2019 is set to be a HUGE year for maritime festivals across Ireland with a packed calendar of exciting festivals taking place, each doing their part to share the very best of Ireland’s coast in their own unique way.
Here’s our essential guide, listed in chronological order, to the best Irish maritime festivals in 2019. Some festivals have still to confirm their details and we’ll update as soon as they come through.
1. Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival, Co. Antrim
24th May to 2nd June 2019
Begin the maritime festival season up in Antrim. 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.
Festival details are still being finalised but if it’s anything like last year there will be 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 northeast!
2. Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival, Co. Cork
24th – 26th May 2019
Head to west beautiful West Cork for the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival, a celebration of the traditional timber sailing boats of Ireland. Join the celebration around the revival in traditional boat building and forge links with lovers of wooden boats from all over. Sailors and boat-lovers from near and far are 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.
3. Cork Harbour Festival
1st – 9th June 2019
The Cork Harbour Festival is growing from strength to strength each year and is now a firm favourite in Ireland’s festival calendar. The largest annual event in Cork Harbour offers a nine-day celebration of Cork’s maritime culture that features 60 events taking place in Cork City as well as in 15 harbour towns and villages.
There are a variety of events to dive into, from water activities to guided walks, open days to open sails, seafood market to seaweed foraging and so much more. Whether a visitor to the area or a native Corkonian, come and experience the spectacular fleet of boats taking part in Ocean to City – An Rás Mór from the many vantage points along the harbour.
4. SeaFest, Cork
7th – 9th June 2019
SeaFest, Ireland’s national maritime festival will be heading to the sunny southwest this year as Irelands biggest maritime festival returns to Cork Harbour in 2019.
The festival celebrates Ireland’s incredible ocean wealth by showcasing our abundant maritime resources and coastal life with a jam-packed line up of events and activities. The festival gets bigger every year and runs in conjunction with the Our Ocean Wealth conference. Last year’s programme included a seafood fair, seafood cookery demonstrations with celebrity chefs and seafaring family fun, tours of Ireland’s most important vessels, the incredible fly-boarders, exhibits on marine life and all manner of festival entertainment for every age group. Expect this year to be even better!
Visit the official SeaFest 2019 website here
5. The Irish Maritime Festival, Drogheda Port, Louth
June 2019 – dates to be confirmed
The Irish Maritime Festival takes place each summer on the quayside at Drogheda Port. This award-winning festival attracted over 40,000 visitors last year and continues to grow.
Last year there were a number of visiting tall ships, lots of excitement on and off the water, a Viking Village, an artisan food and craft beer zone, a fashion health and beauty zone, loads of family-friendly activities for the kids and some spectacular musical performances. Always a great weekend and definitely worth a visit with the family.
6. Rosses Point Shanty Festival, Sligo
14th – 16th June 2019
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 once again hosting the International Sea Shanty festival and it’s going stronger than ever.
There will be an exciting range of musicians and bands singing a range of shanties 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!
7. Fastnet Maritime and Folk Fest Ballydehob, Cork
14th -17th June 2019
The Fastnet Maritime and Folk Festival takes place in the picturesque village of Ballydehob, West Cork. There’ll be sea songs and shanties, a craft market and even a sea songwriting competition. They put up the main stage at Ballydehob Community Hall and there’s also music in the pubs.
8. Portaferry Sails & Sounds – Classic Boat & Music Festival, Co. Down
June/July 2019 – Dates to be confirmed
Portaferry Sails & Sounds is always a big attraction 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 a music festival throughout the whole town, Irish dancing, a busking competition and various other musical themes running all weekend.
9. Wexford Maritime Festival
29th – 30th June 2019
The Wexford Maritime Festival is always a fun-packed event 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.
Visit the official Wexford Maritime Festival here
10. Foyle Maritime Festival, Co. Derry
July 2019 – Dates to be confirmed
For the Foyle Maritime Festival, Queens Quay is transformed into a maritime wonderland full of fun, activities, music, arts and crafts.
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!
11. The Red Sails Festival, Portstewart, Co. Derry
July 22nd – 27th 2019
In the picturesque seaside town of Portstewart, a festival that has grown so much since it’s inception in the early ’70s. 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.
Visit the official Red Sails Festival website here
12. Arklow Maritime Festival, Wicklow
August 2019– 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.
13. Inishbofin Maritime Festival
August – Exact dates not confirmed 2019
No details as of yet for the Inishbofin Maritime Festival, but we sure hope it takes place again. Year on year, the festival been expanding on the successes of the recently rejuvenated Inishbofin Currach Regatta, extending the programme to include kayaking, paddle boarding and sailing dinghies.
14. Cleggan Claddaghduff Festival of the Sea, Co. Galway
9th – 11th August
A wonderful festival set in the seaside villages of Clegan and Claddaghduff located in beautiful Connemara. The week-long festival is a celebration of the sea with lots of family fun and events including treasure hunts, traditional music, nature walks, island trips seafood buffets and so much more.
Visit the official Claddaghduff Festival of the Sea website here
15. Greencastle Regatta, Donegal
9th – 11th August 2019
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!
16. Cruinniú na mBád / Galway Hooker Festival
9th – 11th August 2019
This one’s a bit special! 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 are 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.
17. Maritime Heritage Weekend, Rosses Point, Sligo
18th – 20th October
The Maritime Heritage Weekend is a series of illustrated talks in the traditional seafaring village of Rosses Point on the North West Coast of Ireland. With themes of a nautical and historical interest, visiting and local speakers bring stories of the sea and seafaring to new and established audiences. The talks take place over 3 days/evenings in October and since its 2016 inception, this unique event has attracted the highest calibre speakers from home and abroad.
The visitor numbers to the Maritime Heritage Weekend continue to grow and the organisers are looking forward to welcoming many returning and new visitors to Rosses Point in 2019.
18. Connemara Sea Week, Galway
October – Dates still to be confirmed for 2019
Conamara Sea Week is a celebration of the rich marine heritage of the Connemara region. The multi-faceted festival takes place over two weekends blending a sense of myth, magic and madness into a unique festival for the whole family. This festival has been running for over 30 years and highlights include music workshops, art exhibitions, walks, talks and wonderful ‘After the Light’ parade.
Visit the official Connemara Sea Week website here
Got a festival update, spotted a mistake or you know an event that should be listed? Get in touch and we’re happy to add it to this free listing of maritime events! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org