40 Great Festivals & Events to Check Out in 2016

By Jayne Leonard
04 Jan 2016

40 Great Festivals & Events to check out in 2016

From Opera and Food Fests to Horse Racing and Bog Snorkelling


In this post we feature some of the very best festivals and events you can enjoy in Ireland during 2016.  Not all of them have confirmed their dates and details yet, but as soon as they do we will add them to our post.  And, if anything new emerges, we will feature them here.  We have also provided links to each event websites, so that you can check their details.

Don’t forget too that if you are visiting any Top Visitor attractions in the vicinity of an event, you can usually buy your tickets here on TopAttractionsIreland.com. We are the home of great value Top Attraction Tickets.



Saint Patrick's Festival Dublin

Saint Patrick's Festival

Where? Dublin City.

When in 2016? 17 - 20 March

An exciting festival celebrating Ireland’s national holiday with the very best of Irish and international talent. Events include a street theatre, exhibitions, music, dance, literature, comedy and the highlight of the weekend - the St. Patrick's Festival Parade.

Website: www.stpatricksfestival.ie


Galway International Arts Festival

Where? Galway City.

When in 2016? 11 - 24 July

One of Europe's premier cultural events and a vital showcase for Irish arts and international arts. See hundreds of writers, artists, performers and musicians create theatre, spectacle, street art, music, comedy, literature and music in a stunning fortnight of cultural activity and celebration.
Website: www.giaf.ie


Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival

Where? Dublin City.

When in 2016? 10 - 25 September

Ireland's leading multidisciplinary arts festival transforms the city of Dublin with the new and next in performance, theatre, music, art, comedy, dance, gaming and circus from Irish and international artists

Website: www.fringefest.com


Dublin Theatre Festival

Where? Dublin City.

When in 2016? 29 September - 16 October

Europe's longest-established specialist theatre festival bringing world-class theatre to Dublin city. The festival incorporates theatre, music, dance and family events as well as talks, public discussions, works-in-progress showcases and artist-development programmes.

Website: www.dublintheatrefestival.com


Guinness Cork Jazz Festival

Where? Cork City.

When in 2016? 28 - 31 October

This internationally renowned festival features over 1,000 musicians in 400 sessions at 70 venues with a broad range of jazz music styles, and performances by some of the most famous names in jazz. Other events include a Jazz Parade, street bands, workshops and masterclasses.

Website: www.guinnessjazzfestival.com


The 65th Wexford Festival Opera

Where? Wexford Town.Wexford Festival Opera

When in 2016? 26 October - 6 November 

The 65th year of this internationally recognised opera festival promises visitors 12 days of grand opera productions, short-works operas, lunchtime recitals, concerts, film and more.

Website: www.wexfordopera.com





Taste of Dublin

Where? Iveagh Gardens, Dublin 2.

When in 2016?  16 - 19 June   

This celebration of food and drink, set in Iveagh Gardens, sees some of Ireland’s most prestigious restaurants and celebrated chefs serve sample-sized signature dishes to over 25,000 foodies. With over 100 foodie exhibitors, this is foodie heaven!

Website: www.tasteofdublin.ie


Westport Food Festival

Where? Westport, Co. Mayo.

When in 2016? 24 - 26 June   

A celebration of all things culinary from Westport and its surrounds with markets, foraging, mystery dining, food fest forum and more. This three day festival is a must for all foodies!

Website: www.westportfoodfestival.ie


Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival

Where? Galway City.

Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival

When in 2016?  September (dates tbc)

A great festival in a special city. It is Ireland's oldest food festival and the world's longest running oyster festival. Enjoy over 30 bands, a Galas Masquerade Mardi Gras through the streets, food banquets and fringe events in in circa 20 city venues. It also includes the World Oyster Opening Championships.

Website: www.galwayoysterfestival.com


Dingle Food Festival

Where? Dingle, Co. Kerry.

When in 2016?  30 September - 2 October 

2016 will be the 10th year of this popular food festival held in one of Ireland’s Foodie Towns. Showcasing the best of local produce, events include a taste trail to over 80 foodie venues, markets, cookery demos with top chefs, workshops, wine tastings, live music and much more.

Website: www.dinglefood.com


Kinsale Gourmet Festival

Where? Kinsale, Co. Cork.

When in 2016?  7 - 9 October  

A celebration of all the culinary delights that the harbour town of Kinsale has to offer. Take part in the infamous 'Mad Hatters' party; and enjoy the renowned Fruits de Mer Luncheon with local shellfish on the menu. Other events include a chowder cook-off; and a five-course dinner.

Website: www.kinsalerestaurants.com





Sea Sessions Surf & Music Festival

Where? Bundoran, Co. Donegal.

When in 2016?  24 - 26 June   Sea Sessions Surf & Music Festival

Ireland's only surf and music festival, held on the beach in the capital of Irish surfing - Bundoran! Join 5,000 other festival-goers for an international line-up of top music acts. This award-winning festival also hosts Ireland’s highest profile surf event with a large cash prize, attracting surfers from across the globe.

Website: www.seasessions.com



Where? Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

When in 2016?  End of July/early August (dates tbc)

A boutique music and arts festival held in the picturesque grounds of the 17th century Charleville Castle. Enjoy an eclectic mix of music including some big-name headliners, as well as workshops in yoga, hula hooping, puppet making & more. Festival goers also enjoy daily access to the castle where there are art and film exhibitions; workshops; and even a Day Spa!

Website: www.castlepalooza.com


Electric Picnic

Where? Stradbally Hall, Co. Laois.  

When in 2016?  2 - 4 September

A three day camping, music & arts festival offering Electric Picnickers a smorgasbord of eclectic music, alternative stages and sideshows, comedy, art, cinema, spoken word, a large holistic area with alternative therapies, plus a healthy organic food. Not to be missed! Nominated for ‘Best Major Festival’ in the 2014 European Festival Awards.

Website: www.electricpicnic.ie




Runamuck Challenge

Where? North Kildare.

When in 2016?  5 March; and 24 September (tbc)  

A cross country event over a wet and mucky course with man-made and natural obstacles including bale jumps, net scrambles, super slides, Tarzan swings, bridges, tyres, tunnels and much more. This fun, off-road challenge event is suitable for ages 15+ and is designed to test your mental and physical strength!

Website: www.runamuckchallenge.com


Hell & Back 

Where? Killruddery Estate, Bray, Co. Wicklow.

When in 2016? Trojan - 31 January, Apollo - 25 - 26 June.

Trojan is a 10km course along man-made trail runs and mountain paths while Apollo is a gruelling off-road 7km or 12km route. In both events, you will have to make your way over, under, around and through the infamous HELL & BACK obstacles.

Website: www.hellandback.ie


Gaelforce North & Gaelforce WEST 

Where? North - Glenveagh to Bunbeg, Co. Donegal; West - Connemara to Westport, Co. Mayo.

When in 2016? North - 25 June; West - 20 August 

Gaelforce North

Gaelforce North is an adventure race through Donegal with two distances - a 45k sprint and the 64km full course, which both involve cycling, running/hill running and kayaking. Gaelforce West is the original and ultimate Irish adventure race - a 67km course involving trail/mountain running or walking; cycling and kayaking through Connemara, Killary Fjord and Croagh Patrick.

Website: www.gaelforceevents.com


Irish Bog Snorkelling Championships

Where? Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan.

When in 2016? Mid-September (date tbc)

Participants must swim a 120m strip of bog using snorkel and flipper power only in the fastest time possible in order to be crowned the National Bog Snorkelling Champion! While waiting to compete, participants can relax in the bog Jacuzzi or try out the 40ft mud slide! There is also a Junior race which is 60m and weekend camping is available.

Website: www.irishbogsnorkelling.com


Turf Warrior

Where? Leenane, Connemara, Co. Galway.

When in 2016? 5 November   

An obstacle course challenge that is packed full of adventure, mud, climbing, swinging, leaps into the Atlantic and other mayhem and madness! This 10km challenge will test your mental and physical endurance. Participants can also enjoy free entry to the themed party afterwards to swap stories with other warriors!

Website: www.turfwarriorchallenge.com




Fairyhouse Easter Festival & the Irish Grand National

Where? Fairyhouse Racecourse, Ratoath, Co. Meath.

When in 2016?  27 - 29 March  

A weekend of top class racing, music and family fun featuring the best horses, jockeys and trainers in the industry. Easter Monday sees the Irish Grand National, one of the most iconic events in the Irish Calendar and the Most Stylish Lady Competition. Besides racing, festival goers can enjoy children’s entertainment, music and more.

Website: www.fairyhouse.ie


Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival

Where? The Curragh Racecourse, Co. Kildare.

When in 2016?  24 - 26 June

A spectacle of fashion, entertainment, music and the finest racing attracting the crème de la crème of the equine world. The Most Stylish Lady Competition takes place on Saturday with a prize valued at €20,000 and an array of live bands and DJs will perform over the weekend.

Website: www.curragh.ie


Galway Racing Festival

The Famous Galway Races

Where? Galway Race Course, Galway City.

When in 2016?  25 - 31 July  

Ireland’s biggest and most famous racing festival promises seven days of unrivalled action at the height of the summer season in Galway City. With 49 races taking place, and the renowned Galway Festival Ladies Day held on the Thursday, it’s a fantastic day out for everyone.

Website: www.galwayraces.com


Christmas Racing Festival at Leopardstown

Where? Leopardstown Racecourse, Foxrock, Dublin 18.

When in 2016?  26 - 29 December

One of the highlights of the Irish racing and social calendar featuring seven Grade 1 races over four days. See some of the best horses from Ireland and Britain in action at the top level of jumps racing. The Ladies Day showcases some of the best winter racing fashion with elegance and style quite different to the other seasons.

Website: www.leopardstown.com


Christmas Racing Carnival at Limerick Racecourse

Where? Patrickswell, Co. Limerick.

When in 2016?  26 - 29 December

This four day Christmas Racing Carnival at Limerick is synonymous with great National Hunt Racing, a great atmosphere and great fun. There will also be a Most Stylish Ladies Day and a Family Fun Day with face-painting, party games and much more.

Website: www.limerickraces.ie




The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival

Where? Kilkenny City.

Great Comedy Festivals

When in 2016? 2 - 6 June 

Internationally acclaimed festival which showcases the very best in Irish and international comedy acts - celebrating its 22nd birthday in 2016! See a world-class line-up which blends the top Irish and international talent with newcomers and break-through acts.

Website: www.thecatlaughs.com


Vodafone Comedy Carnival Dublin

Where? Dublin City.

When in 2016?  4 days in July (dates TBC).   

Ireland’s largest comedy festival with an astonishing line-up of comedians performing over four days in four fully seated, indoor theatres in the spectacular Iveagh Gardens, Dublin. Expect to see many of the giants of Irish comedy along with a host of stellar international acts from the UK and further afield.

Website: www.vodafonecomedy.com


Vodafone Comedy Carnival Galway

Where? Galway City.

When in 2016?  25 - 31 October   

A 7 day event in Galway city. Enjoy the very best names in comedy from around the world, plus top home-grown headliners, including Dylan Moran and Nina Conti. 'An inspired selection of comedy brilliance' - The Irish Times.

Website: www.vodafonecomedycarnival.com


Hallowe'en Howls Comedy Festival

Where? Portlaoise, Co. Laois.

When in 2016? 27 - 31 October   

Bringing the best of Irish comedy to some of the most intimate venues you will find. Get up close and personal with these household names and be left reeling for more!

Website: www.halloweenhowls.ie





Great Limerick Run

Where? Limerick City.

When in 2016? 1 May

Annual Limerick run with distances including a marathon, relay marathon, half marathon and 6 mile. The routes pass Georgian Limerick heritage, 12th century castles, cathedrals, the majestic River Shannon, the University of Limerick campus and sporting stadia, before finishing in the heart of the city. Musical bands entertain runners & spectators at various sections along the way.

Website: www.greatlimerickrun.com


Vhi Women's Mini Marathon

Where? Dublin City.

When in 2016? 6 June

A 10km race just for women! This is the biggest all women's event of its kind in the world, and has grown from its beginnings in 1983 with almost 9,000 participants to 40,717 women participating in 2013. Over the years, it has raised almost €137 million for charity.

Website: www.florawomensminimarathon.ie


Dublin Marathon

Dublin City Marathon

Where? Dublin City.

When in 2016? 30 October    

2016 will be the 37th year of the Dublin Marathon, which is run through the historic Georgian streets of Dublin, Ireland's largest and capital city. Thousands of boisterous spectators will line the route which is dubbed the 'friendly marathon'.

Website: www.dublinmarathon.ie





Baboró International Arts Festival for Children

Where? Galway City.

When in 2016? 17 - 23 October    

Ireland's leading arts festival for children and families, promising a mBaboro International Arts Festival for Childrenagical week of fun-filled entertainment and excitement with the incredible and awe inspiring performances, engaging exhibitions and interactive workshops.

Website: www.baboro.ie


RoolaBoola Children's Arts Festival

Where? Castlebar, Co. Mayo.

When in 2016? 28 - 31 October   

A fantastic festival for families, offering the very best arts experiences to kids aged 2 to 12. With theatre, film, workshops, music, art & lots of fun!

Website: www.thelinenhall.com


Hullabaloo! Offaly's Children's Arts Festival

Where? Birr & Clara, Co. Offaly.

When in 2016? End of October (dates tbc)

A festival of workshops and performances for children aged 3 to 12 years including everything from beat boxing to puppet making and zombie dancing to origami!

Website: www.offaly.ie


Aisling Children's Arts Festival

Where? Co. Longford.

When in 2016? 7 days in mid-October (dates tbc).   

A multi-disciplinary week-long arts festival for kids with workshops and performances in disciplines such as drama, music, dance and the visual arts.

Website: www.aislingfestival.ie





Cúirt International Festival of Literature

Where? Galway City.

When in 2016? 17 - 24 April 

Cúirt is Ireland's premier writers' festival which hosts writers, poets, playwrights, songwriters, workshops, discussions, debates and lectures in all aspects of the written word. A friendly festival in Ireland's most multicultural city.

Website: www.cuirt.ie


Culture Night

Where? Nationwide.

When in 2016? 1 day in mid-September (date tbc).

On this night, all across Ireland, arts and cultural organisations will open their doors until late with hundreds of free events, tours, talks and performances for you to enjoy. Don’t miss out!

Website: www.culturenight.ie


Open House Dublin

Where? Dublin.

When in 2016? 14 - 16 October (dates tbc).

Ireland's biggest architecture festival which sees buildings of all types open their doors to allow visitors explore the architecture, with special tours by professionals and enthusiasts, all for free!

Website: www.architecturefoundation.ie


Bram Stoker Festival

Where? Dublin City.

When in 2016? 27 - 30 October.

This freaky festival is inspired by the world famous Dublin horror novelist Bram Stoker and his notorious novel Dracula! Enjoy a great line-up of events for adults and kids including fancy dress, spooky stories, music, film screenings, walking tours, a market fair and more.

Website: www.bramstokerfestival.com


Cork Film Festival

Where? Cork City.

When in 2016? 11 - 20 November (dates tbc).

Ireland’s oldest film festival, now in its 61st year, offers an eclectic mix of films, music and ideas to explore some of the burning issues of our time.

Website: www.corkfilmfest.org

Dublin New Years Festival



Where? Dublin City.

When in 2016? 3 days around New Year's Eve

Dublin's New Year Festival will see you ring in the New Year in style with a Countdown Concert and plenty of free events including a fireworks display, torch lit procession, 5 festival zones and the Big Brunch.

Website: www.nyfdublin.ie



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