Autumn Festivals and Events

Our guide to some of the best festivals during October and November is proof that even though the summer is behind us, the fun doesn’t need to stop when you take a short break in Ireland’s Ancient East. Catch a fantastic festival – and be sure to explore other great local attractions while you’re there.
Púca Festival character
A performance at the Wexford Festival Opera
The Hook Head Lighthouse
Left: A spooky character at the Púca Festival | Middle: A performance at the Wexford Festival Opera | Right: The Hook Head Lighthouse

Púca Festival (31 Oct–2 Nov)

Ireland is the home of Halloween, which has its roots in the tradition of Samhain (the old Irish for ‘summer’s end’). The Púca Festival celebrates this tradition with three breathtaking nights of music, food and spectacle at a time when the veil between realities draws thin, and the spirits can move between worlds. Entertainment abounds: from Shadows of the Tain by Candlelit Tales (shadow puppetry with live musical accompaniment); to a haunting performance by singer-songwriter Lisa O'Neill; to Jerry Fish and his unearthly Púca Sideshow (one of three Trim Castle Concerts), an amazing festival line-up will light up the night skies.

The Feast of Samhain@Púca gives you the chance to sample the finest harvest dishes from award-winning Boyne Valley food and drink producers across restaurants, cafés and pubs in Athboy, Trim and Drogheda. Dishes created especially to celebrate Samhain using amazing local produce are paired with local craft beverages. Come and enjoy a Theatre of Food experience, free talks and information sessions from food producers, foragers and artisans – and celebrate the bounty of the season. For tickets and full event details, visit the Púca Festival website.​

Wexford Spiegeltent (10–28 Oct)

Now in its 7th year, the Wexford Spiegeltent festival in Wexford Town continues to combine a refreshing and eclectic mix of offerings – from the sublime to the surreal. With top-class diversions from music acts as varied as Smokie, The Coronas and Squeeze to rip-roaringly funny comedy from the likes of John Bishop, Neil Delamere and Reginald D. Hunter to mindblowing entertainment from OTT Wrestling, Keith Barry and Freak Fantastique – the festival truly has something for all tastes.

When you’re not rocking out or giggling the night away, why not discover what else Wexford has to offer? If arts are your thing, the Wexford Arts Centre is right up your street. If you fancy a bit of history and heritage, explore the Viking architecture while wandering through cobbled laneways, taking in the West Gate Heritage Tower and ruins of Selskar Abbey along the way.

Wexford Festival Opera (22 Oct–3 Nov)

As one of Europe’s longest-established and most popular opera events, this sparkling gem in the Wexford festival calendar has gone from strength to strength. With Massenet's Don Quichotte, Irish composer Charles Villiers Stanford's The Veiled Prophet and the annual Gala Concert amongst the many highlights, the 68th year of Wexford Festival Opera will not disappoint.

To complement your festival experience, take the time to venture outside Wexford Town and you’ll be richly rewarded. Discover the story of the Great Hunger in the area at the fascinating Dunbrody Famine Ship in nearby New Ross. Embrace the seasonal spookiness with a trip to eerie Loftus Hall, Ireland’s ‘most haunted house’; then blow away any lingering cobwebs by visiting the world’s second oldest working lighthouse at Hook Head – where you’ll take in some stunning views along with plenty of bracing sea air. 

The Cork Jazz Festival in full swing
Sampling the wares at Savour Kilkenny
Enjoying a pint at the Smithwick's Experience
Left: The Cork Jazz Festival in full swing | Middle: Sampling the wares at Savour Kilkenny | Right: Enjoying a pint at the Smithwick's Experience

Guinness Cork Jazz Festival (24–28 Oct)

Another of Ireland’s best loved festivals returns to Cork City this October, with a stunning collection of Irish and international acts to cater to all music lovers. From soul to blues to plenty of jazz (naturally), the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival plays host to many unmissable acts – such as Kurt Elling, The Fred Hersch Trio and Spyro Gyra – all staged in a selection of venues strewn across the ‘southern capital’.

While you’re here, be sure to explore Ireland’s second city of Cork. Take some time to admire an exhibition at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery or stroll around the beautiful quad at University College Cork and nearby Fitzgerald Park. Enjoy artisan foods and shop for souvenirs in the Victorian English Market before making a joyful noise by ringing the Shandon Bells at St Anne’s Church.

Savour Kilkenny (24–28 Oct)

Food, glorious Kilkenny food! One of the country’s finest food destinations offers you a chance to sample and savour your way through a weekend of gastronomic delights in the shape of the Savour Kilkenny festival. The setting may be a medieval city, but the cuisine is modern and fresh. Blend some well-known chefs with celebrity foodies, sprinkle with fun events and serve to a hungry audience for the perfect short break recipe.  

Walk off all the gorgeous grub with an amble through the ancient winding streets of Kilkenny. Explore Kilkenny Castle and its verdant grounds before taking in the delights of the Medieval Mile. If you’ve worked up a thirst, stop in at the Smithwick's Experience and wet your whistle with a pint of Kilkenny’s finest beer.

A discussion at Kilkenomics
A screening at Cork Film Festival
Youghal Clock Gate
Left: A discussion at Kilkenomics | Middle: A screening at Cork Film Festival | Right: Youghal Clock Gate

Kilkenny Kilkenomics (7–10 Nov)

The world's first economics and comedy festival marks a decade this year. At Kilkenny Kilkenomics, money and funny combine – and a truly intellectual fun-filled weekend ensues! With economic discussion panel shows liberally sprinkled with comedy, the world is put to rights, turned upside down and righted again.

After learning all about economics, surely it’s time to shop ‘til you drop! Kilkenny has a wealth of great craft shops – including the National Craft Gallery and The Kilkenny Design Centre – that are well worth a visit. Visit one of Ireland’s best known potters, Nicholas Mosse at his workshop in Bennetsbridge or head down to Thomastown and watch sand being turned into beautiful glassware before your eyes at the Jerpoint Glass Studios.

Cork Film Festival (7–17 Nov)

Celebrating the best in local, national and international cinema, the Cork Film Festival includes movie showings, discussions and workshops over 10 days. Filmmakers from all over the globe have entered their offering to the judging panel for consideration under numerous categories. Pop along and enjoy some cinematic magic in Cork City.

When not watching or learning about movies, check out some of the scenery that inspires local filmmakers and go discover stunning East Cork. Visit the picturesque coastal towns of Youghal and Cobh. While in Cobh, learn more about the tragic Titanic’s journey from its last port to its ill-fated resting place in the Atlantic at the Titanic Experience.

This Autumn, make the most of the fantastic festivals of Ireland’s Ancient East by enjoying the multitude of other amazing things there are to do during your stay. It’s time to hit the road and go explore!

More to explore this Autumn

Enjoy your escape in Ireland's Ancient East!

For more attractions and activities
check out the See & Do section