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Winter Festivals of the Wild Atlantic Way

The crisp winter months provide an atmospheric setting for a number of festivals, events and classes along the Wild Atlantic Way. Here’s just a selection of what’s set to take place in 2016.

Can't get enough art and literature in your life? Then make your way to the lovely town of Ballyshannon in unspoilt Donegal for the Allingham Arms Festival (3rd - 6th November). This intimate four-day event is dedicated to one of the town’s most famous sons: writer and poet William, and his wife Helen, a fine artist. Each winter, their memories are celebrated through music performances and workshops in poetry, creative writing, digital storytelling, design and art, with activities taking place in homely venues around the town.

Winter performance in Donegal at the Allingham Festival
A live music performance by Chanele McGuinness via the Allingham Arms Festival

Or perhaps you’d like to soak up some authentic Irish culture during your visit? Scoil Gheimhridh Ghaoth Dobhair (Dec 27th – Jan 1st) provides attendees with an immersive traditional Irish music experience. Ghaoth Dobhair (Gweedore) is a picturesque town in the Donegal Gaeltacht, and this fun event there offers workshops and lectures, as well as song, dance and Irish language classes.

Scenic Sligo, meanwhile, provides the setting for the annual Sligo Choral Festival. Now in its 28th year, this three-day November event sees choirs from all over the world compete for the coveted WB Yeats Perpetual Trophy. Between performances, be sure to explore the surrounding countryside – this Yeats Route is a great way to take in all it has to offer. 

Sample some delicious baked treats at Bake Fest, Ireland’s largest cake decoration and baking festival, which takes place every October in Galway. Visitors can take part in demonstrations, admire the amazing decorated cakes in the competition area, or simply nibble the wares on offer! 

Great Baked Goods at Bake Fest in Leisureland County Galway
Tasty treats at Bake Fest!

To Kerry next, where a whole host of fun events are set to take place, including the Sneem Storytelling & Folklore Festival (11th – 13th November). This charming gathering celebrates the age-old Irish tradition of storytelling, and welcomes a whole host of poets and authors to the town for workshops, walks, theatre and a cosy pub trail. 

The National Circus Festival of Ireland is a celebration of all things theatrical, and is the perfect indulgence for that inner child! Taking place in mid November in the lovely town of Tralee (10th – 13th), expect juggling master classes, aerial workshops, circus-themed movie nights and a vibrant parade that winds its way around the town. 

Trapeze Artist at the Nation Circus Festival of Ireland in Tralee County Kerry
The flying trapeze via the National Circus Festival of Ireland

Also in Kerry, the Kenmare Choral Festival runs in early December. A festive affair, you can expect gorgeous renditions of popular Christmas songs at concerts taking place around the town, as you sip on a hot toddy to keep you cosy and warm!  

View of Galway Christmas Market happening in winter in Galway City
The Galway Christmas Market

Still feeling festive? In the run-up to Christmas, there are lots of lovely events and markets taking place, and their locations along the coast set a unique merry mood. Christmas in Killarney festivities include live shows, ice-skating, competitions and parties all around the town. In Clare, the magical Doonbeg Christmas Market is an old-worldly and atmospheric affair with arts and craft items (great for gifts) and tasty artisan foods on sale. The Galway Christmas Market, meanwhile, is the country’s largest and longest-running festive market, transforming the city centre into a veritable winter wonderland. 

That’s just a selection of the events taking place on the Wild Atlantic Way during the crisp winter months. Why not make it a truly atmospheric visit and stay in an ancient Irish castle? It’ll be the perfect base from which to explore the inspiring scenery along the coast. Our online directory is packed with events, restaurants, trips and tour – use it to start planning your trip today.