Ireland is a country filled with an abundance of festivals of all kinds. Some of these are world famous, such as the Galway Arts Festival and Cork Jazz Festival, but there are many festivals which are perhaps less well known but none less deserving of a visit. As the Wild Atlantic Way passes through so many towns, villages and communities it offers a wide variety of festivals, of all kinds, throughout the year. We’ve selected five festivals on the Wild Atlantic Way which are quite unique and are ideal for combining with a walking or cycling holiday.
Dingle International Film Festival – Dingle, Co. Kerry (12th March to 15th March)
The picturesque town of Dingle was once one of the most important port towns in Ireland but nowadays it is a hub for exploring the peninsula. The Dingle International Film Festival has been running for nine years and every year it plays host to well-known actors and directors as well as some of the pioneers of the technical aspects of film-making. For the duration of the festival there are a number of venues around the town which screen films from various genres, there are workshops and Q&A sessions as well as the annual awarding of the ‘Gregory Peck Award’. If you’re a movie buff and are looking for a cycle in one of the most breath-taking parts of Ireland then the Wild Atlantic Way in mid-march is the place for you to be.
Conamara Bog Week – Letterfrack, Co. Galway (22nd May – 1st June)
Letterfrack was founded by Quakers in the mid-19th century and the village sits in a magnificent setting on the edge of Connemara National Park, in the shadow of Diamond Hill.
Conamara Bog Week which is based in Letterfrack is a multi-disciplinary festival which has been running for more than 30 years. The festival provides a space for expression for the whole community and offers a perfect excuse to visit this unspoilt region of the country. This festival has a bit of everything: from sporting events to art exhibitions to walks to talks to music events, not to mention events celebrating the renowned Connemara Lamb. Why not spend a few extra days in the area and enjoy a truly local Irish festival.
Burren Tolkien Festival – The Burren, Co. Clare (26th June to 3rd July)
The Burren is one of the most unique landscapes in the Europe. It covers an area of approximately 250 square kilometres of natural limestone pavements and is renowned for its assemblage of flora and fauna.
The rugged, eerie landscape of The Burren is believed to have been a major influence on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Elements of Irish mythology and a cave known as Poll na gColm (Pole na Gollum) are believed to have provided inspiration to the writer. The festival itself features themed walks, art, creative writing and photography workshops, exhibitions, expert talks and of course lots of food and drink. The festival is a great opportunity to explore your artistic, creative side while enjoying a cycling holiday in the midst of an other-worldly landscape.
Fleadh Cheoil – Sligo Town (9th August to 16th August)
The Fleadh Cheoil began in 1951 and is the biggest traditional Irish music festival on the planet. The 2015 edition involve hundreds of events over 9 days in 49 venues.
The Fleadh is a competition for amateur musicians but it also a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in Irish music and culture. The first half of the week involves classes for people of all ages and abilities in traditional Irish music. Along with the music there will also be films, seminars, street performaces, markets, and walking and historical tours. The evenings are filled with cosy pubs with lively sing-alongs and plenty of ‘craic’.
A Taste of West Cork Food Festival – Skibbereen, Co. Cork (4th September to 13th September)
West Cork is renowned for the variety and abundance of artisan food producers, inviting pubs and wonderful restaurants. What better way to celebrate (and taste) all that’s great about Irish produce than a visit to Skibbereen in September. Among the events taking place during the festival will be farm tours, exhibitions, music recitals, whale watching, walks, workshops, visits to producers and of course, loads of wonderful food and drink to delight your tastebuds. Local restaurants will team up with guest chefs for speciality meals and the festival concludes with the much anticipated Street Market.
For more information about events and festivals on the Wild Atlantic Way or to book your walking and cycling holidays on the Wild Atlantic Way and the rest of Ireland, contact the IrelandWays.com travel specialists.