Summer's For the Arts

Image Credit: Ashen via Pexels

Ellie Hanan Moran talks us through the various Arts festivals and events coming up over the summer in Ireland.

This summer, Ireland is jam-packed with arts festivals. If you have never been to an Irish arts festival, now is the time to cross that off the bucket list. Consider this your guide to Ireland's Best Summer Festivals of 2023.

Let's start with the multi-disciplinary arts festivals. In other words, art festivals that cover a wide range of arts on display. This typically includes music, theatre, visual arts, circus, dance, and comedy, but also often parades, street art and literature. Kicking it off, we've got Carlow Arts Festival (7th-11th June), unique for its Carnival of Collective Joy on the 10th of June. Next, running annually since 1988 is Donegal’s Earagail Arts Festival (8th-23rd July). This festival is run through both Irish and English language. Galway International Arts Festival (17th-30th July) is one of the biggest Irish multi-disciplinary arts festivals and produces new work every year that tours nationally and internationally. They also feature a major discussion platform called First Thought Talks. Also part of this festival is the Galway Film Fleadh (11th-16th July). The Spraoi International Arts festival (4th-6th August) in Waterford is particularly special in that it hosts free street events, such as street theatre, music and contemporary circus. Finally, Birr Vintage Week and Arts Festival (4th-12th August) in Offaly celebrates vintage, equestrian and community displays in a parade, as well as artisan and craft markets, a Fly-In and display from Ormand Flying Club, busking competitions, free children’s events and an antiques and fine art fair. It also boasts live music, literary events, nightly pub entertainment and a fireworks display. Truly a very unique and eclectic mix of events.

Now, for the festivals that dabble in specific arts. First of these is the Galway Theatre Festival (28th April - 6th May). If you miss this, you may have to wait until September for your next chance to attend a theatre festival in Ireland, when Dublin Fringe Festival rolls around.

Next up is Dublin Dance Festival (16th-28th May), showcasing Irish and international dance performances of all kinds.

For literature-specific festivals, check out the International Literature Festival Dublin (19th-28th May). This includes readings, conversations, debates, screenings, guided walks, events, podcasts and broadcasts. Following soon after, Kerry hosts Listowel Writers' Week, Ireland's oldest Literary and Arts festival (31st May to 4th June).

If you are interested in classical music, Ireland has a number of chamber music festivals throughout the summer in Wicklow, Dublin, West Cork and finally on Valentia island, Kerry. For trad music, check out Belfast TradFest (23rd-29th July), and Masters of Tradition in West Cork (23rd-27th August).

If you love a contemporary music concert kind of festival, but Electric Picnic tickets just weren’t in the cards for you this year, there are still plenty of options for you. First up is Forbidden Fruit (3rd-4th June). This is Dublin’s longest-running city-centre festival. Soon after is the Body & Soul festival (16th-18th June) in Westmeath. Focusing on inclusivity and diversity, this festival’s lineup for 2023 includes artists such as Denise Chaila, Kneecap, Fever Ray and Alison Goldfrapp. The same weekend, Beyond the Pale (16th-18th June) takes place in Glendalough, Wicklow. Celebrating music, arts and food, this year’s lineup features Grace Jones, Hot Chip, Thundercat, Pillow Queens, Tolü Makay and Bricknasty, among others. Next up is Longitude in Marlay Park, Dublin (1st-2nd July). More popular with younger crowds than other festivals, this year’s lineup includes Calvin Harris, Travis Scott, MK, Anne Marie, Joey Bada$$, Raye and Ice Spice. In August, we kick off with Indiependence Music and Arts Festival (4th-6th) in Cork, which is mainly music focused but also features comedy, spoken word, a small cinema and some other attractions. Among this year’s lineup are The Coronas, Anne Marie and Two Door Cinema Club. The same weekend, Curraghmore House in Waterford hosts All Together Now, a family-friendly music festival in its 4th year of existence. It has 18 stages where alongside music it showcases spoken word, comedy, theatre, debate, art (keep an eye out for the beautiful sculptures amongst the trees), workshops, wellness, food and cocktails. This year’s announced artists so far include Iggy Pop, Villagers, Jessie Ware and Sugababes.

Finally, if you want an event like no other in Ireland, drive up to Donegal for the Sea Session Bundoran festival (16th-18th June).This is a surf music festival that also hosts events to do with beach sports, skating, BMX and yoga. This year’s lineup features artists such as The Coronas, Kasabian, Inhaler, Groove Armada and KhakiKid (whose interview with OTwo you can check out online now).

This is only just a few of the many Irish festivals happening over the summer. I dare you to go to as many as you can.