A roundup of the major festivals and events going on around Ireland during April.
Depending on who you listen to, April is either the cruelest month, the hopeful start of spring, a joyous season of rebirth, or a depressing wet period that must be endured in order to have a beautiful, lush summer. It’s not co-incidental that April is also the month that festival season kicks into high gear after the doldrums of winter. People need entertainment, companionship, and a bit of craic. There’s an incredible wealth and diversity of high-profile events and festivals going on around the country in April — particularly around Easter weekend, as Easter Monday is always a public holiday.
These are 15 of the biggest and best festivals and special events in April 2014 that both visitors and locals can get involved with and enjoy, everything from a celebration of great literature, to outstanding traditional music, testing physical races, and gourmet culinary experiences. Enjoy!
Dublin City — Events throughout the month!
Modeled on the idea that if everyone reads the same book the whole community will be the richer for it, Dublin’s One City, One Book project has chosen If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin In Poetry & Song as its 2014 book. It’s an anthology of poetry and song lyrics, and a slew of great readings and sessions have been planned!
Maam Cross, Co. Galway – April 6, 2014
For long-distance runners, the Connemara International Marathon is an opportunity to run a marathon in some of the most unspoiled countryside in Ireland. The scenic beauty of the Connemara region is second to none, and runners can test themselves over half-, full-, and ultra-marathon courses. Families and spectators can simply enjoy the scenery and festival atmosphere while they wait for the runners to complete the course. Competitors should register online well in advance.
Phoenix Park, Dublin City – April 6, 2014
The Phoenix Park is one of the largest public parks in Europe, and runners of all abilities can compete a 10km races (in their different categories, of course). While the elite event attracts some of the world’s top athletes, including would-be Olympians, the rest of the event is aimed at casual runners and moderately fit people. It’s a great day out and a chance to explore the beautiful Phoenix Park from a whole new angle. Register online well in advance if you’d like to take part.
Galway, Co. Galway — April 8-13, 2014
Cuirt is the biggest and most prestigious of Ireland’s many, many literary festivals. This year’s program includes plays (The Merchant of Venice & Frank Pig Says Hello), author interviews and readings, open mics, and various workshops. Featured authors include the famous (including Sebastian Barry and Roddy Doyle) and the up-and-coming (Eimear McBride, Donal Ryan, Colin Barrett, and others).
Clifden, Co. Galway – April 10-13, 2014
Located in the heart of Connemara, the Clifden Traditional Music Festival is three days of the best in traditional music, song and dance, with performers coming from all parts of the country and across the diaspora. There are workshops for all levels of student, sessions, concerts, and a street festival. It is perhaps the premier traditional music festival in the country.
Dungarvan, Co. Waterford – April 10-13, 2014
Families and foodies will love the experience at the Waterford Festival of Food. Boasting everything from street vendors striving to introduce new tastes to Michelin-starred chefs creating one-off fine dining experiences, there’s something every everyone and every palette. There are also many classes offered for the culinarily curious. (Plus, it’s a chance to sample the famous Waterford Blaa!)
Nenagh, Co. Tipperary – April 13, 2014
The Nenagh.ie Cycling Classic is a top-level cycling race combined with a street festival to keep the spectators happy. There’s also a family fun race for younger competitors.
Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim — April 19-20, 2014
A one-of-a-kind festival for lovers and makers of electronic music, Phase One brings internationally famous electronica musicians and producers to perform in beautiful Carrick-on-Shannon over Easter weekend. The music is surrounded by a hive of activity with art installations and workshops happening around the town.
Carlingford, Co. Louth — April 19, 2014
Another race for the fittest and bravest, the Cooley Legends Half Marathon takes place on part of the Táin trail around Carlingford, Co. Louth. Competitors follow in the footsteps of legendary warriors, and the whole family can enjoy the festival atmosphere in scenic Carlingford.
Cork City — April 22-26, 2014
This year’s Cork World Book Festival brings Irish writers from around the country and diaspora together for five days of literary events. This year’s special guests include Nicola Kelby, Glenn Patterson, Anakana Schofield, and Mary Kenny.
Derry City — April 22-27, 2014
The Pan Celtic Festival features individuals and groups from the various Celtic nations competing with each other in song, dance, and traditional sports. It’s a unique festival dedicated to keeping the Celtic languages and traditions alive and thriving. The host city and timing of the festival varies from year to year; the 2014 festival will be hosted in Northern Ireland for the first time.
Howth, Co. Dublin — April 25-27, 2014
Another local food festival, this time celebrating the humble prawn, found in abundance in the Irish Sea. Prawns are technically a different species of crustacean than shrimp, but for all intents and purposes they are the same thing. The festival is about way more than prawns, however, with wine tastings, cookery classes, and gourmet meals aplenty.
Glendalough, Co. Wicklow — April 26, 2014
The Wicklow Adventure Race, or WAR, is a series of several triathlons held around Co. Wicklow during the year. The Glendalough WAR boasts one of the most scenic routes, but is still very challenging for the competitors. Competing is for the super fit only! However, the scenery is gorgeous! So, pack yourself a picnic, enjoy a hike to a good spot to watch proceedings, then enjoy the craic in the town afterwards.
Ennis, Co. Clare — April 27, 2014
A small, regional festival focusing on the art and science of growing things. Exhibitions, workshops, classes, demonstrations abound. It’s also a food fair, so there’s lots to occupy the rest of the family if only one member likes to garden.
Naas, Co. Kildare — April 29- May 3, 2014
Billed as the “grand finale” of the National Hunt season, the Punchestown festival sees top trainers and jockeys from both sides of the Irish sea competing for the final big prizes of the season. Racing is always a great day out, and this 5-day festival is full of thrills and excitement.
So, April is a month for fitness fanatics to prove their mettle on a variety of tough challenges, the literary set can stalk their favorite authors from festival to festival, and traditional music afficionados can enjoy the finest Ireland has to offer. Remember, wherever people are gathering is where you’ll find the craic!