August Festivals

Plenty on offer for kids (not the goats) with face painting, a pet show (no goats) and puppet theatre No kidd(!)ing, For adults, don your willies mid August and head to the Puck Fair in Killorglin, in a ritual Fr Ted would be proud of involving mad Kerrymen, a coronation ceremony, a hoist (or is that heist) and a wild mountain goat. With the goat crowned as King of the town for the next 3 days and nights all manner of drunkenness and debauchery ensue (the goat remains sober at all times) until King Puck is paraded and released back into the wild, no worse off than when he started, scratching his goatee in bemusement. With its 400th anniversary in 2013, if you are up for some fun and frolics better circle that date in your diary.

In ancient Ireland, Lughnasa was a favored time for handfastings, trial marriages that would generally last a year and a day, with the option of ending the contract before the new year, or later formalizing it as a more permanent marriage. Today Lunasa is celebrated in the medieval city of Kilkenny (when the locals almost forget about hurling) to showcase the best in Irish and international visual art, classical music, theatre and dance, jazz, world & traditional Irish music, literature, film, indie music, craft, children’s and street events for two weeks in August. Of course, some trial marriages may take place over the two weeks for all we know. The Kilkenny Arts Festival brings with it the best in Irish and worldwide art, classic and indie music, theatre and street events. The 10 day event promises an electric, entertaining and energetic presentation of the very best in contemporary arts.

She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer, Yet ’twas not her beauty alone that won me. Oh no, ’twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning That made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee. Held every August (Lunas) and still one of Ireland’s most popular festivals, connecting the global Irish community since 1959. Young women of Irish ancestry from all over the world don their best frocks, practice their party pieces, pledge their lives to saving humanity and are ably escorted in the process by some of the country’s most eligible bachelors, all in the name of good clean fun and be remembered for being what Fr Ted might describe as the lovely girls they all are. The dome remains at the nerve centre of a week’s partying amid street entertainment, carnival, live concerts, theatre, circus, markets, funfair and fireworks.

The first practitioners of dance in Ireland were the Druids, who danced in religious rituals honouring the oak tree and the sun. When the Celts arrived from central Europe over two thousand years ago, they brought with them their own folk dances. Today, Damhsa Fest (the Cork International Folk Dance Festival) brings folk dance groups from some of the most diverse cultures throughout Europe and the world, from as far away as Alexandria in Egypt, Estonia, Western France and West Africa. Damhsafest is held in venues across Cork city and many of the smaller surrounding towns.

Waterville, a stopping off point along the ring of Kerry, with the Skelligs not far offshore and up the coast from Derrynane, ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, the village hosted none another than Charlie Chaplin, who visited the area. Not a man of many words but celebrated as a master comedian and filmmaker from the early twentieth century through the great wars. Today, Waterville celebrates his legacy with showings of some classic Chaplin movies as well as the best of new film comedy. Dont forget your walking sticks and bowler hats.

Check out Killarney for the 2012 Summerfest, where there are activities for all the family all over Killarney’s lakes, valleys and mountains. Plenty going on during the day to keep the kids occupied with fun summer camps and in the evening watch Killarney come to life like never before with some of the world’s best artists, musicians, comedians and street performers.

The Galway Races bring the country to a stop for a full week, as over 200,000 people descend on Ireland’s cultural capital for a racing event like no other. A week-long programme of gee gees steeped in tradition and history. With big races like the Galway Hurdle and Galway Plate on the cards, along with Ladies Day where a parade of fine fashion and hats are on show, the Races have something for punters and fashionistas alike.

For music lovers, head over to Ballybunion for the Atlantic Sessions F estival. Only in its second year, the seaside town promises to host another excellent music festival, with thousands having enjoy last year’s event. 2012 promises plenty of more action, with an outdoor venue accompanied with a street parade, some world class street entertainment  and hot air balloons. As an extra this year, over 1,000 payers will descend on the beach for the All-Ireland Invitational Beach Soccer Cup Finals. Brrrr

Castlepalooza Music and Arts Festival is one of the most picturesque events in Ireland. Held in Charleville Castle in Tullamore, the festival has an intimate setting and friendly atmosphere with a maximum capacity of only 5,000 people.  The rooms of the castle play host to many art and cultural events and it gives the perfect opportunity to explore one of the oldest and best kept castles in Europe.

The Joe Dolan Festival in Mullingar promises another fascinating mix of music, theatre, dance and entertainment. The award winning Reunion Show headlines the festival where Joe is projected alongside a live band for an unforgettable experience at the Mullingar Arts Cente. Bring some spare lingerie girls.

For street entertainment, check out Letterkenny Live where some of the best up and coming bands in the country and some local musicians put on a fantastic on street show for visitors. Some family focused events will take place during the day, showcasing the local culture and there is plenty of things to do at night in Donegal’s capital.

Cavan comes alive for the 2012 edition of the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Traditional music takes centre stage as the atmosphere of the Fleadh transforms Cavan town into one of the most special festivals in the country. Music is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to entertainment and activities for the family to enjoy. The biggest traditional music festival in the world is not to be missed, with plenty of sessioning, pageants, marching bands, competitions, ceilí bands, concerts, exhibitions and arts on offer for the biggest celebration of Irish culture on the planet.