Vibrant music shows and convivial food festivals certainly don’t end with summer in Ireland. An action-packed programme of activities in autumn means guests staying at Red Carnation Hotels’ Ashford Castle and The Lodge at Ashford Castle can enjoy some of the island’s finest cultural offerings. From the alternative music spectacle of Sligo Live to the nationwide tribute to Irish arts on Culture Night, here are our favourite autumn festivals in Ireland.
A country-wide event, Culture Night celebrates Ireland’s diverse arts scene and unique heritage. The charming medieval city of Galway is an hour’s drive from Ashford Castle and offers a sparkling line-up of inspiring poetry workshops, thought-provoking story recitals and high-octane dance performances as part of the event. Get to know Galway with local guide Brendan J Hynes, who’s offering a tour that takes in the city’s historic roll-call of famous artists and writers. Don’t miss Galway’s buzzing art galleries, and finish the evening with some foot-tapping to sean-nós(old-style) Irish songs.
21st September 2018
Galway, various locations
Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival
When it comes to traditional cuisine, Ireland may be better known for its steaming lamb stews, potato pancakes and soda bread, but it should also be celebrated for its excellent seafood. At Ashford Castle, guests can feast on the freshest catch from the Atlantic, including as plump scallops, brown crab and Dooncastle oysters. What’s more plump scallops, wild Atlantic salmon, Dublin Bay prawns and fresh oysters all star at the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival. One of Europe’s longest-running culinary events, the festival has been held on the last weekend of September every year since 1954 and reels in more than 20,000 visitors. Expect colourful street parades, seafood trails and the highly competitive World Oyster Opening Championships to see who’s crowned 2018’s nimblest oyster shucker.
28th – 30th September 2018
Lurching giddily from Irish folk music to walkabout tours of Westport’s pretty Georgian town centre and art exhibitions by local talent, Westival’s programme has something to suit all tastes. The coast-hugging town sparks to life over the October bank holiday weekend with an exciting line-up of musical performances, creative art installations and family-friendly entertainment.
24th – 29th October 2018
Westport, County Mayo
Focused on folk, acoustic and indie genres, Sligo Live is a music festival that showcases contemporary international talent alongside traditional Irish artists. The Wild Atlantic Coast is the scenic backdrop to this exciting event, with hotly anticipated performances from The Boomtown Rats, singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens and tribute band The Bootleg Beatles. Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain is also scheduled to perform the final show of his Voice of Reason tour, lining up Sligo Live as the most star-studded festival in Ireland this autumn.
24th – 29th October 2018
Mayo Dark Sky Festival
Three nights of stargazing, torchlit guided hikes and fascinating cosmic exhibitions make the Mayo Dark Sky Festival extraordinarily unique. Centred around Mayo Dark Sky Park – one of the best sites in the world to see the stars – it’s an excellent opportunity for night sky enthusiasts to learn all about astronomy from the experts. Activities and exhibitions for all ages introduce the wonders of the crystal-clear skies of the west coast – and the universe beyond.
2nd – 4th November 2018
Mayo Dark Sky Park, Newport
Image credits: lead image © Boyd Challenger/International Oyster and Seafood Festival. Galway bar © Busker Browns of Cross Street. International Oyster and Seafood Festival © Boyd Challenger/International Oyster and Seafood Festival. Harbour near Sligo © iStock/p-pix.