Location: Dublin, Ireland
Date: 16 June
Level of participation: 2 - have some Ulysses quotations handy
In order to create the critical distance required to write about Dublin, the great Irish scribe James Joyce went into self-imposed exile. In contrast, the biggest decision Bloomsday’s Joyce-loving participants face is which pub to visit next.
The Joyce-fest takes place on the date when the writer took his future wife Nora on their first outing in 1904. This was also the day he chose to set his masterpiece, Ulysses. Bloomsday’s literary pilgrims make life reflect art by descending on the locations visited by the novel’s protagonist, Leopold Bloom. The tradition began in 1954, when some local writers commandeered horse-drawn cabs and attempted to visit all the locations in the modernist yarn.
Dressed in Edwardian costume, Joyceans from around the world stop at landmarks such as Davy Byrne’s pub, where they mimic Bloom and tuck into a gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of burgundy. Starting with a full Irish breakfast - another reference to the kidney-scoffing Bloom, not to mention a good fortification for all the ‘dark stuff’ to come - the day includes readings, performances and guided walks. Fanatics have held marathon readings of the 250,000-word novel, and the centenary celebrations in 2004 saw 10,000 people treated to an open-air full Irish breakfast.
Local attractions: the capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin, is brimming with beautiful Georgian architecture and inviting pubs.
More info: www.visitdublin.com
See other top festivals in June here.
This is an excerpt from Lonely Planet's A Year of Festivals.
This article was first published in December 2010 and was refreshed in April 2013.