Top Events

St Patrick's Day, March

Galway International Arts Festival, July

Willie Clancy Summer School, July

Féile An Phobail, August

All-Ireland Finals, September

February

Bad weather makes February the perfect month for indoor activities. Some museums launch new exhibits, and it's a good time to visit the major towns and cities.

Audi Dublin International Film Festival

Most of Dublin's cinemas participate in the capital's film festival, a two-week showcase for new films by Irish and international directors, which features local flicks, arty international films and advance releases of mainstream movies.

Six Nations Rugby

The Irish national rugby team (www.irishrugby.ie) plays its three home matches at the Aviva Stadium in the southern suburb of Ballsbridge. The season runs from February to April.

March

Spring is in the air, and the whole country is getting ready for arguably the world's most famous parade. Dublin's is the biggest, but every town in Ireland holds one.

St Patrick's Day

Ireland erupts into one giant celebration on 17 March (www.stpatricksday.ie), but Dublin throws a five-day party around the parade (attended by 600,000), with gigs and festivities that leave the city with a giant hangover.

April

The weather is getting better, the flowers are beginning to bloom and the festival season begins anew. Seasonal attractions start to open up around the middle of the month or at Easter.

Circuit of Ireland International Rally

Northern Ireland's most prestigious rally car race – known locally as the 'Circuit' (www.circuitofireland.net) – sees over 130 competitors throttle and turn through some 550km of Northern Ireland and parts of the Republic over two days at Easter.

Irish Grand National

Ireland loves horse racing, and the race that's loved the most is the Grand National, the showcase of the national hunt season that takes place at Fairyhouse in County Meath on Easter Monday.

World Irish Dancing Championships

There's far more to Irish dancing than Riverdance. Every April some 4500 competitors from all over the world gather to test their steps and skills against the very best. The location varies from year to year; see www.irishdancingorg.com.

May

The May Bank Holiday (on the first Monday) sees the first of the busy summer weekends as the Irish take to the roads to enjoy the budding good weather.

Cork International Choral Festival

One of Europe's premier choral festivals (www.corkchoral.ie), with the winners going on to the Fleischmann International Trophy Competition, is held over four days at the beginning of May.

North West 200

Ireland's most famous road race is also the country's biggest outdoor sporting event; 150,000-plus people line the triangular route to cheer on some of the biggest names in motorcycle racing. Held in mid-May.

Fleadh Nua

The third week of May sees the cream of the traditional music crop come to Ennis, County Clare, for one of the country's most important festivals.

Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival

Belfast's Cathedral Quarter hosts a multidisciplinary arts festival, including drama, music, poetry and street theatre over 10 days at the beginning of the month.

Listowel Writers' Week

Well-known writers engaged in readings, seminars and storytelling are the attraction at the country's premier festival (www.writersweek.ie) for bibliophiles, which runs over five days in the County Kerry town of Listowel at the end of the month. There's also poetry, music and drama.

June

The bank holiday at the beginning of the month sees the country spoilt for choice as to what to do. Weekend traffic gets busier as the weather gets better.

Cat Laughs Comedy Festival

Kilkenny gets very, very funny in early June (sometimes late May) with the country's premier comedy festival, which draws comedians both known and unknown from the four corners of the globe.

Dublin Pride

Ireland's most important LGBTQI celebration sees two weeks of events, gigs, screenings and talks that culminate in a huge colourful parade through the capital.

Ireland BikeFest Killarney

The country's largest gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts (www.irelandbikefest.com) takes place over the first weekend of the month in Killarney, where riders then do a loop along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Irish Derby

Wallets are packed and fancy hats donned for the best flat-race festival in the country (www.curragh.ie), run during the first week of the month.

Bloomsday

Edwardian dress and breakfast of 'the inner organs of beast and fowl' are but two of the elements of the Dublin festival celebrating 16 June, the day on which Joyce's Ulysses takes place; the real highlight is retracing Leopold Bloom's steps.

Mourne International Walking Festival

The last weekend of the month plays host to a walking festival (www.mournewalking.co.uk) in the Mourne Mountains of County Down, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Cork Midsummer Festival

Cork city's largest celebration of the arts (www.corkmidsummer.com) takes place over 10 days in mid-month at various venues throughout the city.

July

There isn't a weekend in the month that a major festival doesn't take place, while visitors to Galway will find that the city is in full swing for the entire month.

Willie Clancy Summer School

Inaugurated to celebrate the memory of a famed local piper, this exceptional festival of traditional music sees the world's best players show up for gigs, pub sessions and workshops over nine days in Miltown Malbay, County Clare.

Galway International Arts Festival

Music, drama and a host of artistic endeavours are on the menu at the most important arts festival in the country, which sees Galway go merriment mad for the last two weeks of the month.

Galway Film Fleadh

Irish and international releases make up the program at one of the country's premier film festivals, held in early July.

Longitude

A mini-Glastonbury in Dublin's Marlay Park, Longitude packs them in over three days in mid-July for a feast of EDM, nu-folk, rock and pop. In 2017 Stormzy, The Weeknd and Mumford & Sons were the headliners.

Killarney Summerfest

Killarney gets all folksy in early July for this festival (http://folkfestkillarney.com) featuring music, beards and flannel from all over Ireland and abroad, including performers from Britain, the USA and elsewhere.

August

Schools are closed, the sun is shining (or not!) and Ireland is in holiday mood. Seaside towns and tourist centres are at their busiest as the country looks to make the most of its time off.

Féile An Phobail

The name translates simply as the 'people's festival' and it is just that: Europe's largest community arts festival takes place on the Falls Rd in West Belfast over 10 days.

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann

The mother of all Irish music festivals (www.fleadhcheoil.ie), held at the end of the month, attracts in excess of 400,000 music-lovers and revellers to whichever town is playing host (for the last couple of years it's been Ennis, County Clare) – there's some great music amid the drinking.

Galway Race Week

The biggest horse-racing festival west of the Shannon is not just about the horses; it's also a celebration of Irish culture, sporting gambles and elaborate hats.

Mary From Dungloe Festival

Ireland's second-most important beauty pageant takes place in Dungloe, County Donegal, at the beginning of the month – although it's an excuse for a giant party, the young women really do want to be crowned the year's 'Mary'.

Puck Fair

Ireland's oldest festival is also its quirkiest: crown a goat king and celebrate for three days. Strange idea, but a brilliant festival that takes place in Killorglin, County Kerry in mid-August.

Rose of Tralee

The country's biggest beauty pageant divides critics between those who see it as an embarrassing throwback to older days and those who see it as a throwback to older days. Wannabe Roses plucked from Irish communities throughout the world compete for the ultimate prize.

Kilkenny Arts Festival

One of Ireland's most important arts festivals brings musicians, artists, performers and writers to a variety of sites across Kilkenny city, including churches, castles, courtyards, townhouses and gardens. The 10-day event takes place in the middle of the month.

September

Summer may be over, but September weather can be surprisingly good, so it's often the ideal time to enjoy the last vestiges of the sun as the crowds dwindle.

Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival

Over the last weekend of the month Galway kicks off its oyster season with a festival celebrating the local catch. Music and beer have been the accompaniment since its inception in 1953.

Dublin Fringe Festival

Upwards of 100 different performances take the stage, the street, the bar and the car in the fringe festival that is unquestionably more innovative than the main theatre festival that follows it.

All-Ireland Finals

The second and fourth Sundays of the month see the finals of the hurling and Gaelic football championships respectively, with 80,000-plus crowds thronging into Dublin's Croke Park for the biggest sporting days of the year.

October

The weather starts to turn cold, so it's time to move the fun indoors again. The calendar is still packed with activities and distractions, especially over the last weekend of the month.

Dublin Theatre Festival

The most prestigious theatre festival in the country sees new work and new versions of old work staged in theatres and venues throughout the capital.

Wexford Opera Festival

Opera fans gather in the Wexford Opera House, the country's only theatre built for opera, to enjoy Ireland's premier lyric festival, which tends to eschew the big hits in favour of lesser-known works.

Cork Jazz Festival

Ireland's best-known jazz festival sees Cork taken over by more than a thousand musicians and their multitude of fans during the last weekend of the month – even if some of the music sounds suspiciously like blues and rock.

Belfast International Arts Festival

Northern Ireland's top arts festival attracts performers from all over the world for the second half of the month; on offer is everything from visual arts to dance.

December

Christmas dominates the calendar as the country prepares for the feast with frenzied shopping and after-work drinks with friends and family arrived home from abroad. On Christmas Day nothing is open.

Christmas

This is a quiet affair in the countryside, though on 26 December (St Stephen's Day) the ancient custom of Wren Boys is re-enacted, most notably in Dingle, County Kerry, when groups of children dress up and go about singing hymns.

Christmas Dip

A traditional Christmas Day swim at the Forty Foot in the Dublin suburb of Sandycove sees a group of very brave swimmers go for a 20m swim to the rocks and back.