End-of-Summer Festivals Preview

The summer’s not over yet! A handy guide to the festivals we’re most looking forward to.

by Brian Bowe

With the memory of COVID lockdowns fading away, there is a great sense of hope and anticipation for Ireland’s upcoming summer festivals. There are definitely positive signs pointing towards a more “normal” festival experience this time compared to previous years.

We’ve already seen terrific events take place in Dublin, such as The Forbidden Fruit Festival this past June. Legendary DJ Eric Prydz brought that sun-filled weekend to a close in style, but it was rising star Rina Sawayama, headlining Day 1 of the festival, who really stole the show. With brilliant stage choreography, multiple outfit changes and the surprise inclusion of metal songs, she ensured concert-goers got their money’s worth. 

Coming up, of course, is Ireland’s biggest music and arts festival, Electric Picnic. Catering for 80,000 people every summer in Stradbally, Co. Laois, Electric Picnic is back (Sept 1st-3rd) with a busy line-up of exciting artists.

Electric Picnic
Electric Picnic (Image credit: Wikimedia)

Already set to headline the Main Stage are Billie Eilish, The Killers, and Fred Again. Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi was scheduled to headline Saturday but has confirmed he will not be touring for the foreseeable future due to health concerns. Other mainstage acts include Ireland’s own Niall Horan, Jamie XX, Tom ODell, Steve Lacy, IDLES, 80’s icon Rick Astley and Amyl & The Sniffers.

While the main stages are always a treat, true Picnic connoisseurs know that the smaller hidden gems hold the key to a truly remarkable festival experience. One such gem that has become a hot-spot for attendees through the years is none other than the iconic Trailer Park. With its whimsical, vintage-inspired aesthetic and boundless quirkiness, this enchanted wonderland is bound to transport you to a world of alt delights.

Billie Eilish (Image credit: Wikimedia)

Away from the main stage’s foot-stomping anthems, the Trailer Park stage will include performances from Tan and Sober Gentlemen, Negro Impacto, Clara Tracey, White Horse Guitar Club, Stomptown Brass, Bootleg Beach Boys, and many, many more.

“The thing that sets the Picnic apart is the spirit of the audience,” said festival boss Melvin Benn. “It really is a spirit of Ireland being together, young and old being together. It’s a spirit of enjoyment, just being in a field. We can just be in a field having an amazing time even if it’s raining. It’s really special.”

Closer to home, the Music in Monkstown festival, taking place from September 8th to 10th, promises to provide audiences a weekend of cultured bliss. This classical music event boasts an impressive lineup of world-class musicians. Violin and piano duo Maria and Nathalia Milstein, along the Piatti String Quartet, will be performing with festival founder, clarinettist John Finucane.

Be sure not to miss the premiere of a brand-new composition by Shaun Davey, and prepare to be wowed by Irish traditional musician Aoife Ní Bhriain. Pianist Lance Coburn and Vox Amicum Brass will also grace the stage, along with flautist Valentine Laporte, who, last year, was awarded the title of Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Year. And as if that weren’t enough, the festivities will conclude with a post-concert jazz session.

clarinettist John Finucane

If performance art is more to your liking, Dublin Fringe Festival is definitely the place to be. From September 9th-24th, audiences can look forward to 562 performances in 32 venues, including 45 world premieres, 18 Irish premieres and nine Dublin premieres. 

Taking place across the capital, The 29th Fringe Festival looks set to be a feast for the senses. From after-dark cabaret and clubbing to exhilarating wrestling matches, there’s a lot to enjoy. Comedy lovers, theatre enthusiasts, dance fanatics, circus enthusiasts, and those looking for events tailored for children and younger people will all find their niche at this year’s festival.

David Francis Moore, the festival’s new director, describes the artists in this year’s line-up as “catalysts, expertly interweaving their narratives into the very fabric of Dublin. We are so thrilled to be able to bring their unique and extraordinary work to the city – and to offer Dubliners and visitors many new gems of the best new live performances in the country.”

Highlights this year include: Hothouse, a new play by Malaprop which confronts climate breakdown and its impact on future generations; Jony Easterby’s The Garden of Shadows which offers an immersive sound-and-light installation at the National Botanic Gardens. Only an Octave Apart, featuring cabaret artist Justin Vivian Bond and Anthony Roth Costanzo promises to combine classical, pop, and queer identities in a musical fantasia.

For more information on these upcoming festivals, be sure to check out their websites: