We are taught to speak nicely and be ‘cultured’ – and we might get taken off to the theatre or a museum to ‘get some culture’. It’s a tricky word, ‘culture’ – often misunderstood and misused. And while yes, it may refer to a Sunday trip to the art gallery – it’s so much bigger than this. Because culture is in the spirit of a people. It’s their ideas, their customs, their beliefs. Culture is in the jokes they tell, the way they celebrate a birth or a death and it’s in the food that graces their table. Culture is part of a people’s DNA – and nowhere is it more alive, more colourful and vibrant than in County Clare: the county that captures what it means to be Irish – this year, and always.
It’s 2016 and there’s simply never been a better time to be discovering the culture and lifestyle of Ireland – and nowhere more perfect, than County Clare, as we celebrate this year as the designated County of Culture.
In the heart of the West Coast of Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way, Clare knows its cultural identity and it’s proud of it! This year, Clare Tourism in Partnership with Clare County Council will celebrate Clare – County of Culture. In this year we take time to pay homage to the rich cultural heritage which defines us, and which makes our county an important Irish cultural destination. And you’re invited to be a part of it!
In addition to all the usual cultural highlights that take place in the county throughout the year, Clare Tourism has proudly launched a packed programme of festivals and events throughout the year to mark the occasion. From music to song and dance, from food to sport, literature, fashion, heritage and so much more. So while you’re embracing the breathtaking scenery, discovering the best of cliff, sea, beach and vale and letting the fresh Atlantic breeze wake up body and mind – take time to feel the energy of Clare Culture.
Corofin Traditional Festival – Feb/March
This winter live the soul and spirit of Clare at this intimate festival of traditional music and song in Corofin – with concerts, workshops, recitals and lots of great pub sessions.
Kincora Traditional Weekend – April
Enjoy a weekend of lively traditional Irish music sessions… Love the traditional music river cruises, children’s sessions and pipe band parades.
Fleadh Nua – May
Singing, set dancing and sessions at their best at this 8-day traditional festival.
Doonbeg International Jazz Festival – June
A swinging, sassy, cool and laid-back weekend of all things jazz.
Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy – July
The name says it all. A true father of traditional Irish music, Willie Clancy is the initiator of, and inspiration behind, this week-long Miltown Malbay summer school of traditional music, song and dance. Embrace the whole experience – with everything from workshops and lectures to recitals and concerts.
Bunratty Bluegrass Festival – October
Bluegrass musicians from Ireland and abroad are showcased at more than 7 venues around Bunratty Village and Bunratty Folk Park.
THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR: INIS 2016 FLEADH 13 – 21 August
After 39 years, how proud we are to be welcoming back to the streets of Ennis the greatest Traditional Irish Music Festival in the world! This is a unique and welcoming festival of the best of traditional arts, offering a wide range of cultural activities to be enjoyed by all. A dazzling luminarium, opening pageant and concert, a special celebration of East Clare music, a special tribute to Clare musical diaspora around the world, the National Folk Orchestra and Kilfenora Ceili Band.
Festival of Finn, Corofin – April/May
Five fun-filled family days of craft and farmers’ market, angling competitions, dancing, children’s activities, walks and more.
The Father Ted Festival – April/May
From The Parochial House to Vaughan’s pub – celebrate all things Father Ted, taking place in actual locations used in the series.
Ennis Street Arts Festival – July
Local, national and international artists bring the very best in art, entertainment, colour and culture to the lively streets of Ennis. You’ll feel the whole town come alive and celebrate the spirit of creativity.
Rose of Clare Festival July/August
The whole family will love this fabulous field day at Cooraclare and Cree. It’s filled with sporting and heritage events as well as the crowning of the new Rose of Clare – a legendary competition to find the year’s new ambassador for the county.
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival – September/October
The Outing: LGTB Music and Matchmaking Festival – October
Looking for love and loads of fun? Then you belong in Lisdoonvarna for this world-famous, 160- year-old fair that focuses on bringing single people together in the best possible way through fun, music, dance and song. The festival’s matchmaker, Willie Daly, has set up over 3 000 marriages and some 60 000 people take part in the event every year.
Ennis Fashion Week – September
Style, glamour, elegance and pizzazz – celebrate the art of fashion in Ennis – the Boutique Capital of Ireland.
Burren Winterage Weekend – October
An experience that’s truly unique to Clare, this is a special community tribute to the tradition of pastoral farming. Walks, a food fayre, family events and a cattle drive combine to give you a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is typically Clare.
Doolin Writer’s Weekend – March
From aspiring authors to fully-fledged writers or simply for the love of great books! This eclectic mix of workshops, readings, theatre and music offers something for all.
Ennis Book Club Festival – March
It’s the 10th annual book club festival in the quaint, meandering town of Ennis. Look out for favourite and top writers featuring in talks, readings and discussions – from Diarmuid Ferriter to Marian Keyes.
PRIDE OF ST PATRICK’S DAY… Special Parades on 17 March
Enjoy colourful and entertaining floats, street foods, parade colour and magic, craft fairs, street entertainers and more!
Carrigaholt Oyter Festival April/May
It doesn’t get better than a glass of Guinness or champagne and a plate of sea-fresh, delicious oysters while traditional music completes the picture.
Doolin Craft Beer and Roots Festival – August
The best of Irish craft beer, the finest roots acts in the land and some mouthwatering Irish, Cajun and American favourites on the BBQ!