Top 10 things to experience in Ireland in 2016

A couple explore the natural landscape as Glendalough

Discover the best new experiences in Ireland this new year!

From investigating the glorious heritage, architecture and lush green landscapes of Ireland’s Ancient East to letting your taste buds guide you at one of the many world-class Irish food festivals planned for next year, 2016 will offer an abundance of things to see and do.

Whether it’s pushing yourself to the limit on a uniquely Irish adventure race along the Wild Atlantic Way or whizzing along on our very own version of the Orient Express, the next 12 months might live long in your memory.

Friends eating food, couple exploring a ruin, a couple looking at the Atlantic Ocean


Reacquaint yourself with Kilmainham Kilmainham Gaol and Ireland's Ancient East countryside

Much of the focus of the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising will centre on Kilmainham Gaol, and its guided tours are among the best you’ll ever experience.

The area outside the gaol and the adjoining courthouse has been given an impressive makeover of late, and there’s so much else to explore in this corner of Dublin 8 including the landscaped grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham and the symmetrical beauty of the War Memorial Garden, a short walk away in Islandbridge.

Learn more about the history and stories of Kilmainham Gaol, the Royal Hospital Kilmainham and more.

Explore Ireland’s Ancient East

Get off the beaten track in Ireland’s Ancient East to explore lush green landscapes, dip into 5,000 years of history and hear stories from some of the best storytellers in the world.

Experience bustling towns and quaint villages, drive leafy roads through rolling valleys and explore meandering rivers and mountains that once sheltered our ancestors.

Soak up the stunning architecture of our great houses, magnificent castles and spiritual places and visit design centres showcasing unique art and crafts.



Food on a plate and two people eating oysters at a food festival in IrelandTake a fabulous food tour 

Ireland’s reputation for excellent restaurants and top-quality ingredients is enhanced every year, and our love of food is captured by the mushrooming guided food tours taking place across Ireland.

The Burren Food Trail takes in a host of artisan food experiences from the Burren Smokehouse and Hazel Mountain Chocolate to Linnane’s Lobster Bar.

While Dublin’s Tapas Trail offers a celebration of Spanish cooking in the south inner city.

Discover more food trails and fantastic dining experiences in Ireland.

Build up an appetite at a food festival

If the food trails above whet your appetite, why not plan a visit to one of the 50 or so food festivals planned for 2016?

Many are firmly established on the culinary calendar including the Clarinbridge Oyster Festival in Galway, while others are fast becoming an essential to-do for Irish gourmets, including the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival in the vibrant fishing village of Howth.

Find the latest food festivals happening across the country.


Couple looking at manuscripts in Waterford Museum and an image of Cliffs of MoherInvestigate a museum with a difference

Our long established museums are justly acclaimed, but there has been a proliferation of specialist museums of late that are ripe for investigation in 2016.

How about the Irish Rock ’N’ Roll Museum in Temple Bar Dublin, with its extensive Phil Lynott collection, marking the 30th anniversary of his death?

Or the Waterford Museum of Treasures in Waterford city, recently shortlisted for the European Museum of the Year award.

Discover the latest exhibitions happening around Ireland and spend a day exploring Irish history and heritage. 

Savour where sea meets land in the west

The Wild Atlantic Way has fired the imagination of many of us since its launch in 2014, and with 2,500 km of roadways, there is so much to see.

Explore the magnificence of the Sligo coastline, especially the unspoilt surrounds of Mullaghmore, and drive into Donegal where the majestic Malin Head captures a life shaped by the magnificent Atlantic. 

Discover more about Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way and plan your trip around the west coast today.


Crowds gathered at Electric Picnic and people running in the Killarney Adventure raceCatch the thrills of music in the great outdoors

Ireland punches well above its weight when it comes to music festivals, with Electric Picnic long established as one of Europe’s best and the more recently created Longitude, in Dublin’s Marlay Park, fast becoming a favourite.

Next year will see the return of such popular boutique festivals as Body & Soul at Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath, and Indiependence at Deer Farm, Mitchelstown, Co Cork.

Feel the beat and ind out more about the upcoming music festivals in 2016.



Experience the thrills of an adventure race

Take on the challenge of Achill ROAR—the high adrenaline race featuring off-road running, cycling and either kayaking or cycling—the choice is yours.

It will take place on our largest island in September and offers three levels of competition, depending on your fitness level.

The following month will see one of our premier adventure events, the Killarney Adventure Race, test the mettle of amateur athletes in the stunning surrounds of Killarney National Park.

Discover more exciting activities happening in 2016 and plan out your next adventure.

Belmond Grand Hibernian train cabin and a man reading books in DublinTake an unforgettable train journey

Luxury train travel in Ireland will become a reality in 2016 with the launch of Belmond Grand Hibernian.

From the people who operate the world-famous Orient Express, this exquisite train service will arrive here in August and will feature on-board accommodation inspired by Dublin’s Georgian architecture, the finest of Irish food and itineraries involving all major cities.


Let fiction inspire your Irish travels

Dublin’s One City One Book initiative has been running for more than a decade and aims to celebrate a work of fiction indelibly linked with the city.

Lia Mills’ 1916-set novel 'Fallen' is the choice for next year, and can help you see the city differently.

Let Colm Tóibín’s 'Nora Webster' and Sarah McInerney’s 'The Glorious Heresies' inspire you to see, respectively, Enniscorthy and Cork City, with fresh eyes.

Read up on all the latest Irish book festivals and lose yourself in a literary world.

Find Discover Ireland on Facebook or check out #thisisLIVING for lots more more great ideas about things to do in 2016.