Fáilte Ireland Top Ten Must See festival List



Summer may be over but your plans to visit the many festivals taking place across the country don’t have to be. Whether you want to discover Ireland’s mouth-watering food festivals or get your arts and culture fix, Fáilte Ireland have compiled their list of the top festivals taking place this Autumn.

Across Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, the Wild Atlantic Way and Dublin, there is a wealth of festivals taking place over the coming months, with something for everyone throughout the season.

  1. Genealogy & Irish Music Weekend – Donegal

The Global Irish Festival Series continues in Donegal with the Genealogy and Irish Music Weekend (20th -21st October) which remembers our ancestors who travelled to Scotland to work as herring-gutters, tattie hoakers and tunnel tigers in the twentieth century. West Donegal will be a hub of activity as their descendants are welcomed home for what promises to be a very memorable weekend.

2.Food on the Edge – Galway

This foodie’s delight festival (22nd – 23rd October) brings together top international chefs for a two-day Food Symposium in Galway City. Irish chef JP McMahon founded the festival in 2015 to create a benchmark for best practice, in terms of food, its culture, and the people who produce it, generating debate and thought leadership on the future of food. Chosen for their innovation and influence on today’s food culture, each chef talks for 15 minutes on the cultural, social, environmental and educational aspects of food. Leading international chefs Andoni Luis Aduriz, Enrique Olvera, Albert Adria, Vladimir Mukhin and Dan Hunter are among the speakers for the 2018 edition, along with Carri Thurman & Sharon Roufa, owners of Two Sisters Bakery in Alaska and Lauren Singer, the New York City-based, zero-waste devotee behind the Trash Is For Tossers project.

3.Vodafone Comedy Carnival – Galway

The annual funny fest takes place in Galway (23rd -29th October). Comedy legend, Dylan Moran is one of the headliners, but with over 100 acts performing across eighteen venues in the city of tribes, there is something to suit everyone’s comedic tastes.

4.Richard Harris International Film Festival – Limerick

As part of the Global Irish Festival Series, the IFTA affiliated Richard Harris International Film Festival takes place in Limerick, the home of Richard Harris, at the end of October (25th- 29th). It marks the life and works of Ireland’s first leading man.   This is currently the only Film Festival in Ireland which specifically encourages Irish Filmmakers living abroad to return and showcase their work. Celebrating its 6th year, it is an international film festival, that collaborates with Newport Beach Film Festival in California.  With a unique VOD platform (in association with Shift 72), there will be live performances and a sports documentary section (in association with Mandalay Sports Media) as well a side conference (Interactive Media & Entertainment Technology Summit –  iMET). And of course, the live-streamed Red Carpet (black-tie) Awards Night and numerous after parties.

 5.Savour Kilkenny – Kilkenny

From 25th – 29th October, Savour Kilkenny returns for four days over the Halloween Bank Holiday Weekend. The festival will host unique events for all the family including Yoga, Storytelling for Kids, Introduction to Bee-Keeping, and wellness talk, ‘Unlock Your Full Potential’ with rugby analyst Brent Pope and former Irish international track & field athlete David Gillick. The historical medieval city will transform into a foodie haven with interactive cooking demonstrations, quirky dining events, beer and wine tasting, live entertainment and a bustling food market full of the Kilkenny’s best local produce. There will also be masterclasses and interactive demos hosted by award-winning chefs including Kevin Thornton and JP McMahon, as well as Rosanna Davidson and The Happy Pear.

6.Bram Stoker Festival – Dublin

Experience four days of deadly adventures at this ghoulish festival from 26th – 29th October, and which takes inspiration from the Dublin horror novelist and author, Bram Stoker. There’s a great selection of frightfully fun events including theatre performances, street animation, film, and literary events, just in time to get in the spooky spirit of Hallowe’en. Don’t miss world-renowned aerial performance company ‘Loosysmokes’ who present the world premiere of a thrilling new circus show, ‘Night of the Shifting Bog’, a night-time performance in St. Anne’s Park, Clontarf. Using the woodlands in the park as their stage, the dark and frenetic aerial acrobatics show in the centuries-old trees will wow and spook!  Also, the stunning ‘NYsferatu: Symphony of a Century’ by Andrea Mastrovito will be screened, accompanied by a live score by internationally celebrated composer Matthew Nolan, in St. Anne’s Church, Dawson St.

7.Kilkenny Kilkenomics – Kilkenny

It promises to all add up to be a truly intellectual fun-filled weekend in Kilkenny with Kilkenny Kilkenomics from 8th to 11th November. This unique festival combines economic discussion panel shows liberally sprinkled with comedy. A weekend where the world is put to right, turned upside down and righted again.  Kilkenny, of course, is a city worth visiting at any time of the year with its wealth of great craft shops – including the National Craft Gallery and The Kilkenny Design Centre.  Or call into one of Ireland’s best-known potters, Nicholas Mosse at his workshop in Bennetsbridge or take the short trip to Thomastown and watch sand being turned into beautiful glassware before your eyes at the Jerpoint Glass Studios.

8.Sneem International Storytelling & Folklore Festival – Kerry

Now in its seventh year, this wonderful festival in the picturesque village of Sneem on the Ring of Kerry, takes place 9th-11th November and celebrates storytelling, Ireland’s oldest art form. This year’s line-up includes storytelling pub trails, storytelling guided countryside walks, Story Swap sessions, lunchtime theatre, lectures, adult and children’s workshops. There is a Storytelling concert on Friday night with tellers from the USA and across Ireland with special guest singer/songwriter John Spillane. On Saturday evening, you can enjoy a Young Tellers Concert followed by Fishamble’s ‘Silent’, performed by Pat Kinevane. If you have a yarn, bring it along. If you don’t sit back and just be a part of the magic in the heart of Sneem.

9.Cork Film Festival – Cork

Get your tickets and popcorn for the Cork Film festival (9th – 18th November), very much a film lovers’ festival, and every year it attracts directors, actors, and film fanatics alike. One of Cork’s most significant annual cultural events and Ireland’s largest film festival, it celebrates local, national, and international cinema. The programme includes screenings of features, documentaries, and shorts from new discoveries to old cinema classics. Cork Film Festival takes place across Cork city-centre venues including The Gate Cinema, The Everyman and Triskel Christchurch. With over 80% of the films shown during the festival being the only opportunity for audiences to see them on the big screen, it’s a festival not be missed for cinema lovers!

10.The Jonathan Swift Festival – Dublin

At the end of November, The Jonathan Swift Festival runs in Dublin (29th November – 2nd December), exploring the life and legacy of one of Ireland’s most treasured authors and creator of Gulliver’s Travels. The festival hosts a range of events across Dublin including masterclasses, markets, workshops, and exhibitions, all celebrating the life and times of Jonathan Swift. You can join in on one of the public debates taking place, have a “Swift Beer” at their 18th century tasting session and enjoy the magic of “Gulliver’s Fair”, a market place where Swift’s most famous work comes to life.

With such as wealth of festivals to choose from this year, there is simply no excuse not to enjoy a fantastic experience with family and friends.

For more information on these and other arts & culture festivals visit:


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