Monday 21 January 2019

Sick of the Leaving Cert already? Here's what you can look forward to when you finally break free of the books

Block rockin' beats: festival-goers enjoy the main stage at last year's Electric Picnic which will this year feature Lana Del Rey and The Chemical Brothers
Block rockin' beats: festival-goers enjoy the main stage at last year's Electric Picnic which will this year feature Lana Del Rey and The Chemical Brothers

Niamh McCollum

So the days are getting longer, the temperature is rising and it feels like it has been a record breaking amount of time since it rained in Ireland. But alas, none of you have been able to enjoy these seasonal changes because you’ve just embarked on that bleak rite of passage that every Irish adolescent must face: The Leaving Cert.

The exams are tedious, painful, and they seem hideously unfair. They are, however, only temporary, and come the 22nd June you will be rewarded for all your hard work with a summer of freedom.

That begs the question, what are you to do with all this spare time?

It may seem like an alien concept to many of you by this stage, but never fear because here at we’ve compiled a list of the most exciting (and sometimes free) events happening on the island this summer.

Music & Arts Festivals

1. Sea Sessions (June 22 -26)

Kick off your sweet summer of freedom by heading to this Surf Music Festival being held this year in Bundoran, Donegal.

With main headliners such as Dizzee Rascal, Walking on Cars and Rudimental set to rock the picturesque town, along with a range of surfing and skating events to enjoy, it's set to be the perfect way to let off some steam following the end of your exams.

2. Galway International Arts Festival (July 16 - 29)

With a host of comedy acts, plays, free visual art exhibitions and musical guests, such as Caribou and Kodaline, this festival has something to offer everyone. It would be well worth visiting Galway during this time to soak up the laid-back atmosphere of this truly charming west-coast city.

3. Castlepalooza/All Together Now (August 3-5)

Unfortunately both of these wonderful events occur at the same time, so you’ll have to choose just one.

If you like the idea of dancing to up-beat music whilst enjoying the backdrop of the medieval Charleville Castle, hidden away in Tullamore’s mesmerizing oak woods, then look no further than Castlepalooza. This summer it will host acts such as All Tvvins, (Chk Chk Chk) and Detroit Swindle.

Or, if you fancy going further afield to enjoy the folksy musical stylings of Fleet Foxes and the Villagers, then grab tickets and head to All Together Now, which is being held amid the beautiful rural landscape of Waterford.

Food & Drink

4. The Big Grill at Herbert Park (August 16 – 19)

Enjoy sitting in the sun (maybe/hopefully) and eating all day? Then head over to Ballsbridge to sample a variety of different cuisines offered up by vendors from all over Ireland and the UK.

This food festival will also host hot wing and chili eating contests throughout the weekend, which we can all agree are thoroughly entertaining to watch.

5. St George’s Twilight Market, Belfast (July 31 – August 1)

Why not grab your friends and take a road trip to Belfast to see St George’s Market, one of the city’s oldest attractions. Every weekend it hosts a large number of delicious food stalls - along with those dedicated to arts and crafts.

This summer it opens at night for these dates only, and the vibrant atmosphere, that the late night buzz of the market generates, is one that has had many people coming back for more.

Free Activities All Summer Long

These activities are here all year around, and they’re free!

6. Phoenix Park

Stuck for something to do on a nice day? Go and find a patch of grass in Phoenix Park to chill out on for the day. If you feel like exploring the vast perimeters of the park, you can rent a bike from its bike rental services, and make sure to keep an eye out for the parks resident deer! If you're lucky Micheal D might even invite you in for a cup of tea.

7. Hugh Lane Modern Art Gallery/IMMA

It is a harsh reality we all must face, there will probably (as always) be many a rainy day in Ireland this summer.  When faced with this challenge, why not keep yourself dry by soaking up some of the captivating modern art exhibitions that Dublin has to offer.  

The Hugh Lane Gallery, which is located beside Parnell Square, offers free admission all year around, though the more conscientious among you might consider dropping a fiver in the donations box. Whilst the IMMA, located on Military Road, is free to all except for its special exhibitions, which cost just 8 euro to view.

Well, now that you’ve read all about what Ireland has to offer for you this summer, it’s time to get back to the books. Best of luck, and enjoy that wonderful feeling of freedom that will very soon be thrust upon you.


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