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Follow the Summer Festival Route

Follow the Summer Festival Route

Monday 09 July 2012

Roll up, Roll up, Ireland has become a Nation of Festivals!  Festivals are great for local areas, they not only bring a great verve and excitement, bonding and getting together of local communities, but they bring people in to spend money and keep the old Euro trundling around. What comes around goes around I always say so spend, spend, spend.   You could in fact have a really fun holiday moving around to different Festivals or just dipping in and out as you wish.


Kinsale Arts Festival runs until Sunday the 15th July.  Now in its 8th Year, what started off in a fairly simple form with art exhibitions and theatrical events and concerts, has mushroomed into a really serious complex and comprehensive Arts Festival with a broad spectrum which has something for everyone. It also incorporates lots of fun food events in a town so well known for its restaurants and food.  Guest Artistic Director, Gemma Tipton, says Kinsale Arts Festival 2012 is making “Virtue Out of Vice” as the Festival looks at the darker and lighter sides of life. Food Events include a murder mystery dinner at Ballinacurra, the country house that Michael Jackson made his Irish base, fishy workshops with Martin Shannahan from Fishy Fishy restaurant, plus a psychological dinner with ArtforEating – you may never look at food the same way again.  The main art exhibition “Virtue and Vice on and off the Walls” looks at the Festival themes through the eyes of our leading artists. Jackie Nickerson and Abigail O’Brien explore faith and the cardinal virtues, while Nevan Lahart squares up to 18th century maestro William Hogarth for a contemporary take on sin. The full programme includes, art, drama, screenings, installations, music, literature, free family events and workshops.  KAF is serious fun as well as being seriously arty.

Kenmare have joined the food festival circuit with a new Kenmare Food Carnival from July 13th to 15th.  They are adding a retro touch with an old style Carnival in the Square with a vintage carousel, helter skelter and swing boats – remember them way back!  Cillian Rogers will also be organising a Rio Irish style Carnival Parade through the town – with a foodie theme – so dig out your 40’s style pineapple turban and shimmy on down.  Kenmare Carnival too will have a Taste Kenmare trail offering signature bites from restaurants, cafes and bakeries, and an opportunity to meet the local producers, who will also be displaying their produce in Art Galleries so combining food and art.  Jack McCarthy will be there again with his boudins.  A Cookery Demonstration Theatre will feature seven cookery demos on Saturday and 6 on Sunday with well known chefs.   A Drinks Quarter will offer craft beer and cider tastings, whilst there will also be numerous whiskey and wine tastings and talks. Put your name down for the Silver Slipper Supper which will be a trip down memory lane for those who danced in the Silver Slipper Dance Hall during the 60’s and 70’s.  Lots of music and fun, Kenmare is a natural for this type of fun. 

Now don’t we all just love scallops!  If you do too, then the Valentia Island King Scallop Festival is the one for you without a doubt.  It is now in its third year, it is running on the 14th and 15th July, showcasing Valentia Island, just off the Ring of Kerry, as a holiday destination for families, and the unique locally sourced King Scallop.  Festival highlights this year include the launch of the festival on the Saturday with the Valentia Island Pipe Band led by Mr. King Scallop 2011, a Rugby Blitz at Cracow Park, on-street cooking demonstrations, a Junior Triathlon hosted by Valentia Island Triathlon Club at Knightstown, a Challenge Cricket match hosted by Valentia Island Cricket Club at Cracow Park, craft fair, angling competition, Blessing of the local fishing boats, live street mush and, of course, the crowning of this year’s Mr. King Scallop.

Over in Achill Island from the 19th-22nd July the family friendly Feile Bia Na Mara festival will be celebrating the maritime heritage of the Achill region and showcasing the rich harvest of fish, seafood and edible sea vegetables on offer from the Atlantic waters.  There will be a Gala Seafood Buffet, an ‘Achill’s Got Talent’ contest, a Cailin og and Buachaill og competition; seaweed safaris, numerous cookery demonstrations with high profile chefs, tastings, family sandcastle competition, fresh fish markets and much much more – apart from all of that Achill is an amazing experience in itself.

In Co. Clare the Doonbeg Seafood Festival will take place from the 20th – 22nd July. Events here will include a Funfair, Currach racing, a Duck race, and a Farmers Market.  Children can enjoy pony and trap rides, face painting, children’s activities and more, whilst parents can enjoy various cookery demos by chefs including Adrian Medvec, Wade Murphy, Aidan McManus and Hisashi Kumagai.

The ancient heritage village of Ardmore, Co. Waterford, is holding its Ardmore Pattern from the 27th – 29th July.  The tradition of the ‘Pattern’ of St. Declan, patron saint of Ardmore, goes back hundreds of years drawing people from far and wide on the 24th July each year to venerate at the Holy Well and reputed grave of St. Declan.  The aim of the Ardmore Pattern, which was revived in 2007, is to bring alive the old traditions whilst also organizing a fun filled festival to attract people to beautiful Ardmore – and it is beautiful.  There will be music, fun and food, in Ardmore that weekend including performances by Aslan, Franke Gavin and De Danann, and the Waterford Jazz Ensemble, do the Gypsi Swing.   Kevin Dundon will be cooking ‘Supper by the Sea’ in St. Declan’s Hall, on Thursday evening, 26th July, and they are hoping to have powerboating in the Bay as in previous years.

Cork Food Week is being launched this year running from the 27th July – 4th August, and is being held in conjunction with the Titanic 100 Festival.  It will kick off with the Titanic Ball in City Hall on the 27th July in aid of the Cope Foundation.  Tickets are €100 and includes Champagne and canapés, followed by a 5-course dinner, with various Cork restaurants catering for the event. The week will progress with food events intermingling with arts, fashion, and design, and showcasing the best of Cork.

Also from the 28th July to 5th August is the Carlow Garden Festival which covers everything from bulbs to borders, woodlands to wildlife.  There are some wonderful gardens to visit here and some really well known gardening folk taking part including Dermot O’Neill and Gerry Daly.  You can take a walk through the serene woodland trails of Rath Wood, experience the wonders of the birds of prey at Woodlands Falconry or treat yourself to the Chocolate Garden.  Two workshops with Frances MacDonald will offer expert advice. Another interesting event is a tour of the formal gardens at Huntington Castle with John McCullen, including the 17th century parterre, ornamental lakes and fish pond.
The 4th Drogheda Food Festival kicks off from the 10th – 12th August and promises a celebration of the fantastic produce of the North East, from oysters to smoked salmon, cheeses and breads, honey and jams.  The restaurants and cafes will have special festival menus offering local food cooked with passion and pride.  The markets will be filled with food and produce from the area and there will be cookery demos to show you how to use the fresh produce in an imaginative and economic way.

From the 24th – 26th August  you can head off to Donegal for their 3 day Taste of Donegal Food Festival.  This is their 4th event, which attracted over 28,000 people last year.  It will be a celebration of great food, drink and lifestyle products with celebrity chef appearances, tutored wine classes by wine experts, food and drink exhibitors with tastings, music and much more.    

This is but a snapshot of some of the many festivals around the country up to the end of August – and then we will be ready for the Autumn Food Festivals – but more of that anon.  Get the wheels moving and go and enjoy.