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Wild Atlantic Way Foodie Festival Paradise



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Local ingredients, inspired chefs, cosy pubs and homegrown goodness… shake the hand that feeds you at one of the many incredible food festivals along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Seafood straight from the boat reels in diners on the Wild Atlantic Way from County Donegal to County Cork, but gourmet delights don’t begin and end with the sea. Artisan producers all along the coast are busy making some of Europe’s most renowned cheeses, craft brews and chocolates, with primary ingredients sourced from farmers and foragers who are rooted in traditions of the west. 

Foodies can celebrate the spoils of the western seaboard at some of the best food festivals in Ireland, many of which take place throughout the summer and early autumn months. With local foods freshly harvested, it’s the perfect time to sample this exquisite food culture. Enjoy expertly prepared dishes, served simply and with a relaxed style. Check out the below list for starters.

 
  • At the Baltimore Seafood Festival there’s something to please every palate
 

BALTIMORE SEAFOOD FESTIVAL – 24-26 May 2019

Beat a path all the way down to the end of the road and the laid-back fishing village of Baltimore, home to a pretty harbour, the curious and awe-inspiring Beacon, and the Baltimore Seafood Festival. This three-day event kicks off summer each year the southern way, enticing visitors and locals alike with a show-stopping spread of fun and flavour served up alongside the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival - itself a major draw garnering routinely rave reviews. 

From dreamy local cheeses and freshly baked treats to just-off-the-boat delicacies of the deep, there’s something to please every palate. Enjoy live music in the Square by day and a refreshing sup in the pub by night, and when you’re ready to walk off all that indulgence, you can hit the Baltimore Heritage Trail, have a wander around the restored Dún na Séad Castle (known as the Fort of Jewels), or even take to the high seas for a spot of whale and dolphin watching, diving, kayaking, sailing or boating out to nearby Sherkin, Cape Clear or Heir Island.


A TASTE OF DONEGAL – 23-25 August 2019

Each August, food lovers from all around the country – and beyond – head north for the annual culinary celebration, A Taste of Donegal. This year, an impressive 110 food exhibitors are gearing up to showcase their delicious wares in marquees on the town’s pier area. All tastes are catered for at this buzzing event; visitors sample local seafood, gourmet meats, Aran Islands cheese, fresh bread courtesy of Donegal craft bakery, and of course, a local tipple from the likes of Long Meadow Cider! 

The event also features chef competitions, cookery demonstrations, live music and even a fireworks display over the pretty bay. Of course, the setting is just as inviting; Donegal Town is a great base from which to explore this wild and expansive county. Be sure to visit nearby Sliabh Liag (Slieve League), home to some of Europe’s highest sea-cliffs, and charming St. John’s Point Lighthouse, a great spot for divers.

 
  • Kinsale Harbour
  • A Taste of west Cork
  • Burrenbeo Trust
 

A TASTE OF WEST CORK – 6-15 September 2019

The entire region of West Cork is renowned for its wild beauty, and long-famed for its artisanal produce. At A Taste of West Cork in the town of Skibbereen (from An Sciobairín, meaning ‘little harbour town’), you’ll meet the producers of some of Europe’s best cheeses, and taste some delicious locally-grown produce. Indeed, if cheese is your thing, welcome to the home of Gubbeen, Durrus, Milleens and Carrigaline. 

Running over 10 days during September, this year the festival kicks off the all-new Taste the Island initiative, showcasing tasty local wares at feast and food tour alike. There’s plenty of non food-related activities around Skibbereen, too – why not head out onto nearby Lough Hyne for a spot of romantic moonlit kayaking, browse through local art and craft centres, or simply take a scenic walk and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of this area.

 
  • See the World Oyster Opening Championship
 

GALWAY INTERNATIONAL OYSTER AND SEAFOOD FESTIVAL – 27-29 September 2019

To Galway next, a bustling and vibrant city that has retained its unique, intimate charm. Just minutes from its cobbled streets – home to an array of craft shops, boutiques and pubs - you’ll find Salthill, an iconic seaside strand that looks out to the wild Atlantic. It’s no surprise then that the city plays host each year to a festival dedicated to seafood. Every September, Galway welcomes worshippers of the ostrea edulis (a type of oyster) for gourmet food, fine wines and plenty of celebration. 

The local molluscs grow undisturbed for three years in Galway Bay in order to become perfectly juicy for connoisseurs and novices alike at the three-day event. Kicking things off, a colourful parade weaves its way through the city, heralding the start of the festival’s famous World Oyster Opening Championship. Celebrations continue well into the wee hours each night, with plenty of fun, quirky events like the Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball having delighted festival-goers in previous years.

 
 
Sweet treats at Dingle Food Festival
 

DINGLE FOOD FESTIVAL – 4-6 October 2019

You’ll be as charmed by the quaint fishing town of Dingle as the food festival that takes place there each year. Sitting on the headland of jutting Dingle Peninsula, it’s home to both sandy white beaches and the soaring mountains typical of rugged County Kerry. 

For one weekend each October, farmers’ markets line the streets of this picturesque getaway, while shops, pubs and restaurants all take part in festivities, too. Chat to friendly locals and sample their delicious organic produce, join food trails, sample wine tastings and go on foraging walks in the stunning Kerry countryside. In the evenings, take a stroll through the town and visit some of Dingle’s many award-winning restaurants.Both Doyle’s and The Global Village have enjoyed Trip Advisor's Certificate of Excellence status several times over, while the highly rated Chart House has been listed in the Michelin Guide


KINSALE GOURMET FESTIVAL – 11-13 October 2019

The historic port and fishing town of Kinsale in County Cork provides the gorgeous setting for the next stop on our trail of world-class Irish food festivals. Located at the mouth of the River Bandon, this town is a veritable foodie’s paradise. An array of respected culinary establishments and artisan food producers has earned Kinsale its well-deserved title of gourmet capital of Ireland. Kicking off with a champagne reception each October, you can sample a delicious five-course menu offering the best of West Cork’s fare, learn a few tricks at the celebrity chef cook-off, or head along on the Mad Hatter’s walking tour, where you’ll dine on the delights of Kinsale’s Good Food Circle of 10 restaurants. On the Sunday, there’s a Fruits de Mer Seafood Spectacular where you can taste locally caught lobster, crab, prawn and much more. 
 

BURREN WINTERAGE WEEKEND – 24-27 October 2019 

Heritage and farming take centre stage at the Burren Winterage Weekend, which celebrates the living landscape and farming families that work the land of The Burren. Understanding The Burren means encountering it firsthand; this unique, craggy 250sq km stretch of land in County Clare translates from the Irish Boireann, meaning ‘rocky place’. Farming this land has traditionally been tough, given the lack of soil cover, yet this sparse area retains a haunting beauty. At the festival, which takes place each October, you’ll dig in at the community feast, hear about sustainable farming at insightful talks and visit the farms that feed you. Since it’s near Samhain (Halloween) time, you might even hear a banshee story or two. The figure of the banshee, or bean sí (female fairy) is rooted in Irish mythology; her unique cry is said to be the omen of death – if you hear her, you’re not long for this world!

 
  • Image via Connemara Mussel Festival
 

MORE FESTIVALS

We’ve profiled some here, but there are lots more edible festival finds along the Wild Atlantic Way for the adventurous eater. Fish fans won’t want to miss the Connemara Mussel Festival over the May Bank Holiday weekend in County Galway, or the Valentia Island King Scallop Festival, taking place 20-21 July in County Kerry. Féile na Mara, the Festival of the Sea, where locally caught lobster is a specialty, sets tastebuds tingling on Achill Island throughout the month of July.

For adults, the coastal town of Doolin – famed for its traditional Irish music – hosts the Doolin Craft Beer & Roots Festival. Each August, over 20 local craft brews are available to sample, with plenty of live music over the weekend, too. 

As summer eases into autumn, it’s time for Taste the Island 2019, an eight-week celebration of Ireland’s food and drink. This all-new culinary knees-up kicks off on the Wild Atlantic Way in September with A Taste of West Cork, continuing on through October and November with a packed programme of exceptional food events that will whet whistles from west to east. 

Donegal’s impressive festival newcomer, Hooked Killybegs, shines a tantalising light on its regional seafood, seafaring and maritime traditions in September, while further south in Galway, the sheltered bay at Clarinbridge, where conditions have remained perfect for oyster harvesting since Roman times, celebrates 65 years in 2019 of paying homage to the magic mollusc with the Clarinbridge Oyster Festival. And off the Galway coast, the island of Inishbofin offers up fabulous food fest Bia Bó Finne, which celebrates local fare and traditional skills each October. 

 

 

 

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