Cashing in on fun in the sun as thousands hit by festival fever
MILLIONS of euro are expected to be generated this bank holiday weekend as festival fever sweeps the nation.
Failte Ireland says the busiest weekend of the year is upon us, with Ireland's summer festival programme set to begin in style.
"There is so much going on this weekend, with something to suit everyone," said Alex Connolly of Failte Ireland.
Around 25,000 people are expected to descend on Kilkenny, with the Marble County holding two of the summer's biggest festivals.
The internationally re-nowned Smithwick's Kilkenny Cat Laughs Comedy Festival returns to the city, with 85 performances over three days, including appearances from Hector O hEochagain and Ardal O'Hanlon.
Also, the first All Ireland and International Sheep Shearing Festival to be held in Kilkenny begins today, with sheep shearers from all over Ireland as well as Britain, Europe, the USA and Australia flocking to the agricultural festival.
The jam-packed weekend is expected to generate €8m for the local economy.
In Dublin, the Phoenix Park's annual Bloom festival will continue into the weekend, with visitors told to expect spectacular show-gardens, delicious food, floral displays and cookery workshops.
Beachgoers in Cork are warned to keep an eye out for Vikings today, as the Inter-national Maritime Festival sees a fleet of historical boats sail from Crosshaven to the city's quays. The festival also features a boat-building competition and kayak tours of Cork's harbour.
Ballyshannon in Co Donegal is welcoming more than 10,000 music enthusiasts for the Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival, with musicians coming from all over the world to pay homage to the town's most famous son.
In Kerry, Listowel Writers' Week reaches its peak over the weekend, with everything from book readings to writing workshops. The festival, in its 40th year, also celebrates the work of Listowel natives John B Keane and Bryan MacMahon.