's biggest festival. The four-day Riverfest kicked off yesterday with fashion shows and a soapbox derby in the city centre.
Today, the country's largest ever barbecue takes place on Denmark Street with chefs slaving away over the charcoal from 11am.
More than 10,000 people are expected to participate in either the six-mile, half marathon, full marathon or relay marathon races as part of the Great Limerick Run.
In Wicklow, the Bray Jazz festival marks 14 years with an eclectic mix of international and Irish artists. New York-based Brazilian pianist and singer Eliane Elias is the star attraction, playing Mermaid Arts Centre tomorrow at 8.30pm.
In Killarney, up to 30,000 are expected at the Rally of the Lakes.
Feile na Bealtaine in Dingle offers art exhibitions, theatre, poetry, political symposiums, children's events, cycles and a colourful parade.
'Fr Ted' fans from all over the planet will converge in Co Clare, one of 131 events taking place as part of The Gathering.
Others include Latvian Culture Day in Dublin's Temple Bar, the Drogheda Fringe and Maritime Tall Ships Festival, and a salute to women in veterinary medicine in Athleague, Co Roscommon.
Facial hair will be the order of the day in Corofin, Co Clare, for Ireland's 'best beard competition', as part of the Festival of Finn.
The inaugural Ballymaloe Lit Fest opened in Shanagarry in east Cork with some of the world's top chefs and food critics attending.
The Cork International Choral Festival, in which 5,000 people are taking part, runs till tomorrow; and in Kinsale, the 25th Heineken 7s rugby tournament is on with players from all over the world.
President Michael D Higgins will today launch Books That Launched a Revolution festival at Cork City Library before heading to Clonakilty tomorrow to mark the 400th anniversary of the town receiving its royal charter.
On Monday, Cobh will mark the 98th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania off the Old Head of Kinsale during World War I.
Runners from across the country will descend on Letterkenny in Donegal for the traditional North West 10km tomorrow.
And one event in the north of the county combines the great outdoors with culture and language. The Heritage Walking Weekend in Falcarragh includes 20km hikes to a 13th-Century graveyard.
There's a full national hunt racecard at the Sligo Racecourse, where a new multi-million-euro pavilion will be opened for the first time tomorrow.
On Monday, the Cos Cos Sean Nos Festival starts a week of activities dedicated to traditional dance in Sligo and the northwest.
Other events include the Joe Hearney Commemorative Festival in Carna, Co Galway; the Smithwick's Kilkenny Roots Festival; and the Big House festival in Celbridge, a celebration of traditional culture.