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12 speciality festivals to check out this year
Back in full swing, Ireland’s summer festival season opens up the country in intriguing ways. Celebrating words, music, art, architecture and more, if there’s something that takes your fancy, chances are you’ll find a festival for it.

Here are 12 unique festivals that will intrigue and delight this season.

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1Rory Gallagher International Festival, County Donegal

From pub sessions to street sessions to big concerts, Rory Gallagher fans come to his birthplace of Ballyshannon to celebrate the Rory Gallagher Festival. The legendary guitarist – who influenced the likes of The Edge, Brian May and Eric Clapton – collaborated with other musical giants, including Muddy Waters and Jerry Lee Lewis. Established in 2002, the festival attracts Gallagher aficionados and lovers of rock legends in general.

Best for: Adults. Mixture of free and ticketed events.
Various venues, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, June 2-5.
Rory Gallagher Festival

Street scene in Ballyshannon, County Donegal - featuring a statue of native son Rory Gallagher.
Celebrate native son and guitar hero Rory Gallagher in Ballyshannon, County Donegal.
2Body & Soul, County Westmeath

Set in the beautiful grounds of Ballinlough Castle, Body & Soul is a boutique arts and music festival, where you’re just as likely to spend your time lounging in a hot tub in a secret garden as you are to be stamping your feet to your favourite band. With twenty years under their belts, the festival is going back to their roots in 2022 with a smaller and more intimate affair. Find specially commissioned artworks in the woodlands, wellbeing workshops and gourmet food trucks aplenty. It’s family friendly, too.

Best for: Adults and families. Weekend camping tickets €80 - €280.
Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath, June 17-19.
Body & Soul

A colourful art installation in the woodland at Ballinlough Castle for the Body and Soul festival.

Photo credit: Body & Soul

Nourish your cultural side and find wellness in the woodlands at Body & Soul.
3Galway Film Fleadh, County Galway

The Irish word for a feast or celebration is fleadh, and Galway’s Film Fleadh is a banquet for film lovers. Championing the work of Irish filmmakers alongside their international counterparts, it’s the place to discover the newest, the boldest and the brightest from across generations and cultural backgrounds. You’ll also find talks and masterclasses and a novel pitching competition. You saw it here first.

Best for: Adults (the Junior Film Fleadh takes place during the winter months). Free street concerts, and ticketed events.
Various venues, Co Galway, July 5-10.
Galway Film Fleadh

View of the audience watching a film at the Pálás Cinema as part of the Galway Film Fleadh, Galway City.
Celebrate film with a cinematic feast at the Galway Film Fleadh.
4Festival of Curiosity, County Dublin

After ten years exploring the experimental, Dublin’s Festival of Curiosity takes place across the city this July. A playground for ideas – and the curious of all ages – provides a chance to dive into new worlds of science, art, design and technology. Expect recipe sessions and concerts, music for babies and big ideas with the Future+ summit. The kids’ programme is always lively and inspiring, but you don’t have to be a child to become wide-eyed with wonder.

Best for: Adults and families. Mixture of free and ticketed events.
Various venues, Dublin, July.
Festival of Curiosity

5Spraoi International Street Arts Festival, County Waterford

Bringing it all outside for 40 years, Spraoi International Street Arts Festival invites artists from around the world to strut their stuff in Waterford City, where the narrow streets, medieval buildings and little squares provide the perfect backdrop for bold street art. Spraoi translates from Irish to mean fun and exuberance, and you’ll get that in spades here over the bank holiday weekend. The whole city gets involved, with entertainment and music throughout Waterford culminating in a firework finale. Look out for Waterford Walls, putting street art up on gable ends everywhere (the Waterford Walls Festival itself runs August 12-21).

Best for: Adults and families. All events free.
Various venues, Waterford City, July 29-31.
Spraoi International Street Arts Festival

Three aerial performers dangling in rings at the Spraoi International Street Arts Festival in Waterford.

Photo credit: @circlecirque

Be uplifted by dazzling performances at the Spraoi International Street Arts Festival.
6Birr Vintage Week and Arts Festival, County Offaly

One of Ireland’s longest running festivals, 2022 will mark 54 years of the family-friendly Birr Vintage Week and Arts Festival that brings together theatre, music, street art, and community sessions. All that, plus vintage events including steam parades, donkey racing, and antique markets that are unique fun for the whole family. While you’re there, don’t forget to visit Birr Castle, with its award-winning gardens, and famous historic telescope – a vintage item itself!

Best for: Adults and families. Mixture of free and ticketed events.
Various venues, Birr, Co Offaly, July 29-August 7.
Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival

The Great Telescope at Birr Castle in Offaly.
Check out Birr Castle's Great Telescope at the family-friendly Birr Vintage Week and Arts Festival.
7Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, County Westmeath

The first Fleadh Cheoil took place back in 1951 in Mullingar, and since then the National Festival celebrating Irish traditional music has travelled the country, with counties vying for the honour of hosting. With half a million people flocking to the concerts and sessions each year, it’s quite a blast. Back in Mullingar for 2022 and dubbed The Homecoming, expect heroes of the form including Martin Hayes, Sharon Shannon and Séamus Begley, alongside fresh talent, theatre, street sessions and more.

Best for: Adults and families. Mixture of free and ticketed events.
Various venues, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, July 31-August 7.
Fleadh Cheoil

Listen to legends of traditional Irish music and spot up-and-comers at Fleadh Cheoil.
Listen to legends of traditional Irish music and spot up-and-comers at Fleadh Cheoil.
8Another Love Story, County Meath

The story of Ireland’s big houses has always involved welcoming visitors – Irish hospitality being legendary. These days, it’s just as likely to be for music festivals, where everyone can come together and soak up the amazing atmosphere. From Slane Castle to Stradbally with its Electric Picnic, some are larger than others. But for the beautifully niche, you can’t do better than Another Love Story at Killyon Manor, which keeps that gentle summer vibe going with stretch tents, mini gigs and more. Established in 2014, the manor house is open too, so you might well be getting down in the ballroom, or going large in the library. Lovely.

Best for: Adults. Tickets from €175.
Killyon Manor, Co Meath, August 19-21.
Another Love Story

Audience surrounding a lit stage at an evening performance - Another Love Story festival.
Fall for the relaxed big house vibe at Another Love Story.
9Listowel International Storytelling Festival, County Kerry

Famed the world over for our way with words, you could almost say storytelling is Ireland’s unofficial national sport. Spend an evening in Irish company, and one story tops another, as imaginations take hold. The Irish word for storyteller is seanchí, and you’ll find them aplenty at this year’s fourth instalment of the Listowel International Storytelling Festival that celebrates the tradition with an international flavour. Including family sessions, walks, talks, workshops, dancing, and a nice line in more grown-up tales.

Best for: Adults and families. Events are ticketed.
Various Venues, Listowel, Co Kerry, September 15-18.
Listowel International Storytelling Festival

Enjoy the art of storytelling at the Listowel International Storytelling Festival.
Enjoy the art of storytelling at the Listowel International Storytelling Festival.
10Dublin Theatre Festival, County Dublin

Coming hot on the heels of the Dublin Fringe Festival (September 10-25), the Dublin Theatre Festival showcases world class performances across the city’s great theatres and venues. From the Abbey to the Gate, with shows popping up in intriguing spaces, lanes and city squares, it’s a must see for theatre lovers everywhere. The programme focuses on introducing Irish theatre to the world stage and bringing international shows to Irish attention. Established in 1957, it’s Europe’s longest-running specialist theatre festival, but while there’s premieres aplenty, don’t expect it to be staid!

Best for: Adults,but look out for some family performances. Ticketed.
Various venues, Dublin, September 29-October 16.
Dublin Theatre Festival

Catch a performance at the Gate Theatre or other venues around the city for the Dublin Theatre Festival.
Catch a performance at the Gate Theatre or other venues around the city for the Dublin Theatre Festival.
11Kilkenny Animated, County Kilkenny

As summer comes to a close, the festivals keep on going. The medieval city of Kilkenny has an international reputation as an animation centre in large part thanks to the success of Cartoon Saloon, the studio behind Wolfwalkers and The Secret Book of Kells. Kilkenny Animated brings the spirit of the studio’s animation to the public in a whole new way. From screenings to talks, animation to illustration, comedy to dance, this festival has been pushing the boundaries of animation for the past four years.

Best for: Adults and families. Tickets from €175.
Various venues, Kilkenny City, September 30-October 2.
Kilkenny Animated

Audience at the Medieval Mile Museum in Kilkenny for the Kilkenny Animated festival.

Photo credit: @medievalmilemuseum

Enjoy some of the best modern animation in a medieval city at Kilkenny Animated.
12Open House Dublin, County Dublin

Who doesn’t like looking around other people’s houses? It’s even better when they’re fabulous works of architecture. Part of the international Open House collective of festivals, and organised in Dublin by the Irish Architecture Foundation, Open House Dublin lets you tour a range of private buildings, including Roe & Co Distillery, the Guinness Storehouse and the Abbey Theatre. Add walking tours with passionate guides, workshops and history sessions, and you’re guaranteed to see a whole new side to the city.

 Best for: Adults, but look out for some family events with Open House Junior. Free but ticketed.
Various venues, Dublin City and County, October 14-16.
Open House Dublin

Discover Ireland's fantastic festivals

Ireland’s calendar of festivals and other events is always full, so check out What’s On throughout the country to make sure you don’t miss out on the fun.

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