Holidays and Festivals in Ireland
Ireland abounds in craic, that is, pure light-spirited fun in music and drink. With music venues around every corner and inviting pubs on each street, it is easy to recognize that locals know how to have a good time. In addition to the fond memories of lush green pastures, your other mental mementos will be those special times reveling in local festivities.
Ireland acknowledges several national and public holidays throughout the year. On these days, banks are closed, as are most businesses. Christmas and Easter are the biggest holidays. While the dates of the Easter holiday vary, Good Friday is observed by most businesses. Take note that many Europeans travel during the week before Easter, so book accommodations and certain restaurants well in advance.
For Christmas, closings from December 23 to after New Year's Day are common. Saint Patrick's Day is on March 17. Businesses shut down on Mondays if a holiday occurs on a weekend.
Bank holidays in Ireland are nationally observed days off work. Most tourist hot spots and weekend-only venues in the off-season are open with extended hours during these times. Bank holidays include the first Monday in May, June, August (last Monday in Northern Ireland during May and August), and the last Monday in October.
For the most up-to-date information regarding festivals and events throughout Ireland, check out the website Discover Ireland and in Northern Ireland, the website Discover Northern Ireland. For Dublin, visit Dublin Tourism. Your best resource will be regional tourist offices carrying publications with the latest information on concerts, theater, music, film, art exhibitions, and more.
In the winter months: Dublin hosts the Temple Bar TredFest in January. During the same month, the ever-popular Yeats Winter School takes place in Sligo Town. The Six Nations Rugby Tournament takes place in Dublin from February to April every other Saturday. Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated throughout the country in March, so come prepared for days of carnivals, sports, and parades.
Spring and Summer Festivals
The Pan Celtic Festival, generally held in Donegal in each April, includes dance, song, sports, and parades. Commencing in May, Temple Bar is the scene of free open-air performances in theater, music, dance, film, and art throughout the summer.
In June, Dublin also hosts the Bloomsday Festival (AKA James Joyce's Festival; see the James Joyce Center), honoring Leopold Bloom, the protagonist in Ulysses. In Kilkenny, the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival runs in the same month.
In August, the Kilkenny Arts Festival is an ever-popular gathering, while the acclaimed Puck Fair sees a goat crowned monarch for three days of exuberant festivities in Killorglin, County Kerry. In the same region, the Rose of Tralee International Festival is a week-long event bringing a pageant, street performances, horse races, and more to this central town.
The Galway International Oyster Festival is a world-renowned event with lots of activity in the latter part of September. The Dublin Theatre Festival in October is a two-week drama-lover's dream. Also in October, gourmets should head to the world-famous Kinsale International Gourmet Festival and County Cork, which plays host to the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival.