Tuesday 20 February 2018

Holidays at home: August bank holiday festival guide

Current Mary from Dungloe , Kate Ferguson
Current Mary from Dungloe , Kate Ferguson

Planning a getaway for the August Bank Holiday? Counting down the days to the next long weekend? The good news is you don’t have to jump on an airplane or fight your way through the crowds at baggage collection to enjoy this three-day break.

The August bank holiday weekend plays host to many of the country’s premier summer festivals which celebrate everything from steam engines to traditional music to pedigree dogs. Here’s our guide to the top ten August bank holiday festivals which take place right across the country-

1. Kingscourt Festival, Cavan First organised by the Kingscourt Chamber of Commerce in 2008, this family festival has something for everyone. This year’s programme includes events such as a wellie tossing contest, a soap box race, live music and a tug of war. This year’s festival is looking to break a Guinness World record for the longest line of dancing drag queens. The previous record was set by a group of 59 in England and organizers this year will be looking to better that and are also running a beauty contest to select the best drag queen of Kingscourt. There is a battle of the bands contest which takes place as part of the festival and audiences will get the chance to vote on acts. The winning act will support The Flaws at a gig on Monday 2nd. For more information, visit kingscourtfestival.ie

2. Castlepalooza music festival, Tullamore

The Castlepalooza music and arts festival begin on July 31st at Charleville Castle in Tullamore. This year’s line up includes Norman Jay, Mercury Rev, Robotnik, Alessi’s Ark, DJ Scope, First Aid Kit and many other local and international musical acts. A day spa will operate from the castle during the two-day festival. Castle Shorties, a short film presentation, will also be on this year for works that run for less than 12 minutes. Re-dress, an ethical fashion group, will be holding events in the castle’s ballroom over the weekend and artists will be showcasing their work at the ‘For the love of’ exhibition. For tickets and information about on site camping, visit castlepalooza.com.

3. Mary from Dungloe International Festival

This Donegal town has been celebrating the ballad that gives the festival its name since 1967. Each year it crowns its very own Mary, that is a pretty young lass who best represents the beauty and the qualities of the woman in the original song. The festival’s programme includes a wide variety of events from a triathlon to a bonny baby contest to BBQs, live music, a display of vintage cars and a soap box derby down the main street. Musical events and performances are central to this festival and this year’s gigs cross a number of different musical genres including jazz, rock, country and of course traditional Irish music. For more information visit maryfromdungloe.com. 4. O'Carolan Harp and International Traditional Music Festival, Keadue

Roscommon’s annual celebration of traditional music includes public performances, workshops for budding musicians and a formal competition for harp enthusiasts. There is a €2,500 prize fund, with a €600 first prize for the senior harp competition winner. A summer school of tutorials, workshops and lectures takes place in the week before the festival for students of a range of trad music instruments including the harp, flute, tin whistle, fiddle, concertina and the bodhrán. In addition to the focus on developing young talent, the festival has also played host to a variety of trad artists and this year Liam Purcell and friends, Frankie Gavin and De Danann will be playing in Keadue. For more information on the summer school, the festival’s music competitions, and the run down of events taking place over the bank holiday weekend, please visit the website at ocarolanharpfestival.ie.

5. The Spraoi Festival, Waterford

The country’s biggest street festival takes place each year over the bank holiday weekend in various locations in the centre of Waterford city. This year’s festival kicks off at 3pm on Friday July 30th with 8 new Irish theatre works and live music performances taking place on stages across the city. This year’s festivities will include numerous music, dance, circus acrobatics, theatre and comedy gigs. There are quite a few events for children, the most famous of which is the Spraoi Drums which gives 20 youngsters percussion training in the lead up to shows at the festival. There will be some 200 free music gigs in this year’s programme. A full list of events, shows and happenings will be posted on the event’s website at www.spraoi.com in early July.

6. Rathangan Lughnasa Festival

Lughnasa traditionally signifies the start of the harvest and there are a range of festivities which take place around the country to mark the occasion. The Rathangan Lughnasa Festival is a music and arts festival which takes place in Kildare and has in the past played host to artists such as The Blizzards, Mundy, Luka Bloom, Damien Dempsey, and The Waterboys. Street performers, BBQs, face painting, a fancy dress disco for kids, busking for children and adults and a photography exhibition are just some of the activities planned for this year’s festival.

7. All Ireland Open Dog Show, Galway

Open to all canine enthusiasts, the fourth annual All Ireland Dog Show will take place at Farrell’s Field in Roundstone, Galway on Monday 2nd August. There are 20 separate classes which pooches can compete in, plus the best in show contest which is run as the festival’s finale. The categories include both pure and mixed breeds along with the fun classes such as toy dogs and puppies. Last year’s Supreme Champion was a handsome boxer named Ruby owned by Patricia Coniry. For more information and to download an entry form, visit the event’s website at roundstoneevents.com.

8. Graignamanagh/Tinnahinch Regatta & Rowing Festival, Kilkenny

Said to be the country’s oldest regatta, the Graignamanagh/Tinnahinch Regatta & Rowing Festival is a two-day celebration of river racing. There are over 20 different events which take place in and around the River Barrow including rowing, diving, swimming, canoeing and racing. There are also activities for children and live music in local pubs. For more information, call 059 9724442.

9. Cork X Southwest Festival, Skibereen

The fourth installment of this one-day music festival will take place on 31st July in tents at the showgrounds in Skibereen. The line up this year includes Martha Wainwright, the Hot House Flowers, Luka Bloom, the Ceili All Stars and Bonnie Prince Billy. Each year the festival also organizes various artistic events covering comedy and drama along with fine food stalls featuring local produce. Tickets are €55 and revelers can camp on site for €10. For more information, visit www.corkxsw.com.

10. Stradbally National Steam Rally

The 46th Stradbally National Steam Rally will take place on Sunday 1st and Monday 2nd August on the grounds of the Cosby estate and attracts rail enthusiasts from around the country. The two-day festival showcases steam engines, vintage cars, tractors and oil engines in a range of exhibitions and events including the running of steam trains on the Narrow Gauge heritage railway. Around 30 steam engines will participate in live demonstrations. Previous steam rally events have included rides on a diesel engine around local woodlands, displays of Model T Fords, the prestigious slow race and dog demonstrations. Food, jewellery and vintage fashion also feature in the festival stalls which run over the two days. For more information visit irishsteam.ie

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