7 Festivals you will only find on Slí an Atlantaigh Fhiáin – the Wild Atlantic Way
From crowning a goat king, to finding romance in Co. Clare; Slí an Atlantaigh Fhiáin – the Wild Atlantic Way serves as a spectacular backdrop to a whole host of quirky festivals all the year round, each celebrating the local heritage and culture of the rugged Irish west coast. Come join the fun and experience it for yourself!
A Pirate’s Life
First up, it’s a rather swashbuckling affair; the Baltimore Pirate Festival in Co. Cork. This remarkable June event marks the real ‘Sack of Baltimore’, an attack on the area by over 200 Algerian pirates in 1631. During the festival, this charming seaside town is abuzz with maritime-related activity, with townspeople and visitors invited to dress up.
Each August, the historic village of Keash in rugged Co. Sligo plays host to Twin Fest; a one-day event celebrating twins, triplets and quads. It’s an opportunity for twins from round the world to make new friends, with monies raised going to a great cause (ACT For Meningitis). Organisers opted to hold it in Sligo the county Irish poet WB Yeats dubbed ‘the land of heart’s desire’. History fans will be excited to hear that Keash was the birthplace of Ireland’s most famous king, Cormac McAirt, who reigned sometime between the 2nd and 4th centuries.
All Things Ted
Fans of the Irish cult TV series Father Ted should make their way to Inis Mór island, where Tedfest takes place each February. Inis Mór is the largest of the three Aran Islands, which lie off Galway Bay. With a total of just 1,200 inhabitants, these stunning islands are worth a visit the year round; explore their rugged terrain by day and enjoy a pint in one of their cosy pubs when the sun sets. Against this beautiful backdrop, Tedfest pay homage to all things Ted; there’s a Priests’ Sports Day, Lovely Girls Competition and of course, lots of tea!
Seafood in September
The Galway International Oyster Festival is a three-day event in September dedicated to the fantastic seafood this stunning region has to offer. There’ll be foodie talks and tastings taking place all around the town, an Oyster Eating Competition, as well as some amazing music events in the festival marquee. Reckon you’ve got a knack for shucking (opening oysters)? Be sure to catch the World Oyster Opening Championship, which takes place during the course of the festival.
All Hail the Goat
At 400 years old, Puck Fair in Killorglin, Co. Kerry is Ireland’s oldest festival, and certainly one of its most beloved. Every August, locals crown a wild mountain goat king of the town… yes, you read that right! It’s thought that the celebration dates back to pre-Christian rites of harvest and fertility. However, the crowning element was added as homage to a plucky goat who, back in the 17th century, broke free from his herd and made his way to Killorglin, warning inhabitants of the approaching Crowellian army. Today’s festival is a time of celebration, with parades, street art, music and entertainment taking place over the course of three days.
Looking for Love?
Singles need to mark this next one in their diaries, the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival in Co. Clare. Kicking off at the end of August, this is Europe’s largest singles event – and at 150 years old, probably the longest-running! Even if you’re not looking for romance, there’s plenty going on during the town’s five week festivities. The Outing then takes place in the town a week later. Following the same format, it’s a matchmaking event for the LGBT community, with the very fabulous drag queen Panti Bliss on hosting duties.
Sea & Surf
Finally, music and surfing come together in style every June at Sea Sessions. This laidback, summery festival is held in the popular seaside town of Bundoran, Co. Donegal; a world-renowned surfing area. Over the weekend, the town positively buzzes; catch the waves during the day on the sandy beach, then settle in at night for some fantastic live music performances. Marquees are set up against the backdrop of the wild Atlantic, adding to the unique atmosphere. Past performances include Kelis, The Dandy Warhols, Leftfield and Kaiser Chiefs.