A Guide to the Smaller Festivals in Ireland This Summer

Summer Festival - Photo Credit Eva Rinaldi (Flickr)
Summer Festival - Photo Credit Eva Rinaldi (Flickr)

Summer festivals offer students a great escape from the stress and boredom of the college year. While the likes of Electric Picnic may be already high on a number of summer bucket lists, there is an array of fantastic festivals taking place around the country this summer. Some of these lesser-known festivals offer a great chance to experience something completely unique and fresh – while also being generous on your bank accounts.

The Sky Cat Laughs Comedy Festival

Ardal O'Hanlon performing - Photo Credit Edel Gribbin (flickr)
Ardal O’Hanlon performing – Photo Credit Edel Gribbin (flickr)

When: 28th May – 1st June 2015
Where: Various Venues Around Kilkenny
How Much: Around €25 per Gig

For anyone looking to laugh away the memories of the college year, this festival combines the top Irish and international talent in shows featuring renowned comic stars as well as newcomers and break-through acts. This year’s stellar line-up includes a wealth of Irish comedic talent such as Ardal O’Hanlon, Neil Delamare and David O’Doherty. International acts include Rich Hall, Jack Dee and Eight out of Ten CatsJon Richardson.
Organisers of the comedy festival have promised that this year will be bigger than ever with a special birthday bash gig opening the festival. There will also be a hoedown, physical comedy showcase and a tribute to past comedy legends. A special event taking place is the annual football match between the Irish Comedians and The Rest of the World. Every year thousands come to marvel at 22 comedians making a mockery of the beautiful game. The event is free of charge with special commentary on offer from comedian Karl Spain.

Taste of Dublin

Last years Taste of Dublin - Photo Credit  Paco & Lola (flickr)
Last years Taste of Dublin – Photo Credit Paco & Lola

When: 11th-14th June
Where: Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
How Much: Around €20 for a 4-hour Visit

The Taste of Dublin is the ultimate foodie destination for 4 days of summer eating, drinking and entertainment. For a few days the beautiful Iveagh Gardens are filled with stands from a wide-range of Dublin restaurants offering a diverse selection of food from around the world. Visitors are also treated to food and drink producer stands, masterclasses, chef demonstrations and live music to keep you entertained throughout the day. The Electrolux Taste Theatre will host live demonstrations from a selection of the world’s best chefs such as MasterChef’s Michel Rouz Jr, Monica Galetti and Ireland’s own Rachel Allen.
While the festival may not be as pricey as dining at one of Dublin’s high-end restaurants, a day at the festival isn’t cheap. While the food may edge on the costly side, there are enough complimentary tasters for the sneakiest student to enjoy a delicious meal free of charge. After a year surviving on pot noodles and take-away pizza, the Taste of Dublin offers students a chance to enjoy the finer food Dublin has to offer.

Holi Festival of Colours Dublin

The Amsterdam Holi Festival of Colours - Photo Credit  Luc Mercelis (flickr)
The Amsterdam Holi Festival of Colours – Photo Credit Luc Mercelis (flickr)

When: Saturday June 27th 12:00 pm
Where: Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
How Much: €35 for 1 Ticket, €42 for 1 Ticket and 5 Bags of Gulal Powder

The inaugural Holi Festival of Colours Dublin promises to be a pretty spectacular event. Derived from an ancient Hindu festival of love, this festival has quickly become one of the most anticipated events of the summer since its first outing in Germany in 2012. This promises to be one of the more fun activities on offer this summer with those attending painting themselves with various colours and throwing colourful powder in the air to express freedom and to colour their everyday lives. Known for its fun and inclusive atmosphere, the Holi Festival of Colours promises to be one of the most enjoyable days of the summer for those lucky enough to be in attendance.


Set in the beautiful surroundings of the Iveagh Gardens, just a five minute walk from Grafton Street, this promises to be a memorable outing for all those attending. From 3 pm onwards there is a countdown for throwing the colours in the air every hour with the likes of Bombay Boogie Soundsystem and Izzy Trixx providing the exact kind of music to dance too and have paint fights with friends and strangers alike. For those looking for a fun, unique and colourful day out, the Holi Festival of Colours Dublin is not to be missed.

Valentia Isle Festival

The Valentia Isle Festival offers a calmer alternative to this summers festivals - Photo Credit Ambiguous Fiddle (flickr)
The Valentia Isle Festival offers a calmer alternative to this summers festivals – Photo Credit Ambiguous Fiddle (flickr)

When: 10th – 12th July
Where: Valentia Island, Kerry
How Much: Adult Weekend Camping Ticket – €69

Set around the natural beauty of Valentia Island, the Valentia Isle Festival is Ireland’s premier arts & cultural boutique festival. Nominated for Irelands Best Small Festival in 2013, this year should prove to be the biggest in the festivals short existence. The festivals new theme combines culture, art, music & food through open air art exhibitions, organic food stalls, spoken word, poetry, live music & dance. Visitors can snack on their meals while taking in the quirky art on display. Hundreds of people get involved every year and help sculpt the site into a mystical wonderland full of fun and nonsense.
The festival also has a diverse music selection for everyone to enjoy. The inclusive music policy includes everything from fiddle and squeeze box to skanking dub so there is always something to suit the taste of every visitor. For those who want to take a quick break from the festival Valentia offers a wide variety of activities for every type of individual. Whether you enjoy swimming, diving, canoeing, sailing, kayaking, fishing, archaeology and historical sites, arts and crafts, even a pet farm, there is no shortage of activities for you to enjoy.

The stunning Charleville House looms over the Castlepalooza festival - Photo Credit Dubshotimage@gmail.com (flickr)
The stunning Charleville House looms over the Castlepalooza festival – Photo Credit Dubshotimage@gmail.com (flickr)

When: July 31st – August 2nd
Where: Charleville Castle, Offaly
How Much: 3 Days Including Camping – €89

Castlepalooza is an independent music festival, held at the spectacular location in the grounds of Charleville House, a 17th century castle. Known as a ‘Boutique Festival’ – tickets are limited to just 1500 – those attending have access to the inside of the castle, where there are art and film exhibitions and some surprise performances, and the small numbers make for a very friendly event. Although the main focus is on the music, in previous year other events have included fortune tellers, games, a cocktail bar, a comedy club, a circus workshop and burlesque shows.
A day spa offers a range of treatments to keep festival goers in good order over the weekend and very good food (as in completely the opposite of traditionalfestival food) is available on site. Offering you the chance the dance to over 70 acts playing throughout the weekend or just to wander around the wooded wonderland surrounding the castle, this festival is not to be missed by those looking for a unique and memorable weekend this summer.

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