Kick start the summer season this May Bank Holiday weekend and discover a host of festivals and events taking place around Ireland.
With everything from choral n Cork, to BBQ’s in Limerick and drama in the Lakelands, the only dilemma will be deciding on what to do! Luckily www.discoverireland.ie is on hand to help you make up your mind and provide a list of must-see festivals. For now, here are some top picks to get your holiday plans underway…
Kick Start your Weekend with a Summer Serenade
Hit the right note this May Bank Holiday and soak up the atmosphere at one of the many music festivals taking place across the country. The Cork International Choral Festival will showcase world class gala concerts from Grammy-Award winning troupe The King’s Singers and the National Chamber Choir of Ireland from May 2nd-6th.
The festival brings together national adult, youth and school choirs as well as the world’s top amateur choirs who will all compete for the prestigious Fleischmann International Trophy. Other highlights include the Goethe-Institute Choir rendition of Mozart’s final and unfinished piece, “Requiem Mass in D minor,” and some mesmerising fringe concerts offered across the packed week-long programme.
Pack your camper van for Vantastival, a family friendly festival in Dundalk, Co. Louth from May 4th- 6th. The line-up includes Cathy Davey and Ham Sandwich, renowned Irish trad and folk acts Frankie Gavin and De Dannan and up to 70 music acts from across the country all live on three stages. There is a fantastic programme of children’s activities on offer, including arts and crafts classes, and a kids disco to keep everyone’s toes tapping. With free access to the festivals campervan park and tent site, coupled with free admission for children under fourteen, it’s a great value weekend away for the whole family.
Kitty, Daisy and Lewis
The Kilkenny Rhythm and Roots Festival promises a weekend of cracking Americana music with an exhilarating atmosphere and a line-up including Charlie Parr, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis and Loudest Whisper from May 4th-7th. Another highlight is the free pub music trail with over 80 gigs. While you’re in Kilkenny, be sure to take a stroll through the cities medevial streets and uncover your own treasure at one of the cities many arts and crafts stores.
Described as ‘the connoisseur’s jazz festival’, take a trip to Co. Wicklow and experience fresh contemporary jazz at the Bray Jazz Festival from May 4th-6th. The festival will play host to some of the world’s most renowned jazz talent including Grammy winner Susana Baca, celebrated Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen’s Trio and acclaimed New York clarinettist and composer Don Byron’s Gospel Quintet. Customise your experience with a range of matinées, early evening recitals and late- night gigs to be enjoyed in the picturesque scenic town.
Alternatively, sing the blues at the legendary Ballydehob Jazz Festival from May 4th- 7th. Wander through the street market and traders fair while enjoying jam sessions courtesy of Ireland’s King of Jazz, Paddy Cole. Other highlights will see musicians of all ages and levels battle for cash prizes at the busking competitions.
Culinary Escapades on a Weekend Away
For something a bit different, venture to Co. Roscommon for the Roscommon Lamb Festival from 2nd – 7th May. The festival is a celebration of family fun, great food and community spirit. This year boasts events like sheep farm walks to a Brazilian BBQ and a céilí mór. There’s also an attempt to beat the world sheep shearing record!The highlight of the festival will be the Global Kitchen when all nationalities living in Roscommon will come together to cook Roscommon lamb in the style of their own ethnic cuisine - a great opportunity to taste dishes from all over the world using the best of local produce.
Who will be this year's Little Bo Peep?
Fun is guaranteed to flow at Limerick’s Riverfest, from May 4th-7th. The city celebrates its riverside location with broad range of events, including the Great Limerick International BBQ. This every popular event sees professionals and amateurs show how to BBQ over hot coals with samples those in attendance. Other highlights include the ever popular international street market, as well as a free outdoor rock concert, huge fireworks display and the Great Limerick City Run.
On May 6th, a visit to the coastal town of Greystones, Co. Wicklow is a must-do for the annual Gourmet Greystones celebration. A feast of fine food and culinary delights will be on offer as the towns’ restaurants, cafes and gourmet food outlets come together to showcase the very best of local produce. Turning up the heat will be the Wicklow Masterchef Competition and “Wicklow on a Plate” which will feature with black pudding making and a cooking expo with Irish celebrity chef Catherine Fulvio also on the menu.
Craving Culture for the Long Weekend
Now in its 60th year the RTE All Ireland Drama Festival invites you to join them in their diamond jubilee celebrations from May 3rd – 12th in the Dean Crowne Theatre in Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Spectators can relax and enjoy a variety of nightly performances and a lively fringe programme packed with a host of free events, from art exhibitions to costume displays. A gala awards ceremony will toast the festival on May 11th, promising an evening of style and entertainment to mark the landmark anniversary.
Dingle, Co. Kerry springs to life with the Féile na Bealtaine Arts Festival from May 3rd- 7th, This year, the theme of Tom Crean’s Antarctic Voyages is celebrated through a range of music, performances and a spectacular street parade, as well as storytellers and a circus show to mark Lá na bPáistí. The festival aspires to build on the rich tradition of arts and cultures that exists throughout Dingle through lively and entertaining events.
Read between the lines at the Sligo Myths and Legends Summer School on May 5th and 6th and uncover the mysteries, rituals and history embedded in the Sligo landscape. Participate in guided tours of the picturesque Carrowmore, Knock na Rea, Lough Gill and the islands, while experiencing the theatrical stories of Bards, Druids and Poets.
Step to it this Bank Holiday
Soak up the summer sun, and trek your way through some of Ireland’s breathtaking trails with a walking festival this May Bank Holiday. The Slieve Bloom Walking Festival from May 4th-7th offers walkers of all levels the chance to experience easy strolls to challenging hikes through the woodlands of the beautiful Slieve Bloom Mountains, which straddle counties Laois and Offaly. Skilled guides will accompany walkers along the 12 different trails, unwinding afterwards with traditional Irish music at the Blisters Hoe Down at Kinnitty Castle. The Ballyhoura International Walking Festival, also from May 5th-7th, promises 30 guided walks on diverse Golden Vale terrains.
Sevens by the Sea
The Kinsale Sevens by the Sea kicks off from May 4th-6th, in Co. Cork. With 80 rugby teams from around the world scheduled to play over 150 matches across the Bank Holiday weekend, you can support your favourite team while sampling some of the finest food Ireland has to offer. Wind down from the games’ tensions with live music every night in the marquee on site and a farewell gig party on Sunday May 6th.
Visit www.discoverireland.ie/whatson to find more information on fantastic events, holiday ideas and fun for the entire family this May Bank Holiday.