We’re already excited for all the Best Irish Maritime Festivals coming up in 2017. Now is the time to get planning for those exciting weekend trips around the country. We’ve made it nice and easy for you by getting together a list (in chronological order of course!) of the best Maritime festivals our island has to offer in 2017.
Keep an eye on this page as we’ll be keeping the list updated with all the latest dates and news
Best Irish Maritime Festivals 2017
1. Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival 26th May – 4th June 2017
First Maritime stop of the year is up to Antrim for one of the newest maritime festivals in Ireland. Only in it’s sixth year, this festival makes for a great start to the Maritime season. Located along the spectacular Causeway Coast and Glens, the festival is centred on Rathlin Sound, the body of water that lies between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle. There’s a Sailing Regatta and races as well as exciting have a go activities, craft markets, guided walks, exciting talks and tours, exhibitions and demonstrations, fun competitions, laid back lunches, friendly giants, curraghs and Viking ships. Start the season on the beautiful north east!
For more info: Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival
2. Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival 26th – 28th May
The Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival is a celebration of the traditional timber sailing boats of Ireland. Come celebrate the revival in traditional boat building and forge links with lovers of wooden boats from other areas and countries. Sailors and boat-lovers from near and far, you’re invited to join to Baltimore in May for a weekend of sailing, talking, learning and partying in true West Cork style!
Run in conjunction with Baltimore Seafood Weekend, on shore there will be the best of food and drink in the restaurants and bars. In the food tents lining the pier, West Cork’s finest fish smokers, cheese makers and organic gardeners will ply their exotic, world famous wares. Delicious!
For more info: Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival
3. Cork Harbour Festival 3rd – 10th June
The Maritime festival season continues in Cork with Ireland’s very own long-distance rowing race. Now in its twelfth year, the event embraces everything from traditional wooden working boats, currachs, skiffs, gigs and longboats to contemporary ocean racing shells, kayaks and canoes. With thousands of spectators each year, the race is a real flagship event for Cork Harbour. There’s always tons going on in Cork and this adds a great coastal flavour to the early Summer.
For more info: Cork Harbour Festival
4. Dublin Port Riverfest 2nd- 5th June
North Wall Quay plays host to the Dublin Port Riverfest. Organised by the Dublin Port Company and the Docklands Business Forum, expect a unique celebration along the historic quays with a jam packed programme of entertainment and family fun.
There’s a huge array of activities over the course of the weekend including kayaking sessions which will allow you see the visiting ships from a unique angle. Dublin Bay Cruises St. Bridget will offer three trips daily out into Dublin Bay and The Jeanie Johnson will once again be offering free tours over the course of the weekend.
For more info: Dublin Riverfest 2016
5. The Irish Maritime Festival, Drogheda Port, Louth 10th – 11th June
The Irish Maritime Festival is Ireland’s largest annual maritime festival. It takes place each summer on the quayside at Drogheda Port. This is truly the big daddy of the maritime festivals. This award-winning festival attracted over 40,000 visitors last year and continues to grow. Hosted by Louth County Council, Drogheda Port Company and Maxol, the Festival features loads of on the water action plus a Viking Village, an artisan food and craft beer zone, a fashion health and beauty zone and loads of family friendly activities for the kids. Kick back and enjoy the performances on their two live music stages, inc. Áine Cahill who took Glastonbury by storm last weekend.
For more information: Irish Maritime Festival
6. Rosses Point Shanty Festival, Sligo 16th -18th June
If you love good traditional seafaring music in a lively and fun atmosphere, this is the one for you! Rosses point with its rich maritime history will be hosting the International Sea Shanty festival for the Seventh year and it’s going stronger than ever. There will be an exciting range of musicians and bands singing a range of shantys from home and abroad. The festival is run entirely on a voluntary basis and it also promotes the work of the RNLI. For the whole family and for a good cause!
For more info : Rossespointshanty.com
7. Fastnet Maritime and Folk Fest Ballydehob, Cork 16th- 18th June
Who can resist beautiful West Cork? And who needs a great excuse to go during the Summer? Well the Fastnet Maritime and Folk Festival takes place in the picturesque village of Ballydehob, West Cork and it’s just the ticket! There’ll be sea songs and shanties, a craft market and even a sea song writing competition. They put up main stage at Ballydehob Community Hall and there’s also music in the pubs. Most events are free so your next step should really be a quick google of ‘B&B Ballydehob’.
For more info: Fastnetmaritime.com
8. Portaferry Sails & Sounds – Classic Boat & Music Festival, Co. Down 22nd- 25th June
Portaferry Sails & Sounds is set to be a big attraction this year with a sizeable fleet of traditional sailing craft racing on Strangford Lough, Skiff racing by the ‘St Ayles Skiffs’; a farmer’s market, street theatre along Portaferry Shore Street, Arts and Craft stalls along Shore Street, a classic car and motorcycle exhibit, RNLI open day and displays. In conjunction with the sailing festival, there’s set to be a music festival throughout the whole town, Irish Dancing, a busking competition and various other musical themes running all weekend. If you can remember ‘The Portaferry Hooker Regatta’ which peaked in the 1990’s, they aim to bring back the scale, spirit and presence of that regatta.
For more info: Portaferry Sails & Sounds
9. Wexford Maritime Festival 30th June – 2nd July
The last weekend in June really is a bumper one with three maritime festivals vying for your attention. The Wexford Maritime Festival is typically a jam packed affair with Maritime and Children’s activities as well as there being other entertainment, food stalls and exhibitors. The Wexford Festival was established in 2012 to honour the memory of the founder the US Navy Commodore John Barry in his hometown of Wexford – known in the U.S. as ‘Father of the American Navy.
For more info: Wexford Maritime Festival
10. SeaFest 2017, Galway 30th June – 2nd July
SeaFest, Ireland’s national maritime festival, took place in Cork Harbour on Saturday in 2015 and moves to Galway for 2016. This festival looks to celebrate Ireland’s incredible ocean wealth by showcasing our abundant maritime resources. Last year’s programme included a seafood fair, seafood cookery demonstrations with celebrity chefs and seafaring family fun, tours of the Irish Naval ships, leisure craft and boats, the Lee Swim, exhibits on marine life and all manner of festival entertainment for every age group. Expect this years in Galway to be even better!
For more info: Seafest
11. Foyle Maritime Festival, Derry/Londonderry 9th -17th July
For the Foyle Maritime Festival, Queens Quay is transformed into a maritime wonderland full of fun, activities, music, arts and crafts. The festival will host the stopover of the Clipper Race 2015-16 as they near the end of their Round the World Journey. Prepare to welcome Team Derry~Londonderry for a special homecoming party! Expect water athletes displays, pirate style treasure hunt throughout the city, concerts, the Walled City Market and the Continental Food Market. This will be great craic!.
For more info: Foyle Maritime Festival.com
12. Skiffie Worlds & Strangford Lough Festival, Down July (exact dates not confirmed)
With over 50 teams entered from around the world as part of the Skiffie Worlds, this years Skiffie Worlds & Strangford Lough Festival promises to be the best to date. Join the global maritime community for this festival of boating and maritime heritage and see the colourful boat races with beautiful coastal rowing Skiffs from all over the world. There’ll be tall ships, an artesian food fair, music and craic.
For more info: Strangfordlough.org
13. The Red Sails Festival, Portstewart, Derry/Londonderry 23rd – 29th July 2017
In the picturesque seaside town of Portstewart, a festival that has grown so much since it’s inception in the early 70’s. After many years known as the Carnival, the name was changed to the Red Sails Festival in 2000 to commemorate the famous lyrics written by Jimmy Kennedy in the song ‘Red Sails in the Sunset’, which was penned overlooking Portstewart Bay. Expect music, drama, Irish and Scottish dancing, art, cheerleading and fancy dress. There are lots of competitions and challenges for the whole family and a firework display finale.
For more information: Red Sails
14. Arklow Maritime Festival, Wicklow July (exact dates not confirmed)
Arklow has a rich Maritime tradition and along with having an excellent Maritime museum at the Bridgewater centre it also has a great Maritime festival. The Arklow maritime festival presents a great range of events for the whole family down by the Quay; from Viking boat races and bouncy castles to BBQ’s and live music. This is a great event brings out the best of a place with such a deep maritime tradition.
For more information: Arklowmaritimefestival.com
15. Greencastle Regatta, Donegal 10th – 13th August
Greencastle Regatta is one of the longest running Maritime Festivals in Ireland, and its four days of fun packed festivities celebrating maritime heritage along the Foyle. There will be activities for all ages on the shore and on the water, plus live music each evening on the main stage with some of Ireland’s biggest headliners. If it’s anything like last year expect the full itinerary to include Kayak lessons, Kids treasure hunt, Fun Fair, Fisherman’s games, local artists, Pet show, a Darts competition, annual blessing of the fleet, Dance sessions and much more. Come along and enjoy the Ceol agus Craic!
For more info: Greencastle Regatta
16. Cruinniú na mBád / Galway Hooker Festival 19th – 20th August
This one’s a bit special, and you get to finish out the Summer in Galway.
Before gas and electricity came to Kinvara turf was the main fuel used for cooking and heating. The majestic Galway Hookers sailed between Connemara and Kinvara laden with this fuel as the Kinvara area has no bogs. Kinvara in turn filled the hookers with grain and produce for their return journey. A strong trade developed between the two regions using these great old cargo boats. Founded by Tony Moylan in 1979 as a celebration of the traditional commerce that existed between the coasts.
In August at Kinvara you can see the mighty Hookers in action once again. There’s lots of other types of craft sailing and competing with each other and another highlight of Cruinniú na mBád, Kinvara is the Climin. A Climín is a ‘raft’ made from seaweed blocked and tied for transportation to a collection point on the shore. Seaweed harvesting was once a thriving industry along the west coast of Ireland, including Kinvara.
For more info: Cruinniunambad.com
17. Tramore Maritime Festival September (exact dates not confirmed)
The Tramore Maritime Festival is a new festival this year showcasing the best local businesses and the community. The festival further develops both recent and traditional celebration of “Michaelmas” and “Molly the seaweed doll” that Tramore has celebrated in recent years and in times gone by.The festival takes place on the 23rd – 25th of September at the Coast Guard station in Tramore. There will be plenty of family fun, music, maritime heritage talks, art exhibitions and sea rescue demonstrations.
For more info: Tramore Maritime Festival
18. Connemara Sea Week 22nd – 30th October
Conamara Sea Week is a celebration of the rich Marine Heritage of the region. The multi-disciplinary festival takes place over two weekends blending of a sense of myth, magic and madness into a unique festival for the whole family. This festival has been running for over 3o years and highlights include music workshops, art exhibitions, walks, talks and wonderful ‘After the Light’ parade.
If you think we’ve left out your favourite festival or have anything to add, get in touch!
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