1. Rose of Tralee
The pinnacle of Irish festivals is the International Rose of Tralee pageant, held in Co. Kerry every August. Women from all across Ireland and further afield battle it out to be crowned the Rose of Tralee. The criteria? You need to be Irish (or of Irish extraction), unmarried and be no older than 28. Also, it helps to have a talent to share with the audience after your chat with host Daithí Ó Sé.
See RoseOfTralee.ie for further details
2. Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival
For generations, this kooky festival has being making love matches. Now in its landmark 160th year, the renowned Co. Clare festival has seen the beginnings of 3,000 marriages at its dances. With annual attendance in excess of 60,000 over the month of September each year, this age old idea is as popular as ever. Take that Tinder!
See MatchmakerIreland.com for further details
3. Puck Fair
Only in Ireland would you find a festival where a goat is crowned as King for three days before being returned to the wild. That is exactly what happens in Killorglin, Co. Kerry, where the festival takes place every August. The locals go up into the mountains to capture a wild male goat who is brought to the village and crowned King Puck. He is treated like royalty for the three days of the festival before eventually being returned to the wild.
See PuckFair.ie for further details
4. National Ploughing Championships
One for farming enthusiasts everywhere, Ireland’s National Ploughing Championships is in fact Europe’s largest outdoor exhibition – and one of the largest in the world. Along with stalls and exhibits, the highlight is the ploughing itself, when farmers take on their neighbours to find most skilful plougher in Ireland. The festival takes place in a different location every year and sees more than 200,000 attendees come through the gates. The biggest attendance ever was a massive 289,000 in 2014.
See NPA.ie for further details
5. Ted Fest
A more recent festival than the others, Ted Fest is a convention for fans of Father Teda. Now in its 12th year, a select few people who get their tickets early travel to Craggy Island (the island of Inishmore, off the coast of Galway) dressed as priests, nuns and housekeepers to pay tribute to one of the most popular TV comedy shows of all time. In more recent years, a small offshoot London Ted Fest has taken place in the London Irish Centre in Camden with its own Lovely Girls competition.
See TedFest.org for further details
6. Irish Redhead Convention
Every year in Cork, hundreds of redheads come out in force in the town of Crosshaven for a festival celebrating their vibrant red locks. Among the highlights of the festival are the crowing of the King and Queen of the Redheads – which is followed by a procession showing the royal couple off. There are also awards for things like the ‘most freckles per square inch of skin’. It’s all for a good cause too – since its inception in 2010, the Irish Redhead Convention has raised more than €20,000 for the Irish Cancer Society.
See RedheadConvention.com for further details