Search icon


29th May 2019

Your guide to the most incredible festivals around Ireland over the June bank holiday


Brought to you by Discover Ireland

How to spend the long weekend: that is the question.

One thing we know for sure is whether you’re into food, art or music, a festival makes your break.

It ensures oodles of fun and the chance to get exploring.

So, at the start of the summer festival season, there’s a huge variety of events that have us tempted. From hikes, to beach escapades, to food and literature — we think we’ve got a sweet roundup below to help you muster up a big plan.

First up is…

1. Tattersalls International Horse Trials & Country Fair

Tatts (as eager fans might say) is one of the greatest annual events for horsey folk.

Set in Ratoath, Co Meath (from May 29 to June 2) the festival features cross-country eventing and show-jumping, plus the marvellously elegant discipline of dressage.

The extensive selection of food and drinks traders make it a perfect experience to enjoy a delightful summer picnic too. Alternatively, get to the nearby Chocolate Boutique for a flavoursome Ariosa coffee pick-me-up or Maguire’s for a wholesome Irish lunch or dinner.

Tatts is very child-friendly too with a great Kids’ Zone sure to keep any little ones happy, should you be bringing them along.

Meath — the Royal County — is part of Ireland’s Ancient East and has a wealth of ancient sites that appeal to both young and old. Between Loughcrew Cairns, the Neolithic burial chambers, the gorgeous Boyne Valley and more — we promise you’ll be blown away by the 5,000 years of incredible history this beautiful landscape holds.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out the Trim Castle Hotel or The Station House Hotel (yes, you guessed it — it’s gorgeous because once upon a time, it was a railway station).

2. Listowel Writers’ Week

Culture vultures should head to Kerry for one of the greatest Irish book festivals — Listowel Writers’ Week. It takes place throughout the June bank holiday weekend (May 29 to June 2) in the lively town of Listowel, which was once home to legendary Irish playwright, John B Keane.

It’s something of a Mecca for bookworms due to the superb calibre of Irish and international writers — attracted by public interviews, workshops and readings events.

This year’s bumper programme includes the ever-popular Roddy Doyle and rising literary star Jan Carson.

There’s lots to do in the quirky Garden of Europe and the surrounding area. There’s the magnificent Listowel Castle for one and the entertaining guided tour takes just 40 minutes. Use your time along the Wild Atlantic Way to awaken the senses and take in all there is along the beautiful rugged coastline.

When you’re feeling peckish, head to the nearby Scribes café for yummy scones and vegan options or the family-run Horseshoe Bar and Restaurant for delicious Irish grub.

During your visit, try and stay at the Listowel Arms Hotel — its reputation for great food and close proximity to all the action greatly add to its allure.

3. Kilkenny Cats Laugh Festival

If comedy is your thing, this is about as good as it gets. The long-running festival boasts a line-up this year that’s bound to have you in stitches.

Some of the best comedians Ireland has ever produced — including Dylan Moran, Tommy Tiernan and Ed Byrne — will be packing them in.

The gigs take place throughout the magical and medieval Kilkenny city where you’ll be tempted to get right under the skin of this gloriously historic place.

Kilkenny Castle is one of the great attractions of Ireland’s Ancient East and its setting along the River Nore never fails to captivate. A visit to Kilkenny wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Smithwick’s Experience, beer lover or not.

You’ll get to mill the malt, stir the mash and smell the hops. Three-hundred years of history is combined with a fantastic distillery experience, and yes, you will love the story behind it all.

To find yourself right at the centre of all the fun, stay at Langton House — it’s family-owned and run, and boasts incredible food plus an award-winning bar.

4. Rory Gallagher International Festival

Music lovers will hardly need an introduction to Rory Gallagher, the great, late bluesman regarded as one of our finest ever guitarists. A festival in his honour is held every year at his hometown of Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, and this year the Rory Gallagher International Festival (May 30 to June 2) boasts quite the line-up, including Wishbone Ash. Expect free street concerts every day and loads of pub gigs too.

Donegal is a surfer’s dream — and it’s the ideal place for you to ride that first wave. There are loads of surf schools in and nearby Bundoran including the Fin McCool Surf School just up the coast.

Stay at the Dún na Sí guesthouses on the Bundoran Road. They’re cosy and modern, plus their location is ideal for making your way to attractions.

5. BikeFest

If you’re after land-borne thrills, BikeFest in Killarney could be one for you. It’s the country’s primary gathering for motorbike fans, plus, there are some wonderful guided tours of the Wild Atlantic Way — on two wheels of course. It’s all happening from May 31 to June 3, 2019.

Undoubtedly, being outdoors and active means you’ll want a nourishing meal at the Bike Village. There’s also the award-winning Danu at The Brehon (serving a fusion of Irish and International Cuisine) and The Backstage Bar and Restaurant (serving bar food throughout the day) to name just a few.

No visit to Killarney is complete without a stop at the Killarney House and Gardens. See the Torc Waterfall and hop on the boat tour around the lake — it’s beautiful. There’s the neighbouring Ross Castle that’s worth a visit too.

Get to the Blasket Islands on the edge of Dingle Peninsula for a glimpse of Ireland’s past plus the Blennerville Windmill on the edge of Tralee Bay.

It marks the main point where Kerry locals would have emigrated during the time of the Great Famine. The contrast between this and the area’s vast beauty is something everyone should experience.

For an authentic county Kerry experience, stay at the An Speice family-run B&B on Slea Head Drive, Dingle, with its sea and mountain views. You can easily walk to the village too. There’s also Moriarty’s Farmhouse — it’s very pretty and it’s sure to cater to all your needs, ensuring you’re kept comfortable during your stay.

So, what better way to kick off the summer and truly escape this bank holiday weekend?

That’s it, we’re off!

Brought to you by Discover Ireland

A festival makes your break, so click on the image below to discover even more things to do that’ll make your break in Ireland something really special. Go to our festival hub here on Her to see more of what’s happening too!