Tourism Ireland has picked the top 10 quirky, unmissable festivals to check out. From Beatlemania in Dublin, to crowning a goat in Killorglin, the opportunities for exciting, alternative festivals are endless.
Puck Fair, Killorglin, 10th - 12th August
The Puck Fair is one of Ireland’s most unusual street festivals; where a wild mountain goat is crowned King of the town for three days and nights - it’s a ‘see it to believe it’ moment! At 400 years old, Puck Fair is one of Ireland’s oldest festivals; staging unique parades and ceremonies, providing free concerts, dance workshops, storytelling, fireworks, pet shows and puppet theatres – all part of the 36 hours of free entertainment.
The Big Grill, Herbert Park, Ballsbridge, 13th – 16th August
The Big Grill is not your average food festival. Dedicated solely to the art of cooking with fire and smoke, Ireland’s first international BBQ festival returns to Herbert Park for the second year running on 13th-16th August. The Big Grill was sold out on its debut year, and they have added more to the 2015 programme including some of the world’s best BBQ stars and pitmasters. Get involved in the first ever USA style ‘Low ‘N’ Slow’ BBQ competition or pull up your sleeves and compete in the chilli challenge – if you dare!
Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival, Waterville, 20th – 23rd August
Not just for Chaplin enthusiasts, this four-day festival is packed with activities for all ages throughout the days and evenings; from Laurel and Hardy exhibitions, vintage cars, animation and comedy workshops to discos and judged film competitions. There will even be an attempt to break the world record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Charlie Chaplin – bowler hat and moustache compulsory!
Ukulele Hooley 2015, Dun Laoghaire, 22nd – 23rd August
The world-renowned Ukulele Hooley in the seaside town of Dun Laoghaire is in its sixth year, and is one of Europe’s most popular ukulele festivals. Taking place on the 22nd and 23rd August 2015, talented ukulele players from around the world gather to stage musical performances – with workshops on offer for those keen to improve their ukulele prowess!
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, Lisdoonvarna 28th August – 4th October (includes The Outing; the world’s first LGBT matchmaking and music festival on 2nd – 4th October)
Steeped in history, the Matchmaking festival in Lisdoonvarna has been a tradition since 1887 when people flocked to the area during holiday seasons, and bachelor farmers would go in search of a wife. Over a century later, the annual festival has evolved into Europe’s largest singles event. Even for those not looking for their other half, thousands of people come for a good time, dancing from noon until the early hours of the morning. With the world’s first LGBT matchmaking festival, The Outing, also taking place at Lisdoonvarna, there are opportunities for all singletons to find the love of their life with no hard work or internet dating required!
Dalkey Lobster Fest, Dalkey, 28th – 30th August
Dalkey’s annual lobster festival tickles taste buds with delectable local lobster, and soothes ears with silky smooth jazz music. The festival, coming to Dalkey from 28th – 30th August, will kick off with renowned songwriter Phil Coulter taking to the stage while the crowd indulge in delicious seafood.
Bushmills Salmon and Whiskey Festival, Bushmills, 18th – 20th September
The fourth annual Bushmills Salmon and Whiskey Festival takes place this year, celebrating local culture, heritage and produce. Artisan stalls, street performers, and of course whiskey and salmon tastings take place at various sites in the area.
International Clown Festival, Downpatrick, 24th – 27th September
Ireland’s first ever International Clown Festival rolls up in Downpatrick from 24th – 27th September. Entertainment for all ages is included in the line up, with acrobats, stilt walkers, pantomimes, and clown shows all putting on performances over the four-day festival. All activities are free with street shows taking place all over town.
Dublin Beatles Festival, Dublin, 6th – 8th November
The three-day Dublin Beatles Festival celebrates the achievements of one of the biggest boy bands in history. For the third year running, Beatles fanatics can immerse themselves in all things Fab Four related; from reliving the best Beatles tunes to fun quizzes, art and memorabilia. Previous years’ festivals have attracted Beatles fans from all over the world and its popularity is guaranteed to continue growing!
The Bard of Armagh, Armagh - 20th November
The Festival of Humorous verse will bring non-stop laughter to Armagh for the 21st year running. Applicants can take part with a poem up to 650 words, before finalists are selected to compete with their creative, entertaining and engaging performances. All previous finals have been a sell-out, with 2015 promising to be an evening filled with talent and hilarity.