Are you planning for the best time to visit the Emerald Isle? Get to know the holidays and the top events by reviewing our review on the Irish calendar so that you can get the most out of your travel. In addition, we will also walk you through the impact of the pandemic on traditional Irish celebrations in order to set your expectations accordingly. Let's get to know more about this below!
Just as with any other country, the Irish people observe a number of unique cultural holidays and colorful festivals. However, as a rule of thumb, please note that visiting during these times can be a hassle since most establishments (like banks and government offices) are close down. So, our advice? Be sure to have cash on hand before you hit the streets and do the classic pub crawl. Here are the most significant special events to watch out for in the 2021 to 2022 Irish calendar:
January is a high time for celebrating New Year's Day (January 1) and the Irish music and culture festival (January 20-24).
February is one of the best months to visit the country as the flowers are starting to bloom! Several local festivals are to be checked out during this month, starting with St. Brigid's day (popularly known as the Féile Bríde), commemorating peace and justice within the country. There is also Éigse na Brídeoige, or the Irish cultural festival which takes place on the first weekend of February and is celebrated in the Gaeltacht area. As an exclusive celebration, Ireland also holds the Chinese New Year Festival from the 4th of February to the 26th.
This is the time for the week-long St. Patrick's Festival (12th to 17th of March), and it is perhaps Ireland's most famous celebration known across the world. This is an important event that celebrates Irish people's Christianity, culture, and history and is the best opportunity for tourists to experience what Ireland has to offer. During this time, there will be a number of public parades, carnival exhibitions, music, fireworks, marching bands, and people are expected to wear green/white attire or shamrocks.
Given that Ireland is also a very religious country, the people celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday. There is also an Irish Vegan festival every 5th of April in Belfast, which a private animal rescue group locally organizes. This is also the month of the Pan Celtic Festival, which runs for five days and is celebrated with cultural dance, medieval song, parades, and sports. Finally, if you are interested in dancing, you can also score tickets to watch live the World Irish Dancing Championships held in Dublin.
Another great month to visit, May is known for the Deep RiverRock marathon, Daily Mirror May Day races, international literature festival, Wicklow arts festival, and the Cat laughs comedy festival.
During this month, the Irish people celebrate Bloomsday, also known as James Joyce day. It is observed annually in Dublin every June 16 and is considered a special event for commemorating the rich literary legacy of the country. If this is your first time attending this, you must be sure to get some medieval/ Edwardian costumes and visit places (like the James Joyce Tower and Museum) mentioned in the classic story of Ulysses.
For the last weekend of June, Ireland also holds the Inis Mor Patrún Festival to celebrate St. Enda. This is an ideal celebration for those looking for some quality time with their family. This features boat (or currachs) racing events, tug-of-war activities, sandcastle competitions, and road races in the Aran Islands.
The month of July is known for the Galways arts festival and the Battle of Boyne anniversary. The Galway arts festival usually runs in the middle of July. It is known for its selection of fun activities such as horse races, literary evenings, concerts, street shows, arts, and parades. As for the Battle of Boyne (also known as Orangeman's Day), this event is celebrated through protestant marches every July 12 in Belfast and other cities.
The month of August is known for the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann or Ireland's summer festival for traditional music. During the early to mid-August, local competitions are held, and you can also get a glimpse of exhibitions from previous Irish champions. The Lughnasa fair is also held in the Carrickfergus Castle, where people dress in Celtic costumes, participate in medieval games, traditional food, and learn more about the historical site.
You can also join the Puck Fair, known as Ireland's oldest fair and popular due to its pub trail and concert. After some of the traditional Irish poetry, films, plays, and music, you can also check out the Kilkenny arts festival, which usually runs for seven days.
Ireland is known for its amazing history in literature, so there is no surprise they hold different festivals for this alone. If you are after some new plays from the Irish artists and international productions, you better check out the Dublin Theatre Festival, which runs from late September to mid-October. There's also the popular Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, a singles' event for those searching for their one true love.
September is the best month to visit for sports enthusiasts since this is the time for the All-Ireland Hurling & Gaelic Football Finals. This is like the Super Bowl version in Ireland.
Aside from the Halloween celebration, there are other events that you should watch out for. For cookery demonstrations, street entertainment, wine tasting, and food extravaganza, the Dingle Food Festival offers deals that you cannot miss. This special event is held every year in early October (usually starts on the first day of October) and is perfect for families looking to experience Irish cuisine. The Belfast International Arts Festival and the Cork Guinness Jazz festival are held from mid-October to the last day of the month.
The most important event for November is Remembrance Sunday which is held in Northern Ireland. During this time, people will wear poppies on the lapels of their jackets and will stay silent for two minutes starting at 11:00. This is done in remembrance of those who died in WWI.
Every December, there are three events: St. Stephens's day (26th of the month), Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve.
While these celebrations are truly exciting, some of these are indefinitely suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As of writing, the virus has massively affected Europe and there are reports that the situation is getting worse than before despite the ongoing vaccination. Therefore, to prevent further complications, the government has mandated that all incoming tourists undergo the COVID-19 test and complete the passenger locator form. In addition, you have to undergo a two-week quarantine before you are given a chance to roam around.
Based on their government mandates, Ireland is consistently promoting that people should avoid nonessential travel. If needed, it would be wise to visit the country only when you are fully vaccinated with any of these four approved vaccines:
As we reach this part of the post, we hope you could get to know which month you would like to visit. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter and check out our previous posts, like introducing yourself in Irish and the basic greetings and phrases to navigate Ireland with style.
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