6 October-7 November: Belfast International Arts Festival
If you have been craving live music, theatre, dance and arts, the Belfast International Arts Festival will be the place to be this autumn. The festival promises to delight with events such as Glen Hansard, The Ulster Orchestra and Cara Dillon in concert. In the area of theatre, the festival will bring awareness to environmental issues with the Irish Premiere of ‘Sea Sick’ by Alanna Mitchell. Other timely topics include a portrayal of living under lockdown by Roddy Doyle. Whatever your creative mind is craving to see, the Belfast International Arts Festival probably has something in store for you. Find out more at belfastinternationalartsfestival.com.
22 October: Fabulous Filly’s Charity Auction Night, Co Carlow
Get ready to dine, dance, bid, chat and have the craic at Ballykealy House, Co Carlow, all in aid of the National Breast Cancer Research Institute. The event is hosted by Ciara Stanley of Ardattin Embroidery and Claire Power of Ballybar Ireland. Tickets include a three-course meal, drinks on arrival and a gift bag with local Irish goodies. Entertainment of the night will be provided by local Carlow man Kieran Brennan and the highlight of the event is an auction with prizes of hotel stays away, Irish whiskey and premium Irish beef hampers, to name a few. Get tickets at www.ballybarireland.com.
8-10 October: Ballyhoura Walking Festival
Get your hiking boots out for the 25th Ballyhoura Walking Festival in Kilfinane, Co Limerick. There is an outdoor adventure for every ability, age or mood. Family activities include a 40-minute scavenger hunt through the woods that challenges kids (and adults) to find over 20 hidden creatures. From a stunning sunrise walk to Seefin (the highest point of the Ballyhoura Mountains) to a moonlight walk, you have ample opportunity to explore the area. If you want to know more about the flora and fauna or heritage of the Ballyhoura Mountains, you are in luck because many walks will be led by knowledgeable members of the Ballyhoura Bears Walking Club. For more information see www.visitballyhoura.com
19-25 October: Galway Comedy Festival
They say laughter is the best medicine, so why not get your fix of belly-laughs at this year’s Galway Comedy Festival? With over 80 comedians and 45 shows over seven days, there should be plenty of opportunity! Artists include Steve Hughes, Glenn Wool, Enya Martin, Jason Byrne and many more. Other events include ‘Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience’, a drive into history on Open Top City Bus Tours and an Irish debut of the TRIGGERnometry Podcast. End the night with ‘The Dirty Circus late and loose’ in The Loft @ Seven or join ‘Late Night KARLnival’ in Róisín Dubh hosted by Karl Spain. For more information see www.GalwayComedyFestival.ie.
HIKE Croagh Patrick. The famous 765m pilgrimage mountain in Co Mayo is well-known to many. Although the main pilgrimage day is on the last Sunday in July, you don’t need to wait another year or even be particularly interested in the concept of pilgrimage to enjoy the breath-taking views of the Atlantic, the rugged hills and tiny dots of islands when you get to the top. The hike is about 7km long and takes two to four hours. The last stretch is pretty steep, so hiking boots and walking sticks would make it easier. You’ll know that you’ve reached the peak when you almost get knocked over by a gust of wind.
CYCLE the Waterford Greenway. The Waterford Greenway lies along the old railway line from Waterford City to Dungarvan. It’s a 46km off-road cycling and walking trail which takes in 11 bridges, three viaducts and a tunnel, all the way from the River Suir to Dungarvan Bay. With numerous points where you can get on and off the greenway, it’s a perfect activity for all the family, as you can cycle as much or as little as you like. Bikes are available for hire in the city, Kilmacthomas and Dungarvan.
EXPLORE Inis Mór. As the biggest of the three Aran Islands, Inis Mór boasts an array of landmarks. The island can be reached from Galway or Doolin and is part of the Gaeltacht. There are three stone forts on the island, each different and unique in their own way. Dún Aonghasa is found right on the cliff’s edge. Action-junkies will enjoy visiting the Worm Hole, a rectangular-shaped pool, seemingly cut out of the limestone. Red Bull Cliff Diving held two competitions here. Spectacular historic churches can also be found on Inis Mór. You can get around the island by foot, bicycle, coach or in a pony and trap.
VISIT Croke Park. Although the All-Ireland hurling and football championships are finished for 2021, you can still pay a visit to Croke Park, with Stadium and Skyline Tours available. The Stadium Tour is your basic tour of Croke Park, with the history of the stadium explained as well as fun facts pointed out. Some of the indoor elements of the stadium tour are restricted due to COVID-19. The Skyline Tour is a walk on top of Croke Park, 17 stories high, making it Dublin’s highest open-viewing platform. After each tour, unless it’s the last of the day, you can soak up more history from Ireland’s most iconic stadium at the Croke Park Museum.