15 things to do across Ireland this May Bank Holiday weekend
The May Bank Holiday weekend is the unofficial start of summer and if you've been wondering what to do across your three glorious days off wonder no more - we've trawled the listings and found 15 fun things to do from festivals to theme parks to walks and workshops.
Bray International Jazz Festival
Bray, Co Wicklow
Friday May 3 – Sunday 5
It’s the 20th anniversary of what has been described as "one of the very best small jazz festivals in Europe" and this year and the line-up boasts names including multi-Grammy Award winning jazz guitarist John Scofield as well as 14-times Grammy nominated American pianist Fred Hersche. German cellist Anja Lechner and French Jass pianist Francois Couturier also headline at the Mermaid Arts Centre.
There are discounts for multiple shows in one night, and your show ticket will give you 50% discount on the Late Lounge concerts at the Martello Hotel. As well as the core programme of Irish and international shows, there’s a new series, Bray Jazz ‘On the Road’ shows at locations across Wicklow.
Cool Planet Experience
Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.
Saturday May 4 to Monday May 6.
The Mini Greenhouse Family Workshop for kids aged 3-12 helps children learn about the carbon cycle via Eric Carle’s story The Tiny Seed. Using illustrations as inspiration they’ll design a mini greenhouse with seeds and water and nutrients to take home where they can watch their plant grow within a week.
€10 per child (adults free with complimentary tea and coffee) and it lasts 50 minutes with workshops at 11am and 1pm each day. Places must be booked in advance:
‘Great Lighthouses of Ireland’ Annual Shine A Light Festival
Hook Lighthouse, Co Wexford
Saturday May 4 – Monday 6
The oldest original working lighthouse in the world will host a series of events and demos over the weekend, kicking off with medieval games and combat school on the lawns and The Dunbrody Archers will be there on Sunday and Monday to help you test your skills.
The Irish Coast Guard will also be on hand all weekend to teach about safety at sea. There will also be pirate games with Pirate Pate and the Hook Pirates. On Sunday afternoon there will be a moment of reflection for all those lost at sea and on Monday at 3pm a Pipers Lament will be performed by a member of the New Ross Pipe Band.
Also on Sunday a Sunset Food and Tour Experience will kick off at 7.45pm with a tour of the lighthouse and a seafood and buffet with Mead and Prosecco in the lighthouse watchroom. This one is adult only and requires a ticket.
For more info on other events happening across the weekend, and tickets:
Friday May 3 – Sunday May 5
A great one for families, foodies, and watersport fans. The latter will enjoy Riverfest on the Shannon with kayaking, ziplining, water zorbing sessions and more.
There will also be aerial dance shows, a BBQ competition, the Riverfestival village in Arthur’s Quay Park and the Bon Secours Great Limerick Run, and Fashion Friday with Celia Holman Lee. Spectacular fireworks will light up the sky on Sunday May 5 at 10.15pm.
Kilkenny Roots Festival
Friday May 3 to Monday May 6.
In its 21st year, the Kilkenny Roots Festival has evolved to attract some of the biggest names in Americana/Roots and this year the line-up includes The Sadies, Jason Lytle, Erika Wennerstrom, I Draw Slow, Patty Griffin, Susto, The Accidentals, and more.
Taking place at more than 30 venues across the medieval city, with more than 40 Irish and international acts, and some shows free, it’s a no-brainer for top class entertainment over the weekend.
Festival of Fools
Friday May 3 to Monday May 6
The four day international street theatre festival is taking place in the centre of Belfast and features acts including Mr Dyvinetz, an extraordinary Cyr wheel artist, and Anita Bertolami’s Transiguro, which sees the artist use her own body as her main prop to create an array of characters.
Slieve Bloom Walking Festival
From Friday May 3
Celebrating 25 years, the festival is offering a variety of walks from woodland walks to riverside walks and hills. There are the usual hikes from Clonaslee and Kinnitty but also some new walks including family friendly walks with alpacas, a photo walk with award winning photographer Paul Moore, and a Geological Odyssey in the Silver River with John Feehan.
Local pubs will host entertainment and there’s a festival BBQ in Kinnitty on Sunday afternoon. Festival weekend walks €20, including annual membership, or €8 per walk.
Connemara Mussel Festival
Friday May 3 to Sunday May 5
It began as a celebration of the mussels of Killary Harbour 14 years ago but has evolved to become a much more wide-ranging celebration of local people and culture with food at the heart. Friday kicks off with a concert with local musicians, poets, dancer and actors culminating in a play, The Blow In, by local director Tristan Heanue.
On Saturday the kids can enjoy Agriaware Pet Farm and The ARC mobile classroom will be in situ across the weekend to raise awareness of aquaculture via screens, VR headsets and group activities. John O’Toole and Marguriette Heanue of Kylemore Abbey will host children’s cookery workshops and there are a host of other cookery demos, concerts, theatre, talks, walks and more for adults and children.
Drogheda Arts Festival
Ongoing until Monday May 6
The hugely successful all-encompassing arts festival returns with everything from architecture to music, poetry, spoken word, theatre, visual arts and family events. There’s a free family day in St Dominic’s Park with music and circus performers and the official commission recipient this year is The Belfast Ensemble who will present a reimagining of The Ten Plagues.
City of Derry Jazz Festival
Thursday May 2 to Monday May 6
More than 70,000 people are expected to descend on Derry for an 18th anniversary line-up including headliner Marc Almond and Kitty LaRoar, Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, Jumpin Up!, Jive Aces, and Kaz Hawkins.
Kilbrew, Ashbourne, Co Meath
Tayto Park offers a great family day out thanks to a theme park choc full of an array of rides and playgrounds to suit children of all ages. Bear in mind there are minimum and maximum height restrictions on some of the bigger rides and some attractions are seasonal.
There is also quite a large zoo with mammals ranging from tigers to monkeys and birds and a farmyard section. Booking online you can buy an entry only ticket for €15 or entry and unlimited attractions for €28.50.
Clonfert Pet Farm
Maynooth South, Clonfert, Co Kildare
As well as meeting the animals, children can avail of an indoor soft play area, two outdoor play areas and a bouncy castle as well as go karts, sand pit, mini golf and more. It’s especially good for toddlers and young children. It’s also great value for money - adults and children are €5 each on entry with under twos free.
Inisbofin Island Craft Expo 2019
Friday May 3 to Sunday May 5
Check out the talents of local craftspeople at craft stalls with an exhibition, talks, competitions and demonstrations across the weekend.
Inisbofin Corncrake Festival
It’s a new and unique festival revolving around the corncrake, which has been pushed out to remote areas due to farming practices such as early moving for silage. Inisbofin is home to 10 per cent of the corncrake population.
Bird watchers and nature enthusiasts will enjoy the early morning and afternoon walks to corncrake habitats with photographer and author Anthony McGeehan who will also be exhibiting some of his photos at the Dolphin Hotel over the weekend.
The festival will also feature a talk with conservationist Fergal O̒ Cuinneagáin who will speak about how he has created a corncrake habitiat on his land on the Mullet peninsula in Mayo and there will be after dinner talks and midnight walks to hear the crex crex call.
Wild West Country Fest
Friday May 3 to Sunday May 5
The small village of Kilconly on the Wild Atlantic Way, about 35km north of Galway and 7km from Tuam, will host three nights of country music at the Big Red Barn. Headliners include Mike Denver, Derek Ryan, Streetwise, Johnny Brady and Michael English.
Saturday, May 4
It’s the fifth year of this special day celebrating the culture, communities and spirit of Mayo and it takes place at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough.
Irish Rock'n'Roll Museum Experience
One for when the weather isn't playing bank holiday ball (or even if it is), the Irish Rock'n'Roll Museum currently features Beatles memorabilia donated by Ireland's biggest Beatles fan, Terri Colman Black. There is also memorabilia from U2, Thin LIzzy and more. You can avail of a guided tour and even start your own band and experience what it feels like to be a rock star. Here's a taster: