Your essential guide to the festival highlights of 2018
Counties across the country are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the very best of Irish culture, writes Andrea Smith
If there is one thing we do well in Ireland, it's throwing a good festival. Whether your interests range from jazz to floristry or opera to matchmaking, you are guaranteed to find a fab multi-day event dedicated to the subject somewhere around the country this year.
This year, 2018, is destined to be a particularly good year for Irish festivals, thanks in part to the introduction of the national Creative Ireland programme. This programme, implemented at county level, has provided financial support in the arts and culture arenas, which has enabled many festivals to become bigger, brighter and more attractive to overseas visitors.
Here is our round-up of some of the highlights to look forward to on the 2018 Irish festival scene.
TradFest Temple Bar 2018
TradFest is Ireland's largest annual festival of traditional, folk and world music, and it takes place in some of Dublin's most historic venues. With the most extensive line-up of national and international performers yet, TradFest 2018 will see the majority of headline concerts dominated by female performers, including Judy Collins, Aoife Scott and Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh. Children are catered for too as a series of family concerts will take place across Saturday and Sunday of the festival.
TradFest begins this Wednesday and runs to next Sunday. www.tradfest.ie
Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018
Film buffs will adore Ireland's biggest celebration of Irish and international feature film, which showcases the very best films from countries worldwide, as well as movie events, industry masterclasses, public discussions, exhibitions and more.
ADIFF runs from February 21 to March 4. www.diff.ie
Kilkenny Animated 2018
This brand new festival of visual storytelling will include exhibitions of cartoonists and illustrators, stand-up comedy shows with animation, screenings of animated shorts and features, projections on buildings, dance shows that incorporate live animation, workshops for kids and graffiti installations.
Kilkenny Animated runs from February 23 to 25. www.kilkennyanimated.com
BD Festival 2018
BD Festival is taking place on Good Friday in the beautiful surrounds of Glendalough House, Annamoe, Co Wicklow. It brings together music, art, community and food, and on a day when pubs are closed, you can even BYOB.
BD Festival takes place on Friday March 30. www.bdfestival.ie
St Patrick's Festival 2018
'Home' is the theme for the 2018 edition of the world-famous festival that includes the magical St Patrick's Day parade. It's the inspiration for the artistic programme, which includes a unique film commission project, street theatre, talks, walks, spoken word, literature, music, Irish language, visual art and more.
St. Patrick's Festival takes place from March 15 to 19. www.stpatricksfestival.ie
It Takes a Village 2018
If you've ever fancied being at a festival in a secluded setting on the edge of the Atlantic, It Takes A Village takes place in Trabolgan, East Cork. With self-catering accommodation and campervan sites, the village will feature three main venues, as well as pop-up stages all over the 120-acre site. Enjoy all the leisure activities at Trabolgan, as well as music acts, talks and history walks around the area.
It Takes a Village takes place from April 13 to 15. www.ittakesavillage.fm
Your Minecraft-mad kids will love this festival centred on the popular game at the RDS, meeting famous YouTubers, taking part in Q&A sessions and participating in challenges.
MineVention takes place from April 14 to 15. www.minevention.co.uk
International Literature Festival Dublin 2018
This popular nine-day literary event gathers the finest writers in the world to present readings, discussions, debates, workshops, performance and screenings.
ILF Dublin takes place from May 19 to 27. www.ilfdublin.com
Electronic fans will love this festival taking place in the beautiful gardens of Belvedere House, Westmeath. Expect three days filled with sound from Fatboy Slim and others, visuals, performances, eco-friendly camping facilities, a cool healing area, workshops and tasty food stalls.
Life 18 takes place from May 25-27. www.life-festival.com
Bloom in the Park
The green-fingered among us will be heading to Bloom in the Phoenix Park over the June Bank Holiday weekend. There will be a whole host of exhibits to admire, including show gardens, sculptures and botanical and craft displays, as well as great music and food.
Bloom takes place from May 31 to June 4. www.bloominthepark.com
Cowboys and Heroes 2018
Put on your boots and head straight to Leitrim for this country music and Americana festival, complete with top music acts like Mike Denver, Lisa McHugh and Derek Ryan, line dancing, jiving and a food village and more.
Cowboys and Heroes takes place from June 1 to 4. www.cowboysandheroes.ie
Dublin Yoga and Vegan Festival
Dublin's first-ever yoga and vegan festival takes place on the beautiful campus of Trinity College. You can expect to find a variety of yoga classes, talks, special classes for children, and stalls selling vegan food.
Dublin Yoga and Vegan Festival takes place on June 10. www.yogific.org
Galway International Arts
Long recognised as one of the jewels in the crown of Irish festivals, GIAF covers a range of art forms. It also develops and produces new work, such as Grief is The Thing with Feathers starring Cillian Murphy, and presents a major discussion platform, First Thought Talks.
Galway International Arts Festival 2018 takes place from July 16 to 29. www.giaf.ie
Earagail Arts Festival 2018
Earagail Arts Festival is a bilingual Irish and English arts festival, which takes place annually in Donegal. Go north and get ready for 19 days of music, theatre, visual arts, film, literature, circus and carnival.
Earagail Arts Festival takes place from July 11 to 29. www.eaf.ie
West Cork Literary Festival
This week-long celebration of writing and reading has an extensive programme of readings, talks and week-long workshops. It brings writers from around the world to beautiful Bantry Bay.
West Cork Literary Festival 2018 takes place from July 13 to 20.
Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann
This year's Fleadh Cheoil will take place in Drogheda. It's the world's largest annual celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance, featuring workshops for young musicians, competitions, concerts, singing and ceilis.
Fleadh Cheoil 2018 takes place from August 12 to 19. www.fleadhcheoil.ie
Another Love Story
A boutique festival weekender of music, art and fun, Another Love Story takes place in the glorious surrounds of Killyon Manor in Co Meath.
Another Love Story takes place from August 17 to 19. www.anotherlovestory.ie
Dublin Horse Show
If you're a fan of horses, trot along to the RDS where the ever-popular equestrian festival also encompasses craft, fashion, music and food.
Dublin Horse Show 2018 takes place from August 8 to 12.
Dublin Fringe Festival
You'll never get bored at this festival, which is home to bold ideas, brave performing arts and adventurous audiences. It takes place in more than 23 locations across Dublin city.
Dublin Fringe Festival runs from September 8 to 23. www.fringefest.com
Culture Night 2018
Enjoy a late night of free cultural events in towns and cities across the country. For one night only, arts and cultural organisations will open their doors with hundreds of free events, tours, talks and performances.
Culture Night takes place on September 21. www.culturenight.ie
National Ploughing Championships
The ever-popular festival of farming, food and culture comes again to Screggan, Tullamore, Co Offaly, bringing sheepdog trials, food fairs, craft villages, competitions and exhibitions.
National Ploughing Championships 2018 takes place from September 18 to 20. www.npa.ie
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival
If you're looking for love or even just for a great weekend away, head to Co Clare. The infamous matchmaking festival hosts six weekends of fun, party, music and romance.
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival 2018 takes place from August 31 to September 30. www.matchmakerireland.com
Wexford Festival Opera 2018
The 67th Wexford Festival Opera will once again hit the high notes with a scintillating programme of operas, concerts, lunchtime recitals, lectures and talks.
Wexford Festival Opera 2018 takes place from October 19 to November 4. www.wexfordopera.com
Guinness Cork Jazz Festival
Europe's biggest annual jazz party swings into Cork as the jazz festival celebrates its 41st edition. More than 1,000 musicians will take part in hundreds of music sessions citywide, drawing people from all over the world.
The 2018 Guinness Cork Jazz Festival will take place from October 26 to 29. www.guinnessjazzfestival.com
Prepare to be uplifted by this programme of folk, roots and indie gigs. This Sligo festival highlights the county's vibrant contemporary music scene and rich musical heritage as well as presenting international stars.
Sligo Live will take place from October 24 to 29. www.sligolive.ie
As the nights draw in, a trip to Dingle will brighten your horizons as the leading live music series begins filming. It focuses mainly on alternative music from Irish and international artists.
Other Voices takes place from November 30 to December 2. www.othervoices.ie
New Year Festival Dublin 2018
Gather together in the heart of Dublin with family and friends as the city lights up with excitement for the New Year's Festival and enjoy the headline acts at the Countdown Concert.
Sunday Indo Living