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St Patrick's Festival Fireworks

12 Top Irish Festivals to Bring Your Group to in 2018

Ireland offers some great opportunities for festivals to visit with your group, from the famous St. Patrick’s Festival to classy literature and music events and experimental arts festivals – we’ve got something for all tastes.

Here are our 12 favourites for both locals and tourists to visit this year:

  • 1 - Audi Dublin International Film Festival, 21st February – 4th March

    Audi International Film Festival


    The place to be if you’re a group of film fanatics! The Audi Dublin International Film Festival this month comes with a mix of local Irish films and international cinema outside of the mainstream’s scope. With silent films, shorts and documentaries supplementing the programme, there’s something here for every taste.

    Both International and Irish filmmakers, like the 2018 Animated Feature Film Oscar Nominee Nora Twomey, will be attending once again in 2018 and introduce their movies to the audience.

    Under the motto Hong Kong Season, five Chinese movies will also be shown this year.

  • 2 - St. Patrick’s Festival, 15th – 19th March

    Air acrobat on St Patrick's Day celebration


    The quintessential Irish holiday, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with parades all over the island and beloved by tourists. Celebrations will be held all over Ireland, from the major cities of Dublin, Cork and Galway to the smallest towns and villages. With theatre plays, live performances, funfairs and the city illuminated in green light, Ireland’s capital offers your group a large festival, spanning the whole weekend.

    A colourful parade will also weave its way through Dublin’s main streets – featuring top Irish street theatres, dancers and musicians. HOME is the theme for the 2018 edition of the Festival.

    St. Patrick’s Day is incredibly busy for the Irish tourism industry and when coming with a group, you need book well in advance – contact us now to secure your spot for St. Patrick’s Day 2019.

  • 3 - Limerick International Band Championship, 18th March

    Musicians playing the trumpet on a marching parade


    Marching band musicians from Ireland, Europe and America will once again gather in Limerick for the 48th International Band Championship this March. The event includes both a marching parade and a free concert for the nearly 50,000 people the event attracts to the city every year, which is followed by the actual prize ceremony with ten different awards including Most Entertaining Performance, Best Uniform and of course Best Musical Performance.

  • 4 - Cork International Choral Festival, 18th – 22nd April

    Choir performing at Corks City Hall


    Since 1954, Cork International Choral Festival has been welcoming choirs from all around the world. The program features a wide variety of performances, from school choirs to veteran performers, as well as both national and international competitions – a great experience for music groups!

    Cork City Hall serves as the event’s premier venue, offering some of Europe’s best acoustics. There are also smaller concerts all over the city - you’ll never know where some impromptu performances might pop up, so go out exploring!

  • 5 - Connemarathon, 22nd April

    Connemarathon Lough Inagh


    The Connemara International Marathon, or Connemarathon for short, takes athletes from all around the world through Connemara’s beautiful landscape. With three different tracks, there is something for amateurs and professional runners alike:


    • The 13,1 miles Half Marathon from Leeane to Maam Cross
    • The Full Marathon, starting at Lough Inagh and taking in the half route
    • The Ultra Marathon, a 39,3 miles circuit course starting and ending at Maam Cross


    The entry fee buys you transportation to and from the track, as well as plenty of water and support facilities along the route. If the great scenery and motivating atmosphere isn’t enough to convince you, you can also run for a charity of your choosing.

  • 6 – Fleadh Nua, Ennis, 20th – 28th May

    Locals & tourists hit the streets | Fleadh Nua Ennis


    Ennis, Co. Clare, has been hosting Fleadh Nua, one of Ireland’s biggest Irish culture festivals, since 1974. The event promotes local music, song and dance with workshops, a parade, street performances and of course concerts. With the great sights of the Wild Atlantic Way just around the corner, the trip to Ennis is worth it for every group enamoured with Irish culture.

  • 7 - Galway International Arts Festival, 16th – 29th July

    Parade At The Galway International Arts Festival


    July in Galway can only mean one thing - it’s Arts Festival season. Since 1978, the event has become one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, with many of its productions winning prizes in Europe, the USA and Australia.

    Cooperating with artists worldwide, the festival comes with an incredible choice of events to visit – more than 200 shows are already announced for 2018. From major concerts in the big top, to street performances, theatre, dance, visual arts, comedy, music and literature, the festival has something to offer for every taste and groups coming here will find a city packed with entertainment around every corner.

  • 8 - Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, 22nd – 24th September

    Oyster Opening Championships At Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival


    Being an island and all, Ireland has developed a cuisine quite heavily featuring seafood. This is celebrated at the Galway Oyster and Seafood Festival, which has since 1954 grown from a tiny local event into one of Ireland’s largest festivities.

    The programme includes the Oyster Opening Championships on both a national and international level, as well as street parades, seafood trails and of course lots of opportunities to taste everything you can fish from the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea and the River Shannon.

  • 9 - Dublin Fringe Festival 8th - 23rd September

    Abbey Theatre The Abbey Theatre Is One of Many Venues For Dublin Fringe Festival


    Open to both national and international participants, Dublin Fringe Festival is the Irish capital’s top gathering ground for aspiring artists of all crafts. Focusing on young actors, performers and other artists, the festival displays innovative productions at venues throughout the city over a sixteen-day period. In theatres and warehouses or outdoors, in shopping centres and in the streets of Dublin, the next generation of creators display their work.

    At Fringe Lab, the festival supports emerging Irish artists throughout the year with workshops, studio spaces and artistic training.

  • 10 - Cork Guinness Jazz Festival, 26th – 29th October

    Performance At Cork Guinness Jazz Festival


    Held every year since 1978, Cork Guinness Jazz Festival is Ireland’s largest jazz event and musicians and fans from all over the world flock to Cork to attend it. The festival includes both effortful concerts and impromptu street performances with more improvised elements. Last year’s programme included fantastic musicians, including 3 time Grammy Award Winner Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irish talent Imelda May and American trumpet player Nicholas Payton - 2018 is bound to be just as exciting!

  • 11 – Halloween Celebrations Derry, 28th - 31st October

    Drummers Parade At Halloween Celebrations Derry


    Bring your group and join the biggest Halloween party the island has to offer – it’s also the largest in all of Europe! Named the best Halloween destination in the world by USA Today in 2015 and included in the New York Times’ Top 6 Spooky Halloween Destinations in 2017, the 4-day festival turns Derry into a true horror hotspot. A must-see highlight is the great parade on the 31st, followed by a fireworks demonstration. Don’t forget to take pictures of all the fantastic costumes!

  • 12 - Dublin Book Festival 15th - 18th November

    The City Hall Decorated For Dublin Book Festival


    Irish authors, publishers and bookworms will gather in Dublin, a UNESCO City of Literature, for the annual Book Festival in November, to promote and support the Irish publishing sector. The programme consists of a variety of book launches, debates, readings, workshops, walking tours and more, where your group can see their favourite Irish authors and discover the next bestseller or previously missed classics. Special programmes for children and schools are also on offer.



With such variety, we’re sure there is a festival your group will be interested in visiting. Since the big events attract thousands of visitors, it’s important to book early – so contact Celtic Group Hostels now and start planning your group trip to Ireland and its festivals.

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