With a jam-packed itinerary for 2013, the Emerald Isle is the place to go for a holiday next year. So bite the bullet and call in sick to work for the year because with so many festivals and events in 2013, you won’t have time for anything else!
Without a doubt, the most widely anticipated event of the year is The Gathering 2013. Kicking off with a three-day street party on New Year’s Eve, this twelve-month extravaganza is going to be the biggest party Ireland has ever thrown. The initiative invites anyone with a connection (however tenuous) to come home and celebrate Irish culture. Primarily a grass-roots movement, many local communities are organising individual events throughout the country. The Kellys and Murphys are preparing for the mother of all family reunions and plans for an Obama re-visit are gaining momentum in Moneygall. If you are one of the seven people in the world who can’t claim Irish Ancestry, you can rest assured that you are still welcome!
But the Gathering is not the only event that is drawing visitors to these shores. In a country famed for throwing mighty hooleys, 2013 will see an unprecedented number of Irish festivals and events for visitors to enjoy. From the Bog Snorkelling Championships to the Matchmaking festival in Lisdoonvarna and the Festival of Fires on the sacred Hill of Tara, there really is something for everyone. With exciting and magical family-friendly shows for children of all ages, the Baboró International Arts Festival for Children is a must. Theatre, puppetry, storytelling, visual art and dance workshops are just some of the events on the autumn programme for 2013.
Ireland is awash (no pun intended) with music festivals which are loads of fun, from the hip Electric Picnic, to the even hipper Body and Soul. But if you’re not a fan of the welly brigade, then fear not. The Wexford Opera Festival, Cork Jazz Festival and Temple Bar Trad Fest offer refreshing alternatives. If you find yourself in the North-West in October, then you are in for a real treat. The wonderfully diverse Sligo Live has been quietly gathering momentum over the last few years. This exceptional festival showcases the very best of traditional, blues, and indie music and is an absolute must on any Irish festival calendar.
Derry folk really know how to throw a great party, as any visitor on Halloween night can testify. So it’s good to know that the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2013 is in their capable hands. Crossing the border for the first time in its sixty-year history, the Fleadh is, quite simply, the best traditional Irish music festival in the world and is a great way for overseas visitors to get an authentic taste of our musical heritage.
Bibliophiles rejoice! In May, thousands of Irish and international literary figures and will descend upon the charming village of Listowel to celebrate Writer’s Week. This year, the organisers will draw inspiration from The Gathering and focus on Irish writing abroad. With a multitude of workshops, guest lecturers, poetry recitals, literary walking tours, and competitions, there is simply no better way to bring literature to life.
Film lovers, take your pick of the best cinema has to offer at the Galway Film Fleadh, Cork Corona Film Festival, and Dublin Jameson International Film Festival. All three consistently produce interesting and eclectic programmes that showcase the best in Irish and international shorts, films and documentaries.
Finally, why not learn about Ireland’s unique heritage and history by participating in the many free events held during National Heritage Week. Due to take place in August 2013, this is a wonderful opportunity to visit some of the country’s historic houses, ancient monuments, and fortified castles. With a diverse range of activities, including night-time bat walks, poetry recitals and battle re-enactments, this is a great way to fully immerse yourself in Ireland’s unique heritage. Now all you need to do is find a hotel close to all the action, choose from a great range around the city centre.