So, you want to join the party in Ireland in 2014? Here is a comprehensive list of festivals and events worth keeping your eyes open and calendar free for. Sorted month by month in strictly chronological order. Not all may be your cup of tea, but there should be something for everyone ...
January 2014 Festivals in Ireland
Out to Lunch - January 2nd to 26th - Belfast
With people as diverse as Eamon Dunphy and Edna O'Brien appearing, the Belfast festival kicks off the year 2014 with a wide-ranging smorgasbord of music, spoken word and comedy to chase away the winter blues. And to make you think.
More Information on their website - cqaf.com
The Dead Weekend - January 4th to 6th - Dublin
James Joyce's celebrated short story ("The Dead", last part of "Dubliners") is a hundred years old and toasted through a whole weekend consisting of workshops, learned talks and a Joycean dinner party on the Sunday.
More Information on their website - jamesjoyce.ie
Theatre of Memory - January 16th to 18th - Dublin
Ten years older, the Abbey Theatre can celebrate the 110th anniversary of its first opening with a number of illustrious guests, ranging from Irish President Michael D Higgins via Richard Kearney, Frank McGuinness, Catriona Crowe, Declan Kiberd to Roddy Doyle. Three days of lectures, plays and readings, maybe with some controversy and scandal thrown in for tradition's sake.
More Information on their website - abbeytheatre.ie
Temple Bar Tradfest - January 22nd to 26th - Dublin
Traditional (but not only Irish) music played in the middle of Dublin, bringing life into the city. Acts announced include De Danann, Altan, Stockton's Wing, Carlos Nunez ... and what is billed as the "world's first trad nightclub", dubbed Super Céilí, in (by now covered) Meeting House Square.
More Information on their website - templebartrad.com
February 2014 Festivals in Ireland
Clonakilty International Board Games - February 7th to 9th - Clonakilty
From backgammon to chess, with Monopoly thrown in (might be a reminder of those wild "Celtic Tiger" years were many Irish burned real money in a property ponzi), it is time to play. A spread of food and drink is laid in as well, guess the famous black pudding will make an appearance too.
More Information on their website - clonakiltygamesfestival.com
Other Voices Derry - February 7th to 9th - Derry/Londonderry
Other Voices is normally a Kerry festival, but the whole thing makes a guest appearance in Derry City (or Londonderry, if you prefer). Promising inspirational and new music that spans borders of all sorts at the interesting Glassworks venue. Actor Aidan Gillen will be among the hosts - a far cry from his role as crime kingpin in Love/Hate.
More Information on their website - othervoices.ie
Cork Spring - February 12th to 15th - Cork City
Poetry in Munster - Jo Shapcott, Paul Muldoon, Leontia Flynn and former US poet laureate Billy Collins will be just some of the big names coming to the Cork Arts Theatre for the Munster Literature Centre's yearly festival. It will put a poetic spring in your step, so to say.
More Information on their website - corkpoetryfest.net
Jameson Dublin Film Festival - February 13th to 23rd - Dublin
Always a good place to see new films that won't make it (more than likely) into your local multi-screen complex ... from the experimental to the obscure, from well-known names to (up to now, at least) unknown nobodies wielding camcorders.
More Information on their website - jdiff.com
Belfast Nashville - February 28th to March 9th - Belfast
Well, as the name says, y'all will listen to American music. From country to western, with blues and rock thrown in. Expect the appearance of legends, Donovan (yes, him, the Pied Piper of "Atlantis" fame) and Midge Ure (the Scottish dynamo behind such diverse acts as Slick, Ultravox and Band Aid) are scheduled to perform.
More Information on their website - belfastnashville.com
March 2014 Festivals in Ireland
New Music Dublin - March 6th to 9th - Dublin
Donnacha Dennehy, composer and founder of the Crash Ensemble, is the curator of this festival highlighting contemporary music in the National Concert Hall. Not "contemporary" as in X Factor pop style and Louis Walsh, mind you. Like a string quartet, performed entirely in the dark ... sixty minutes dedicated to musical imaginings of snow ... a homage to the ground-breaking (and by now classic, in a sense) music of German band Kraftwerk.
More Information on their website - newmusicdublin.ie
Saint Patrick's Festival - March 14th to 17th - Dublin
While everyone seems to think first of the US import, the huge parade with (mostly imported) marching bands, the festival in honour of Ireland's patron saint had so much more to offer. From street performances to poems, from themed walking tours to traditional storytelling, a funfair and so on. Dublin will be "Patrick Central" again, a quieter day may be enjoyed in the province ...
More Information on their website - stpatricksfestival.ie
Offset - March 21st to 23rd - Dublin
All sorts of graphic artists - from illustrators to animators with a smattering of graphic designers and production people thrown in - the international mix of creativity and commerce will convene in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
More Information on their website - iloveoffset.com
April 2014 Festivals in Ireland
One City One Book - April - Dublin
Running all month, the Dublin event will try to explore a collection of poems, ballads and songs - If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song. Which will mean loads of diversity, more than with single works. Associated events will pop up around Dublin all through April, be warned.
More Information on their website - dublinonecityonebook.ie
Cúirt - April 8th to 13th - Galway
Last year's crowd puller Seamus Heaney will certainly be remembered, the Nobel laureate passed away shortly after his gig at the Galway literature festival in 2013. Expect a mixed, varied and often surprising programme including poetry, fiction and all sorts of writing and art ...
More Information on their website - cuirt.ie
EVA International - April 12th to July 6th - Limerick
The biennial exhibition, in its 36th incarnation, focussing on Irish and international contemporary art will be curated this year by Egyptian Bassam el Baroni (Alexandria). Expect the unexpected.
More Information on their website - eva.ie
Phase One - April 19th to 20th - Carrick-on-Shannon
The Dock in Carrick-on-Shannon will be the venue to be for DJs, bands and all sorts of folks involved with electronic music. The festival over Easter will provide showcases and workshops. Turn up da beatz.
More Information on their website - phaseonefestival.com
Cork International Choral Festival - April 30th to May 4th - Cork City
A wealth of choirs from around the world will once again head for Cork City and participate in what is now regarded as one of (at least) Europe's top choral festivals. Choir concerts, choir competitions and a rousing no-holds-barred performance of Carmina Burana at Cork City Hall are on the menu.
More Information on their website - corkchoral.ie
May 2014 Festivals in Ireland
Bealtaine - May
This will be a wide-ranging, geographically as well as thematically, all-month celebration of creativity in the merry month of May. With works by absolute beginners (read: first-time artists) and professionals (read: artists with a track record). The aim: producing new and challenging work, together or inspired by each other. Trying to take everything in will be impossible, I guess ... so pick your own favourites.
More Information on their website - bealtaine.com
Cathedral Quarter Festival - May 1st to 11th - Belfast
A mix of music, theatre, comedy and literature - all happening around Saint Anne's Cathedral in Belfast's city centre.
More Information on their website - cqaf.com
Dublin Writers' Festival - May 17th to 25th - Dublin
Writers from both Ireland and foreign shores will head for the capital and some literary venues, mainly the National Library, the James Joyce Museum and Tower, the Long Room in Trinity College's Old Library and the Chester Beatty Library. Readings, discussions, workshops and film screenings (of all things) will aim to highlight the book as a still valid, more than ever exciting medium.
More Information on their website - dublinwritersfestival.com
Fleadh Nua - May 18th to 26th - Ennis
The County Clare town throws a more-than-full week of traditional music at the masses, hand-made and live in many venues dotted around town. This year will see performances by Four Men and a Dog, the Kilfenora Céilí Band and even an evening of Bulgarian music and dance.
More Information on their website - fleadhnua.com
Dublin Dance Festival - May 20th to 31st - Dublin
Bodies in Urban Spaces will transform Dublin into a stage and mesmerise the viewers. Another highlight should be British choreographer Russell Maliphant with his ensemble.
More Information on their website - dublindancefestival.ie
Love Live Music - planned for May 21st
Update May 15th: Just received notice that "love:live music will not be taking place in 2014, it will be back in 2015".
More Information on their website - lovelivemusic.ie
Drop Everything - May 23rd to 25th - Inisheer
A biannual festival of contemporary visual art, music and fashion, everything is funded by online donations, and the venue is highly unusual to boot - Inisheer, smallest of the Aran Islands.
More Information on their website - dropeverything.net
Life - 23rd to 25th - Mullingar
Electronic musicians set up shop in the sprawling grounds of Belvedere House near Mullingar in County Westmeath. Will local pop hero and One Direction sunnyboy Niall Horan make an appearance? Not on stage, one hopes ...
More Information on their website - life-festival-com
Listowel Writers' Week - May 28th to June 1st - Listowel
Douglas Kennedy will host a workshop on how to write a novel, the late Seamus Heaney's Irish publisher, Peter Fallon of Gallery Press, will talk about poetry and "Getting Started" will try to get budding writers into the groove.
More Information on their website - writersweek.ie
Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival - May 29th to June 1st - Ballyshannon
Ireland's one (and maybe only) great blues guitarist is once more commemorated through a sprawling weekend involving open-air concerts, covered venues, blues sessions galore and exhibitions on the man himself in the seaside town of Ballyshannon.
More Information on their website - rorygallagherfestival.com
Sky Cat Laughs - May 29th to June 2nd - Kilkenny
Many less well known, but also some household names - comedians and those into comedy will head for Kilkenny City for the revived festival that already had a good reboot in 2013.
More Information on their website - thecatlaughs.com
June 2014 Festivals in Ireland
Clonmel Junction - June 4th to 13th - Clonmel
A mixture of circus, music festival, dance event and general art spectacle which completely transforms the town of Clonmel into one big (and at times almost magical) event space. Loads of attractions for all ages and tastes, though the variety may at times be a bit bewildering.
More Information on their website - junctionfestival.com
Ennis Street Festival - June 4th to 6th - Ennis
A community event in the Clare town, as almost everybody becomes involved in one way or the other, creating a festival that may combine acrobatics, music, dance, all sorts of visual arts and, for the more seriously minded, workshops to get it right.
More Information on their website - ennisstreetfestival.com
Éigse Carlow - June 6th to15th - Carlow Town
Now in its 35th year, this local arts festival brings exhibitions on a grand scale to the Visual Centre for Contemporary Art, fireworks over the river Barrow, mixed with a comprehensive music programme and some choice theatrical offerings to boot.
More Information on their website - eigsecarlow.ie
Live at the Marquee - June 9th to July 5th - Cork City
The annual music event is a festival "in stages", more a string of individual concerts than anything else. But the choice they are offering is simply mouthwatering. Amongst this year's performers are relative newcomers Elbow and the Coronas, the legend that is The Pixies, the godfather of grunge Neil Young (complete with Crazy Horse), seminal Welsh crooner and belter Tom Jones and, last but not least, curly-haired rock god Robert Plant.
More Information on their website - marqueecork.com
Immrama - June 12th to 15th - Lismore
Travel is the key word in the charming heritage town of Lismore in County Waterford, a travel destination in its own right and host to this fascinating festival of travel writing. Let your fantasy take flight, guided by some of the best travel writers in the business.
More Information on their website - lismoreimmrama.com
Borris House Festival of Writing and Ideas - June 14th and 15th
Borris House near the Blackstairs Mountains in County Carlow is the location for an array of speakers on themes that range from the pleasant to provocation. In 2014 Roy Foster, Patrick McGrath, John Banville, Polly Samson and Stephen Frears are amongst the confirmed speakers.
More Information on their website - festivalofwritingandideas.com
Bloomsday - June 16th - Dublin
More of the usual, as aficionados and posers alike step out in the footsteps of Leopold Bloom, reciting Joyce whom they never read, most of them, in entirety, concentrating on the juicy bits with Molly and the Gorgonzola sandwich as well, meandering from dawn to dusk through Dublin, so hated and loved by the writer ... that's Bloomsday in a nutshell.
More Information on their website - jamesjoyce.ie
Body and Soul - June 20th to 22nd - Ballinlough Castle
Summer solstice stylish at the "boutique festival" in the grounds of Ballinlough Castle (County Westmeath). A family event, with a special area to keep the very young ones entertained.
More Information on their website - bodyandsoul.ie
Cork Midsummer - June 21st to 30th - Cork City
Transforming Cork into an event space with some surprises ... a unique festival.
More Information on their website - corkmidsummer.com
Sea Sessions - June 27th to 29th - Bundoran
The seaside resort of Bundoran in County Donegal reinvents itself as the northern Mecca of surfing, skating and music. A very vibrant and young festival, with loads of tanned, beautiful people.
More Information on their website - seassessions.com
Drogheda Samba Festival - 27th to 29th - Drogheda
Latin and African music and dance transform the harbour town of Drogheda into an Irish Rio ... well, sort of ... a lot depends on the weather and the fake tan might be a bit too orange at times. Renowned for five-hour non-stop samba sessions in the middle of town. Also give the "Samba Mass" a try.
More Information on their website - droghedasamba.com
West Cork Chamber Music Festival - June 27th to July 5th - County Cork
Maybe Ireland's best chamber music event, nearly fifty concerts featuring well-known chamber musicians are spread over time and space. Venues include Saint Brendan's Church and Bantry House.
More Information on their website - westcorkmusic.ie
Westport Festival of Music and Performing Arts - June 28th to 29th - Westport
The grounds surrounding Westport House, a short walk from the centre of town, play host to old stalwarts like Bryan Adams and Kool and the Gang.
More Information on their website - westportfestival.com
July 2014 Festivals in Ireland
Hay Festival Kells - July 3rd to 6th - Kells
This is the Irish version of the Welsh Hay-on-Wye Festival, concentrating on books, books and more books. Those who have experienced the original may find the short transformation of the Meath Heritage Town into a "book town" a bit ... er ... lacking.
More Information on their website - hayfestival.com
Groove - July 5th and 6th - Bray
Last year's festival in the County Wicklow seaside resort was immediately shortlisted for the best new festival in Europe award ... so it will be a hard act to follow. The grounds of Kilruddery House are where the action will be at.
More Information on their website - groovefestival.ie
West Cork Literary Festival - July 6th to 12th - County Cork
Poetry presented by Maurice Riordan, historical fiction as spun by Mary Morrissy, scriptwriting according to Abbie Spallen, writing for children in the vein of Oisín McGann - the workshops and events do not seem to end. You'll be producing a potential bestseller in no time.
More Information on their website - westcorkmusic.ie
Earagail Arts Festival - July 12th to 26th - County Donegal
A wide-ranging programme of music, visual arts, circus and theatre in both English and Irish, all played out in the stunning landscape provided by Ireland's northjernmost county.
More Information on their website - eaf.ie
Street Performance World Championships
July 12th to 14th - Dublin
July 20th and 21st - Cork City
Jugglers, acrobats, people swallowing swords, balancing improbable objects, playing with fire or just taking the Mickey ... here you'll have it all at world class level. And with loads of hangers-on at the fringes ... some as good as the pros, others best given a wide berth.
More Information on their website - spwc.ie
Galway International Arts Festival - July 14th to 27th - Galway City
Galway puts on a special glow during the annual festival season. With dance, theatre and all sorts of spectacle from near and far complementing a music programme and many open-air parties in the streets.
More Information on their website - giaf.ie
Longitude - July 18th to 20th - Dublin
Festival in Dublin's Marlay Park - acts to be confirmed.
More Information on their website - longitude.ie
Sligo Jazz Project - July 22nd to 27th - Sligo Town
Jazzing up Yeats' old haunts are workshops, ensemble classes, jam sessions and everything jazz that you can cram into it, from traditional to experimental.
More Information on their website - sligojazz.ie
Knockanstockan - July 25th to 27th - Blessington
On the fringes of County Wicklow are the Blessington Lakes, Dublin's fresh water supply - and here an indie festival has established itself as a showcase for up-and-(hopefully)-coming bands. Great landscape, solid performances.
More Information on their website - knockanstockan.ie
Happy Days - July 31st to August 10th - Enniskillen
Not the Fonz is the focus, but the life and work of Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett. Expect experimental takes on an already often experimental literary giant.
More Information on their website - happy-days-enniskillen.com
August 2014 Festivals in Ireland
CastlePalooza - August 1st to 3rd - Charleville Castle
A music festival in the grounds of a castle from the 17th century (near Tullamore), which also hosts art exhibitions and workshops ... and relaxing walks in the woodlands. Plus some spa treatments thrown in. Acts for 2014 to be confirmed.
More Information on their website - castlepalooza.com
Indiependence - August 1st to 3rd - Mitchelstown
Indie rock festival in County Cork - acts for 2014 to be confirmed.
More Information on their website - indiependencefestival.com
Spraoi - August 1st to 3rd - Waterford City
The festival is named using the Irish word for "exuberance", and the cup certainly overfloweth here - with street theatre being the main thing, a massive parade and loads of of newly-commissioned work.
More Information on their website - spraoi.com
Dublin Horse Show - August 6th to 10th - Dublin
Crafts, fashion, prices for the best-dressed ladies, live music, gourmet food, showjumping, hurdles, horses, all at the RDS Showgrounds. The society event in Dublin, not just for the equine set.
More Information on their website - dublinhorseshow.com
Kilkenny Arts Festival - August 8th to 17th - Kilkenny City
The "medieval" streets of Kilkenny will play host to all sorts of shenanigans that can be covered by the blanket term "art", from serious theatre to street musicians after the fast buck. Expect some well-known names, some surprises and lots of people in a small city.
More Information on their website - kilkennyarts.ie
Puck Fair - August 10th to 12th - Killorglin
There'll be busking, set dancing, traditional singing and a goat at County Kerry's most traditional festival.
More Information on their website - puckfair.ie
Fleadh Ceoil na hEireann - August 10th to 17th - Sligo
After four years in Ulster, the national traditional music festival comes to Connacht - with around 10,000 musicians and an expected 300,000 music lovers to listen to them. You might want to take it in sparingly - an overdose of traditional music is easily accumulated during the annual event.
More Information on their website - fleadhcheoil.ie
The Rose of Tralee - August 15th to 19th - Tralee
A rose by any other name is not the Rose of Tralee ... Ireland's answer to every beauty and talent contest that has ever been, with the "lovely girls" required to be squeaky clean and, above all, Irish. Even is they are from foreign fields ...
More Information on their website - roseoftralee.ie
Electric Picnic - August 29th to 31st - Stradbally Estate
Thomas Cosby once again invites choice musicians and entertainers as well as the paying public onto his front lawn in County Laois. The list of artists for 2014 is yet to be confirmed.
More Information on their website - electricpicnic.ie
September 2014 Festivals in Ireland
Dublin Fringe Festival - September 5th to 22nd - Dublin
The Fringe has a new curator, Kris Nelson from Montreal - so expect a fresh approach to a successful event, as ever featuring unconventional events alongside the more traditional fare.
More Information on their website - fringefest.com
Harvest Time Blues - September 5th to 7th - Monaghan Town
While the tractors will be rumbling, the small county town will have the blues. As in music, not as in depression settling in. The old Market House and a specially erected marquee are the centre of the whole happening, but the blues trail will wind its way through town.
More Information on their website - harvestblues.ie
Mountains to Sea DLR Book Festival - September 12th to 14th - Dún Laoghaire
A literary festival that will be the first major event for Dún Laoghaire's exciting new library and the recently built cultural centre. Near the seafront, so expect a fresh wind in many ways.
More Information on their website - mountainstosea.ie
Kinsale Arts Week - September 19th to 28th - Kinsale
The town many know for gourmet food first and foremost has transferred its arts festival to a new autumn slot. Expect a mix of the eclectic and the more traditional. Plus food. And theatre.
More Information on their website - kinsaleartsfestival.com
National Ploughing Championships - September 23rd to 25th - Ratheniska
Pack your wellies if you are heading for this agricultural event in County Laois ... but expect more than tractors, ploughs and culchies, Like sheepdog trials ... but also craft demonstrations, good (and mostly traditional) food and exhibitions ranging from amateur art to livestock keeping ...
More Information on their website - npa.ie
Dublin Theatre Festival - September 25th to October 12th - Dublin
Fivehundred or more performances, more than twenty venues, all the world's truly a stage in Dublin around this time. Still going strong in its 55th incarnation and offering more of the usual - a mix of old favourites and new stuff.
More Information on their website - dublintheatrefestival.com
Clifden Arts Week - September 19th to 29th - Clifden
The community arts week of the remote Connemara town involves readings, music, recitals, theatre and comedy - plus the stunning landscape around the town.
More Information on their website - clifdenartsweek.ie
Culture Night - September 21st - Dublin
Late-night (well, sort of) openings with free entry - more than a hundred Dublin venues are participating, with many hosting family events. Leaving me, as ever, wondering why this can happen only once a year ...
More Information on their website - culturenight.ie
New Ross Piano Festival - September 25th to 28th - New Ross
Piano and wind repertoire will be the highlight in 2014, the Cassiopeia Winds Quintet from Dublin plays and Mozart and Beethoven feature as composers.
More Information on their website - newrosspianofestival.com
Sligo Festival of Baroque Music - September 27th to 29th - Sligo
Programme to be confirmed.
More Information on their website - sligobaroquefestival.com
October 2014 Festivals in Ireland
Cork Jazz Festival - October 24th to 26th - Cork City
Performing artists for 2014 to be yet confirmed. Nile Rodgers,
More Information on their website - guinnessjazzfestival.com
Sligo Live - October 22nd to 27th - Sligo
Traditional music and more - mixing in folk, roots and indie bands. Line-up for 2014 yet to be confirmed.
More Information on their website - sligolive.ie
Wexford Festival Opera - October 22nd to November 2nd - Wexford Town
This years' playlist is to include Salomé, Don Bucefalo and Silent Night - with additional recitals and also some short operas to be expected as well.
More Information on their website - wexfordopera.com
November 2014 Festivals in Ireland
Corona Cork Film Festival - November 8th to 16th - Cork City
Film and animation as usual, with the exact programme for 2014 yet to be confirmed.
More Information on their website - corkfilmfest.org
Sneem International Folklore and Storytelling Festival - November 8th to 10th - Sneem
Head for County Kerry if you want the seanchaí and their international colleagues to spin you a yarn ... which works best when night falls.
More Information on their website - sneemstorytellingfestival.com
December 2014 Festivals in Ireland
Other Voices - December 6th to 8th - Dingle
Music in Dingle, which is mercifully devoid of tourists at this time ogf the year ... a treat.
More Information on their website - othervoices.ie
Airtricity Dublin Docklands Festival - December 12th to 23rd - Dublin Docklands
This is Dublin's take on the Christmas market, with seasonal treats, a mock-Victorian funfair, choirs and a-cappella ensembles during the day and more modern fare at night.
More information on their website - dublindocklandschristmasfestival.ie