Looking to entertain the family this summer? Here's a run down of the best festivals - for young and old - across the country over the coming months.

There is no doubt about it - Irish people know how to throw a party, and will put on a festival at the slightest excuse! No matter where you are in Ireland this summer you will come across a festival that will appeal to you and your family. There are festivals dedicated to walking, racing, music, hay making, families, foods – you name it it’s here.

Give a toss at The National Hay Making Festival, Trim, Co. Meath June 17th
This festival will bring the older members of the family on a nostalgic trip down memory lane honouring traditions from times past. But it will prove a huge hit with the younger ones too. A fun day is guaranteed with vintage tractors, horses mowing hay and a hay cocking machine in action. You can try your hand at set dancing, or play in the maize while the kids go to the pet’s corner. The highlights are the All-Ireland Scythe Cutting Competition and The World Sheaf Tossing Championship, where there will be an attempt to set a new world record which currently stands at a 62ft high throw.

Live your dream at the Cork Midsummer Festival, June 21st – July 1st
Every year this festival transforms Cork City with a summer solstice celebration of arts and culture. Expect extraordinary theatre and performance, music, street art, family fun and free events. This year’s festival kicks on Midsummer Night, (June 21st), with a major opening show at Cork Opera House. Don’t miss another highlight, Bonfire Night, on June 23rd. Check out the amazing family-friendly shows which will be staged over the ten days including the TPO Company’s presentation of Kindur, (Icelandic for sheep) in the Curtis Auditorium in the Cork School of Music from June 21st to 23 in which three adventurous woolly mammals brings the audience on a voyage through the extremes of the Atlantic and its seasons.

Ships Ahoy at the Volvo Ocean Race Festival 2012, Galway, June 30th-July 8th
More than 700,000 visitors are expected to descend on Galway for the biggest festival of the summer, the Grand Finale of the Volvo Ocean Race 2012. Families can gorge on a feast of marine and sport activities, theatre, culture and arts, dance, music and exhibitions. Maverick Sabre, one of Ireland’s hottest tickets, will headline the opening festival on the Main Stage on Saturday June 30th. The festival will extend into a Global Village across the harbour.

Cast off at The Ballina Salmon Festival, Co Mayo, July 8th-15h
This family-centred festival is one of the highlights of the summer months in the West bringing thousands of visitors to the 'Salmon Capital” of Ireland. Built on the banks of the famous river Moy, Ballina town comes alive with an action-packed programme which includes old favourites like 'The Lady of the Moy', Heritage Day, Mardi Rag and a spectacular fireworks display. There is, of course, lots of fishing and two thirds of the programme is dedicated solely to children. Highlights here are The Science Day and Teddy Bears Picnic.

Reach new heights at The Bray Summerfest, Co Wicklow, July 6th – August 6th.
Head to the seaside this summer and catch some of the month-long Bray Summerfest with great musicians, a Euroshow Funfair, the Bia Galore Food Festival, a kid’s corner and lots of theatre. But the real highlight will be the return of the Air Spectacular on Sunday July 22nd expected to attract 80,000 along the east coast. During a 140 minute spectacular aerial show you will be treated to close formation aerobatics, beach parachuting, search and rescue demonstrations at sea, pirouette spins, knife edge rolls and nose-down spiral descents. Be sure to keep your feet on the ground!

Juggle your way through The Street Performance World Championships, Dublin, and Cork
Ireland is the venue this year for the coveted “Street Performance World Championships” with the battle being played out for the title in Cork’s Fitzgerald Park on July 14th and 15th and Merrion Square in Dublin on July 19th and 20th. This unique event will see amazing performances from the worlds best contortionists, magicians, breakdancers, comedians and all-round jesters. The whole family will love this. Not to be missed.

Enjoy wild adventure at Killarney Summerfest, Co. Kerry, July 27th – August 5th
How about some outdoor action amongst the breath taking lakes, hills, valleys and mountains of Killarney? The Killarney Summerfest offers an abundance of adventure activities, as well as dozens of children's events in town with arts and creativity workshops and fun summer camps. In the evening the town centre will come to life as some of the world's leading street musicians, performers, puppeteers, comedians and magicians entertain all.


Meet Mary at The Mary From Dungloe Festival, Donegal, July 28th-August 6th
This is the 45th year of the Mary From Dungloe International Festival centered around a pageant to find out which “Mary” is best to act as an ambassador for the County. But there is lots more going on too with free family activities including a street parade with marching bands, cartoon characters, bouncy castles and live music. Catch the Siamsa School of Performing Arts and try some cooking demonstrations.

So be part of summer family festival fun. For more ideas and inspiration, visit www.discoverireland.ie

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