The Best Festivals To Attend In May - The Gloss Magazine

The Best Festivals To Attend In May

From Cannes to Cork and Portmarnock to Phoenix Park, the line-up of festivals this month will ensure there is something for every enthusiasm …

May Sunday Festival, Killeagh, East Cork, May 3-6

Dawn Chorus walks in the woods, sunrise yoga sessions, Cré clay workshops, Dogsercise adventure trails for dogs, wreathmaking, music, dancing and photo exhibits – The May Sunday Festival from May 3-6 in the village of Killeagh, East Cork certainly offers lots of fun for the whole family! “Bealtaine means the return of the light, and true to our Celtic roots, the May Sunday Festival kicks starts with a procession led by stilt walkers from Greywoods Arts to Glenbower Woods for a fire-flame show. The new Seed Pavilion, a community co-designed pop-up gathering space and initiative to support the ecology of the woods, will be opened and the May Sunday celebrations will begin,” explains Jessica Bonenfant, Festival Organiser and Artistic Director at Greywood Arts in Killeagh.

Street Photography Festival, Dublin, May 3-6

The inaugural Dublin Street Photography Festival takes place from May 3-6 at Charlemont Square, Dublin 2. The festival features an exhibition of work by international and Irish photographers with lectures, workshops and guided photo walks over four days. Organised by Des Byrne and Paul Murray, of the Irish Street Photography Group, they explain: “Our aim is to raise awareness of this wonderful art form and attract new street photography enthusiasts. Through exhibitions, lectures, workshops and walks we want to excite image makers, inspire them and further develop their talents.”

Foodie Fest, Mountain View, Co Kilkenny, May 4-5

The inaugural Foodie Fest will be held at Mountain View, Co Kilkenny on Saturday and Sunday, 4-5. It will feature contestants from BBC’s MasterChef show who will be hosting a series of culinary masterclasses from Italian-style cooking to recycling food into wholesome dishes and giving tips for summer barbecues. On Saturday, executive chef of Mountain View Keith Boyle will oversee a “Dinner with the MasterChefs” in which MasterChefs Nick Rapson, Forest Kwok and Matthew Samuels will prepare a four-course menu in the venue’s stylish Greenhouse Restaurant. There will also be a street food market, plus workshops on good gut health and pilates and yoga classes.

Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, France, May 14-25

If you happen to be on the Cote d’Azur during the Cannes Film Festival, do go and soak up the atmosphere on the famous Croisette. You might spot the Irish contingent who are there for the festival. This year Irish film is well represented with five Irish co-productions receiving their world premieres at the festival. Irish director Lorcan Finnegan’s The Surfer will receive its world premiere in the Midnight Screenings programme. Element Pictures’ On Becoming a Guinea Fowl will screen in Un Certain Regard and Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest film Kinds of Kindness is in the official competition. In addition, two Screen Ireland-supported co-productions have been selected for Official Competition (Ali Abassi’s The Apprentice) and Ariane Labed’s September Says. Look out for Andrea Arnold’s Bird, starring Barry Keoghan and with Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Robbie Ryan. No doubt Barry will rock the red carpet with his singular style!

Ballymaloe Festival of Food, Co Cork, May 17-19

This new three-day food festival, from May 17-19, celebrates 60 years of Ballymaloe and will be jam-packed with cooking demos, pop-up dinners, talks, walks, craft exhibitors and activities celebrating the journey of good food from the soil and sea. Based in and around the original family country house and its outbuildings including The Grainstore, Big Shed and gardens, the event has a clear message – one of sustainability, and a return to the roots of that original farm-to-table movement so important to Ivan and Myrtle Allen. The full programme includes restaurant pop-ups including Lee Tiernan of London’s Black Axe Mangal and Nico Reynolds of Lil’ Portie, and guests on the cooking demonstration stages include Matt Tebbutt, host of Saturday Kitchen, Aishling Moore of Goldie, Marco Pierre White, Lily Ramirez-Foran of Picado Mexican, Clodagh McKenna, Georgina Hayden and many more. Weekend tickets for all three days are €65 per person, individual day tickets on Friday are €20, with Saturday and Sunday tickets for €25 per person. Children under 12 go free. For further ticket details see

The International Literature Festival Dublin, Merrion Square, Dublin, May 17-26

Now in its 27th year, this year’s edition returns to its Literary Village home in Merrion Square Park, Dublin 2 with a programme featuring over 230 events, including Richard E. Grant, Marian Keyes, Amor Towles, Marilynne Robinson, Seanchoíche, Liz Pichon and many more. Other speakers include Pulitzer prize-winning poet Natalie Diaz and Marlon James who will reflect on ten years of A Brief History of Seven Killings which made him the first ever Jamaican writer to win the Man Booker Prize in 2015. Other discussions will delve into geopolitical landscapes of the past and present, such as Nathan Thrall who will discuss his novel A Day in the Life of Abed Salama, a human portrait of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the lives of those caught in the crossfire. Another central aspect of the festival is its events centred around classics, retellings and reimaginings. Nuala O’Connor, featured in our May issue of THE GLOSS, reimagines the life of Cork-born pirate queen Anne Bonny, while Ferdia Lennon explores the timeless question of ‘masculinity’ against the backdrop of ancient Syracuse. It’s not all high brow literary discussions – if you’re in the vicinity at lunchtime, there are musical performances during the Lunch Break Beats segment, while Pages in Performance sees a series of live readings from the festival catalogue by the Gaiety School of Acting.

Rockshore Après Sea, Portmarnock, Co Dublin, May 5

Inspired by après ski parties after a day’s skiing is finished, Rockshore Après Sea is a one-day festival taking place on Sunday May 5, at The White Sands Hotel, Portmarnock, Co Dublin. “Rockshore was born on the coast of Ireland, and as such we are committed to protecting it – in a way that’s refreshingly Irish. Ticket proceeds for Après Sea will be donated to the charity ‘Flossie & The Beach Cleaners’, supporting their invaluable beach cleaning efforts to safeguard and champion Ireland’s coasts,” explains Anne Zahan, Head of Beers, Diageo Ireland. Rudimental will headline a line-up that also includes Irish DJ Dave Treacy. Tickets cost €15 and the event runs from 4pm – 8pm. Get your tickets here:

Culture Date with Dublin 8, May 8-12

Over 80 events including talks, walks, tours, markets, and concerts are part of this annual event, now in its sixth year. One of the standout events is an exhibition entitled “Humans of the Liberties” at The Bank on James Street. The photo exhibition, in association with the popular “Humans of Dublin” project, will feature local residents, highlighting their tales of survival, personal triumphs, and community bonds. Meanwhile, at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, visual artist Sonia Shiel will present an exhibition of paintings that delve into our relationship with the darker aspects of life. Pallas Projects will feature an exhibition called NAMACO, which delves into the topic of land ownership in Ireland. Lastly, an exhibition titled “Age is a Privilege, Unless you forget” by artist Debbie Castro will be on display at St Patrick’s Hospital, focusing on the theme of memory loss. Many of the events are free but booking is required.

Blas na Bealtaine, Galway, May 1-31

Founded by chef JP McMahon to celebrate Galway’s hospitality, Blas Na Gaillimhe (A Taste of Galway) has a diverse line-up of workshops, talks, and events – there is something for every palate and every curiosity. Highlights include a Feijoada weekend in Salthill with chef Laura Rooso, a pop-up oyster bar in Aniar (which has a smart new look) and a pasta masterclass with Jess Murphy and Pasta Tony in Massimo Bar. Cava Bodega welcomes Javier Murúa of Bodegas Muriel for an evening of talks, tapas, and wine, while Tom Sheridans will host Bia Bites: A celebration of local produce, with a wine pairing. For those seeking a unique dining experience, Aniar presents the Chef Swap series, where guest chefs collaborate to create once-in-a-lifetime menus.

Wellfest, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, May 11-12

Presenter, podcaster, DJ and leading fitness guru, Vogue Williams is headlining WellFest 2024 and will be joined by fitness and Instagram star Joe Wicks MBE; medical doctor, author and podcaster, Dr Hazel Wallace, better known as The Food Medic; health and wellbeing consultant and TV fitness instructor, Derrick Evans MBE aka Mr Motivator; and broadcaster, outdoors enthusiast and food creator Roz Purcell. The weekend will be busy – with more than 150 health and wellness experts across 15 different themed areas with masterclasses in fitness, wellness, Pilates, yoga, mindfulness, healthy food and more.

Blackwater Valley Opera Festival, Waterford, May 27-June 3

This eight-day festival comprises 100 international and Irish performers across 22 events, at historic venues in Lismore, Youghal, Dungarvan and Castlemartyr. This year’s highlight is Giulio Cesare by G. Handel, which will be performed in the grounds of Lismore Castle, Waterford. In addition, the BVOF 2024 Concert Series at Dromore Yard will feature incredible performances, including a bel canto operatic concert, Of Emperors, Kings, and Queens, starring Serenad Uyar, Leonardo Galeazzi, and Dearbhla Collins; the Clara Haskil Piano Competition Concert presented by Finghin Collins, featuring Magdalene Ho with Marc Coppey; and the festival finale Antonio Vivaldi Concert with the Irish Baroque Orchestra. For food enthusiasts, there will be excellent dining options, including celebrity TV chef Eunice Power’s Giulio Cesare menu at Lismore Castle. The popular pop-up programme of free BVOF Open Air Lunchtime Recitals also returns to Waterford and Cork – the perfect opportunity to experience classical and operatic music in a relaxed environment.

Bord Bia Bloom, Phoenix Park, Dublin, May 30-June 3

A festival of flowers, food and fun, Bord Bia Bloom returns to the Phoenix Park, Dublin, over the June bank holiday weekend, when over 100,000 visitors are expected! In addition to the Show Gardens, there will be an impressive schedule of live talks, music, performances and demos across multiple stages each day including the Sustainable Living Stage, Garden Stage and the Quality Kitchen Stage. The Postcard Gardens is always a favourite and highlights amateur garden designs from community groups nationwide. The beauty of this festival is that it appeals to everyone – gardening enthusiasts, foodie friends, nature lovers, shoppers interested in quality, Irish produce and crafts, as well as families looking for a great day out, or those seeking garden and home design inspiration. Tickets are priced from €25. Up to two children aged 12 and under go free with every adult ticket.

The Burren Slow Food Festival, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, May 19

This event, organised by Slow Food Clare, is Ireland’s longest running food festival and will take place on May 19 at the Pavilion in Lisdoonvarna. It is part of a month-long festival of wellness, hosted by the Burren Ecotourism Network. From artisanal cheeses, local honey and distilled products to freshly caught seafood, the festival showcases the best of what the Burren region has to offer – including an artisan farmers’ market, cookery demonstrations and wellness talks. We’re getting tickets to the Burren Slow Food banquet, and making sure to stock up on some local honey and smoked salmon from the Burren Smokehouse, celebrating its 35th year in business.

Cellissimo, Galway, May 18 – 26

Former President of Ireland and Chair of the Elders, Mary Robinson will give the keynote speech at the opening night of Cellissimo – Songs of Travel: The Journey Begins, on Saturday May 18. That’s an indication of how significant this new festival is, comprising 27 concerts in Galway city and county with over 500 Irish and international performers and musicians taking part, one of whom is conductor and composer Eimear Noone (pictured). The diverse festival programme includes community celebrations, student-focused events, a film screening, a gaming event with live score, a mystery cello trail on Inishbofin Island, and a photography exhibition. Organisers say this inclusive, accessible celebration, will appeal to both classical aficionados and novices. Most of the events are ticketed events.

Dublin Dance Festival, May 14-25

Asia’s leading contemporary dance company Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan opens the Dublin Dance Festival in Bord Gáis Energy Theatre with a performance called 13 Tongues, representing the sights, sounds and vitality of Taipei’s oldest district Bangka. The festival also has three performances on the Abbey stage, spanning street dance, hip hop and European folk dance. A highlight is Night Dances by acclaimed choreographer Emma Martin, described as “an ode to the body and a visceral, sweaty love letter to dance in all its forms from clubs to competitions to ceremonies.” There will also be short dance-inspired films at the Irish Film Institute as well as free outdoor performances, called Bench #3, which is an invitation to pause and discover dance.


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