The people of Ireland generally don't shy away from the thought of throwing a good party, which makes this picturesque country a top-notch destination for those looking to get festive. Celebrations are an important part of Irish culture, and religious events, historical figures and national heritage are just a few of the things deemed fit to enthusiastically commemorate in Ireland. Whether you're looking for a beer-soaked feast or some serious contemplation, Ireland's biggest celebrations are sure to put you in a festive mood.
St. Patrick's Festival
The biggest of all celebrations in Ireland, St. Patrick's Festival (stpatricksfestival.ie), named after Ireland's patron saint, celebrates the country's rich culture and heritage with parades, dancing, music, food and plenty of pints of beer. What started as a one-day holiday on March 17 is now a multiday celebration enjoyed by more than a million locals each year. Although Dublin's celebration is arguably one of the country's biggest, you're guaranteed to find holiday revelers all across Ireland, from small villages to major metropolitan cities.
Christmas in Ireland is a grand celebration, lasting from about Dec. 24 to Jan. 6, though many count Dec. 8 as the official start of the season. Throughout the celebratory season, you'll find singing choirs and street musicians on the sidewalks and patrons filling local pubs to enjoy this important Irish holiday. Ireland's large Catholic population crowds churches across the country for midnight mass on Christmas Eve, as well as for Christmas Day mass. Dec. 26 marks St. Stephen's Day, a national holiday honoring the Christian martyr, which is celebrated with traditional ceremonies, feasts and trips to pubs across Ireland.
The Irish Bloomsday celebration (jamesjoyce.ie) honors James Joyce, one of Ireland's most famous literary masters. This event is held each year on June 16, the day in which Joyce's classic novel "Ulysses" takes place. First celebrated in Ireland in 1954, Bloomsday is now a worldwide event celebrated by Joyceans across the globe. Dublin's James Joyce Centre hosts a number of events in the days leading up to Bloomsday, including reenactments, performances, readings and breakfasts based on cuisine featured in the novel. Some Bloomsday enthusiasts even don Edwardian costumes and make pilgrimages to Dublin locations mentioned in the book.
No matter what time of year you choose to visit Ireland, you'll likely find some sort of celebration or event going on, from music festivals to street fairs. If you're in Galway in late September, head to the International Oyster Festival (galwayoysterfest.com) to fill up on seafood. In October, the city of Cork hosts the biggest jazz festival in Ireland (guinnessjazzfestival.com), and the town of Derry attracts partygoers near and far for its annual Banks of the Foyle Hallowe'en Carnival (derrycity.gov.uk/halloween).
*Culled from traveltrips.usatoday.com.