The Best Time of Year to Visit Ireland

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by Santorini Dave • Updated: January 25, 2019

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When is the Best Time to Visit Ireland?

The best time to visit Ireland is May to June or mid-September through mid-October, for pleasant weather with high temperatures around 17°C. Ireland is green year-round, with the possibility of heavy rain in any month. Quick weather changes are common, though, and a heavy rainstorm can be followed by sunny skies 30 minutes later.

Malahide Castle in County Dublin, Ireland. The best times to visit Ireland are spring and fall.

  • Best Time to Visit Ireland for Good Weather: Summer brings the warmest weather and the least amount of rainfall to Ireland. The season’s temperatures are considered warm for the Irish, ranging from 15°C to 19°C, but for many, especially those that live in more southern locales, it will feel quite mild or even cool. This is a great time to enjoying outdoor sights and lively festivals as well as all the attractions and activities that will be open, such as boat tours and wildlife-watching excursions, with more sun than rain, and 15 hours of daylight.
  • Best Time for Sightseeing: The best times for sightseeing in Ireland are in May, June, September, and October; when temperatures typically range from 13°C to 17°C, and tourism season isn’t at its peak. While July and August can bring delightful weather, the surrounding months often mean more tranquility, uninterrupted views, and fewer crowds and queues. While rain is a possibility anytime here, these shoulder seasons generally bring relatively comfortable sweater weather – just take along an umbrella or a hooded rain jacket in case of occasional showers.
  • Best Time for Golfing: A golf holiday is usually best enjoyed between May and mid-October. April can be a mixed bag with wet conditions (although some sunny days aren’t uncommon) and uncrowded greens. June may be the very best time to get out on the course as it’s possible to play as early as 5 a.m. and as late as 10:30 a.m., thanks to the country’s wonderfully long days. June is also the month when courses are usually in peak condition, with fairways and greens in great shape. Fair warning, however: traveling with rain gear is a must for all golfers as rain can appear on any given day of the year.
  • Best Time to Visit for Festivals: Summer brings a wealth of festivals to Ireland, with several dozen hosted on any given weekend during the season. These celebrations feature everything from music, food, and surfing to fairs and horse racing – there’s something for just about everyone. The next best time is around St. Patrick’s Day in mid-March, with Dublin hosting the world’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day festival. Plan to arrive early, before 9 a.m., for an uninterrupted view of the parade – the event draws some 450,000 to Dublin’s city center every year.
  • Best Time for a Castle Stay: The best time of year to visit Ireland for a reasonably-priced castle stay is during the low, winter season, outside of the holiday period. Castle hotels like Abbeyglen Castle in Clifden, Connemara typically offer special packages at bargain rates this time of year that include an extensive breakfast for under $200 a night.
  • Best Time to Visit for Shopping: Summer and just before and after the winter holiday season are the best time for bargains in Ireland. Some summer sales begin in June, but they really pick up in July and August. The pre-Christmas sales are a good opportunity to score bargains on cosmetics and perfumes as they’re often packaged as gift sets, providing a better value than when individually sold. For serious bargain hunters, the period just after Christmas brings lots of sales, with some items discounted as much as 50 percent.

Ireland Travel Seasons

  • High Season (Mid-June through August; the week surrounding St. Patrick’s Day, March 17): Summer is high season with warm (not hot) temperatures and long days that offer more time for sightseeing. With a relatively small population, Ireland tends to get more visitors than it has residents, with most arriving during this time of year. Expect crowds, especially at the most popular attractions, along with higher airfare and accommodation rates. The week around St. Patrick’s Day is nearly as busy as summer with celebrations throughout the country, resulting in higher costs and longer lines for attractions.
  • Shoulder Season (April through mid-June; September through mid-October): Shoulder season is the sweet spot, bringing a good chance for decent weather and lighter crowds. While rain is a possibility throughout the year, there is usually plenty of sunshine for enjoying outdoor sights and activities. Airfare and accommodation prices take a dip and the crowds have begun to thin, yet most attractions will still be open.
  • Low Season (Mid-October through March, except around St. Patrick’s week): Outside of St. Patrick’s Day, and perhaps the Christmas holidays, low season is the cheapest time to visit and the time when open attractions are rarely chaotic. While some accommodations may be closed during the chillier months of the year, others offer lower, off-season rates. The weather is frequently dark and dreary, but there’s almost always a cozy pub nearby for listening to traditional tunes and sipping a drink next to the warmth of a fire.

Ireland Weather by Month

The local climate can differ from place to place throughout Ireland, though generally not significantly. Southern Ireland tends to enjoy the warmest temperatures, and although the north coast is cooler than the south, the coolest weather is in the inland areas, away from the warm ocean waters. Coastal areas get more wind, and the mountains experience the wettest weather. Driest weather tends to occur east of mountainous areas like Ireland’s east coast.

  • Ireland Weather in January: January is typically one of the coldest months of the year, with average high temperatures around 7°C and lows of 3°C. Days are short, seeing fewer than eight daylight hours on the 1st, but increasing to nearly nine hours by the end of the month. While snow is possible, if it occurs it usually doesn’t last long. Rain is likely, averaging 70mm over 24 days. Pack clothing for cool, wet weather, like an insulated rain jacket, sweaters, gloves, and a warm hat. Going out a night requires a good winter coat. Dress in layers for those times the sun does make an appearance, but a foldable windproof umbrella is also highly recommended. (Average Max Temperature: 7°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
  • Ireland Weather in February: February brings more cold, wet, and windy weather. While days are still relatively short, by the end of February you can expect 10 hours and 43 minutes of daylight. Temperatures remain about the same with highs of 7°C and lows of 3°C, with a slight decrease in precipitation, averaging 60mm following over 22 days this month. Recommended dress in Ireland will be the same as well; warm clothing and layering, along with that travel umbrella. (Average Max Temperature: 7°C. Average Precipitation: 60mm.)
  • Ireland Weather in March: Rain increases again slightly this month with 70mm over 24 days, but temperatures are warming now with average highs of 10°C and lows at 4°C. Day length is increasing rapidly, and by March 31, there will be more daylight than darkness, with nearly 13 hours of sun – though it may be hidden behind clouds. Warm winter clothing and a windproof umbrella is still a must. (Average Max Temperature: 10°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
  • Ireland Weather in April: Everything starts warming up with the onset of spring; greens are greener now, and the sun comes out more often too. By April 30, there is nearly 15 hours of daylight, with sunrise just before 6 a.m. and sunset not until almost 9 p.m. Average highs are at 11°C and lows at 5°C, and there’s less precipitation now too, averaging 50 mm over 22 days this month. While temperatures have increased, it’s still rather chilly; warm clothes are still necessary along with an umbrella for the occasional shower. (Average Max Temperature: 11°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
  • Ireland in May: May is one of the best times to be in Ireland, with lengthening days and an average high temperature of an almost balmy 15°C. At month’s end, the sun rises just after 5 a.m. and doesn’t set until after 9:30 p.m. The average low is 7°C, so bring some warm clothing for after dark; a mix for layering (jacket and sweaters along with a few t-shirts for warmer days) is a good idea. With 50mm of precipitation over 20 days, expect some wet weather, though an umbrella is unlikely to be needed very often. (Average Max Temperature: 15°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
  • Ireland Weather in June: The wonderful long days of summer arrive this month, and with it, warmer temperatures too. The average high is now 17°C and the sun won’t set until about 10 p.m. by June 30. Rain still makes an appearance in June, with slightly more on average than last month with 70mm over 21 days. The weather varies between warmer and cooler days, so pack a mix of clothing, an umbrella, and a warm jacket for evenings. (Average Max Temperature: 17°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
  • Ireland Weather in July: One of the warmest months of the year, along with August, July high temperatures average 19°C while lows are at 12°C, so a sweatshirt or light jacket for late nights will still be a must. Sunglasses are more important now; bright, sunny days are commonly mixed in with grey ones, with the month seeing 50mm of precipitation over 23 days. As summer brings a mixed bag, plan to pack casual summer wear and to throw in a couple of sweaters along with that jacket. (Average Max Temperature: 19°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
  • Ireland Weather in August: While rain increases this month to 80mm falling over 23 days, temperatures will still be warm, averaging 19°C with lows at 12°C. Days are getting shorter now, with sunrise at 6:33 a.m. and sunset at 8:16 p.m. Packing for August is the same as July, with a mix of clothing that includes a travel umbrella. (Average Max Temperature: 19°C. Average Precipitation: 80mm.)
  • Ireland Weather in September: Temperatures dip a bit in September, with the average high now 17°C, but it’s typically one of the best months to visit the Emerald Isle. There’s often more sun than rain this month – the average precipitation of 60mm falls over 21 days, which is 20mm less than the August average. Packing a variety of clothing, including a sweater or jacket and an umbrella, along with more lightweight items for nicer days is ideal. (Average Max Temperature: 17°C. Average Precipitation: 60mm.)

  • Ireland Weather in October: There’s a notable chill in the air with autumn in full swing. The average high drops by four degrees to 13°C while the low is down to 8°C. Although precipitation is on the upswing to 80mm over 24 days, October usually brings quite a few sunny days too and can be a rather pleasant time for visiting Ireland without the crowds. There is likely to be vibrant fall foliage in places like Wicklow and Killarney national parks, along with crisp fresh air. Days are getting quite a bit shorter, with sunset just before 5 p.m. and sunrise at 7:14 a.m. (Average Max Temperature: 13°C. Average Precipitation: 80mm.)
  • Ireland Weather in November: Wintry conditions gradually arrive this month with the average high temperature decreasing to 10°C and the low at 5°C. Precipitation is slightly lower in November, however, with 60mm over 24 days. Day length is rapidly decreasing, with November 30th seeing a little less than eight hours of daylight. Approaching winter, heavier, warm winter gear, including an insulated rain jacket, will be needed more often than short-sleeve shirts. (Average Max Temperature: 10°C. Average Precipitation: 60mm.)
  • Ireland Weather in December: December is the heart of the low season and one of the chilliest months of the year with the average high at 8°C and the low at 5°C. Temperatures can dip below freezing and while snow is not unheard of, it is fairly rare other than on the mountaintops. Battling tourist crowds is unlikely, and this is a good time for experiencing indoor sights like castles and museums, as well as traditional live tunes in the pubs. Sunrises average at 8:41 a.m. and sunset at 4:14 p.m. Pack winter clothing and prepare for rain, with 80mm over 23 days in December. (Average Max Temperature: 8°C. Average Precipitation: 72mm.)

Ireland Events and Festivals

Ireland in January

  • New Year’s Day – As it is in most countries, January 1 is a national holiday in Ireland. This day tends to be very quiet, with many recovering from the previous evening’s festivities. Most shops and pubs will be closed, and those that do open tend to open later and close earlier than usual. While public transportation operates, schedules are typically limited. New Year’s Day parades are held in some cities, towns, and villages, including Dublin, which hosts a large parade that includes musicians, marching bands and other groups.
  • Temple Bar Tradfest – Ireland’s largest traditional music festival is held over five days in late January each year, showcasing Irish and international folk and traditional artists.
  • AstroFest – The world’s largest astronomy festival takes place annually over the last weekend in January in Galway. It features talks, exhibits and screenings as well as a place to mingle among those who share a passion for space, the earth sciences, and astrophysics.

Ireland in February

  • Saint Brigid’s Day – Saint Brigid of Kildare is considered the most important female saint in Ireland, and her feast day is February 1st, which also marks the onset of spring (though it’s unlikely to feel spring-like for another couple of months). The town of Kildare hosts a week-long series of events that begin on the first day of February, while Irish restaurants serve meals to celebrate, including Saint Brigid’s bread – closer to an oatcake than a typical bread.
  • Valentine’s Day – Valentine’s Day, February 14, is celebrated in Ireland as it is in many other countries, with love and romance. There are countless restaurants throughout the country that offer special dinners for the day, along with castle hotels that provide romance packages.
  • Chinese New Year – Dublin hosts an annual Chinese New Year Festival that takes place over the first half of February, with the 12th annual festival in 2019 the Year of the Pig. Expect pig-themed family entertainment, arts and crafts, workshops, food, musical performances, and martial arts displays.

Ireland in March

  • Saint Patrick’s Day – There no better place to be for St. Patrick’s Day than Ireland, but prepare for big crowds, busy pubs and interruptions in public transport. The St. Patrick’s Festival takes place over five days, March 14 through March 18 in 2019, and includes parades around the country. There is no bigger and more spectacular procession than Dublin’s. As the official day, March 17, falls on a Sunday in 2019, the public holiday which includes closures, is on Monday, March 18.
  • Dingle International Film Festival – Ranked as one of the world’s best film festivals for location, atmosphere, and content, this annual festival, held over four days in March (the 21st through 24th in 2019) offers unique screening experiences with stars, workshops, and seminars, including free family-friendly screenings.
  • Cork Sound Fair – A music festival that gives artists a platform to showcase experimental sound through live performances and installations in late March – March 28 through March 31 in 2019.

Ireland in April

  • Easter – When Easter Sunday occurs in April, there are various celebrations held to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising, especially in Dublin. Both Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays, bringing some closures. While shops in villages and smaller towns often close, an increasing number of businesses are choosing to remain open in urban centers.
  • Clifden Traditional Music Festival – Held in mid-April in the beautiful Connemara town of Clifden, this festival features traditional music, song, and dance with performances from around the country and beyond, along with a street festival and workshops. April 11 to April 14 in 2019.
  • Galway Food Festival – The annual Galway Food Festival takes place in mid-April each year, falling over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. It includes open-air markets, food demos, talks, workshops, and more than 100 food outlets, producers and restaurants. April 19 to 22 in 2019.

Ireland in May

  • May Day – The first Monday in May, May 6 in 2019, is May Day, a public holiday in Ireland with banks, post offices and many other businesses closed, however, pubs and stores generally stay open. Fairs are held in some villages, and there may be Labor Day parades, celebrations, and demonstrations in large cities like Dublin.
  • Burren in Bloom – Taking place over three days in mid-May, May 17 to May 19 in 2019, the Burren in Bloom Festival features talks, demos, walks and open gardens through the unique Burren area, known for its rare plants, with Mediterranean and Arctic types both growing here.
  • Fleadh Nua Music Festival – This annual music festival takes over the pubs and streets of the town of Ennis for eight days in May. There are over 120 separate events; music, song and dancing workshops, concerts, street entertainment, and more. May 19 – May 27 in 2019.
  • Wexford Food & Wine Festival – This festival held over the last weekend of May features a sumptuous feast of local foods and wine, including fresh seafood, Wexford strawberries, and tasty craft beers. Live music and other entertainment is hosted as well.

Ireland in June

  • June Bank Holiday – The first Monday in June is the June Bank Holiday, which falls on June 3 in 2019. Most businesses and schools are closed, though stores and pubs generally remain open. People take time to enjoy the late spring weather by attending local sporting and cultural events or family picnics and barbecues, sailing, or camping.
  • Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival – This massive event features three days of music, including lots of jam sessions, masterclasses, workshops, a showcase that features local instrument makers, and special events for kids. June 7-9 in 2019.
  • Bloomsday – Bloomsday in Dublin honors James Joyce, named after the central character in Ulysses, Leopold Bloom. People celebrate by donning period fashions, eating food mentioned in the book and visiting locations where the novel takes place. There is a variety of events that ranges from readings, lectures, and workshops to walking tours, music, theater and pub crawls. June 11-16 in 2019.
  • Cork Midsummer Festival – The annual Cork Midsummer Festival takes place around the summer solstice, June 14 to 23 in 2019, on the Banks of the Lee. Irish and international dance, music, theater, visual, and circus artists perform in parks, streets, and outdoor spaces.
  • Sea Sessions Surf and Music Festival – This mega surf and music festival draws surfers and musicians from around the world to the fun seaside town of Bundoran in County Donegal. In 2019, it will take place from June 21 to June 23.

Ireland in July

  • Galway International Arts Festival – The Galway International Arts Festival is held during the second half of July, July 15 to 28 in 2019. It features something for everyone; street performances, music, theatre, dance, visual arts, comedy, and literature.
  • Ennis Street Arts Festival – Held for a week in early July for the past 13 years, the Ennis Street Festival brings a variety of entertaining arts and cultural events, including a parade, workshops, music, stories, and song.
  • Galway Races Summer Festival – The world-renowned Galway Races Summer Festival brings people from across the country and the world for a grand week of horse racing, live music, and entertainment. It will be held from July 29 to August 4 in 2019.
  • Feile Brian Boru Festival – This annual festival in the historic twin towns of Killaloe and Ballina, July 3-7 in 2019, celebrates the legendary Brian Boru: hero, warrior, and king. Expect lots of poetry and music, dance, traditional carnival games, guided historical tours, craft workshops, street theater, farmers’ market, spectacular fireworks displays over the River Shannon, and more.

Ireland in August

  • August Bank Holiday – The August Bank Holiday falls on the first Monday in August, August 5 in 2019, with schools and most businesses closed. Lots of sporting and cultural events are held over the weekend, including local fairs, horse racing, art exhibitions, and arts festivals.
  • Puck Fair – This family-friendly street festival is one of Ireland’s longest-running events, held for three days each year in Killorglin, County Kerry (August 10-12 in 2019). It features a wild mountain goat that’s crowned king of the town by the Queen of the Puck, traditionally a local schoolgirl. There is a coronation parade, open-air concerts, mini-workshops on a variety of crafts, and much more.
  • Enniscorthy Rockin’ Food Festival – Held over the August holiday bank weekend, this popular food festival features an impressive Artisan Food market that hosts more than 80 of the top local and artisan vendors along with an outstanding international lineup of rock artists that play free outdoor gigs. It’s a jam-packed weekend of events, classes, food and drink workshops, and activities for the kids. August 2 to August 5 in 2019.
  • Kenmare Fair – Kenmare is one of the few remaining towns to celebrate Fair Day, an annual event on the 15th of August for at least two centuries. On this day, farmers and breeders bring their horses, cattle, sheep, donkeys, ducks, and chickens to the town square to trade or sell them in the streets. Today it also includes a wide range of stalls that sell everything from fortune-telling to antiques.
  • Cape Clear International Storytelling Festival – Held on Cape Clear Island, Ireland’s southernmost inhabited island, this festival focuses on the famous Irish skill of storytelling. August 30 to September 1 in 2019.

Ireland in September

  • Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival – One of the country’s most famous festivals, this matchmaking festival in County Clare is the only remaining one of its kind in Ireland. It takes place over the entire month of September, with music and dancing hosted September 13-15, 20-22 and 27-29 in 2019. Held for more than 160 years, it’s one of the country’s oldest traditional festivals, bringing as many as 60,000 people from across the globe to enjoy the “craic” and the opportunity to find their true match.
  • Dublin Fringe Festival – This annual curated arts festival is spread over 16 days and is open to Irish and international participants with a focus on new and emerging artists; music, dance, live art, visual art, theater, and music.
  • Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival – An annual four-day event held on the last weekend of September in Galway’s city center is the longest running Oyster Festival in the world. In 2019 it will take place from September 27 to September 29 at the Nimmos Pier Marquee. Enjoy a wide variety of events, from oyster shucking championships to tasting events, seafood trials, competitions, an oyster feast off, live music, cooking demos, family activities and more.

Ireland in October

  • Dingle Food Festival – Dingle’s most famous and popular festival attracts visitors from around the world to enjoy a variety of eats in one of the country’s most picturesque settings. It takes place on the first weekend of October every year with attendees savoring some of the best food and drink the region has to offer at more than 70 venues. There are workshops, cooking demos, street entertainment, live music, wine and whiskey masterclasses, a craft beer and cider trail, and children’s events.
  • Guinness Cork Jazz Festival – Ireland’s biggest and longest-running jazz festival takes place in Cork for three days in mid-October, October 18 to 22 in 2019. It draws hundreds of musicians and thousands of music fans to the city with events held at over 90 different venues, including the streets of Cork, concert halls, pubs, theaters and clubs. Many of the events are free.
  • October Bank Holiday – The last Monday in October is a bank holiday, with post offices, banks and many other businesses closed. In addition to Halloween-themed events, the Dublin Marathon takes place this weekend, running through the city streets.
  • Halloween – As Halloween’s birthplace, the day is celebrated in a big way throughout the country with kids trick-or-treating and many parties hosted in the pubs and elsewhere. Dublin hosts an annual Halloween parade that celebrates Celtic heritage with music and dance.

Ireland in November

  • Subtitle Film Festival – This Kilkenny festival is held over a week in late November and is the only one of its kind featuring popular subtitled European films. Expect a lineup of stars and filmmakers on Sunday night during the festival’s Angela Awards.
  • Galway Science and Technology Festival – Held for two weeks in mid-November, this festival in Galway features an excellent lineup of demonstrations, workshops, and talks along with interactive exhibits, education events, and fun activities.

Ireland in December

  • Galway Christmas Market – This annual market takes place in Galway’s Eyre Square from late November through December 22. It offers a fun, festive environment that includes a Ferris wheel, carnival rides, performers, live music, holiday carols, and a wealth of stalls selling a variety of items.
  • Wexford Winterland Festival – This festival takes place at various locations in Wexford with a long list of activities, events, and workshops for the holidays.
  • Winter Solstice – There are many winter solstice celebrations in Ireland, but the biggest of all is in Newgrange, the Neolithic tomb in County Meath which dates back around 5,000 years. Only a select few get to experience the winter solstice here through the lottery draw, although these days the event is streamed online for viewing as well.
  • Christmas Day and St. Stephen’s Day – Christmas Day is a public holiday with post offices, banks and nearly all businesses closed, though a few pubs and stores may be open with limited hours. It’s a quiet time with Irish families often attending church services followed by formal Christmas dinners. Some hotels with restaurants may offer Christmas meals for guests. The following day, December 26, is St. Stephen’s Day which is also a public holiday.
  • New Year’s Eve – There are New Year’s celebrations throughout Ireland on December 31. Dublin’s New Year Festival based around the Custom House, includes a Countdown Concert from 8 p.m. and the Liffey Lights Midnight Moment which includes music performed to a thrilling choreography of lights and laser beams. The tiny village of Portmagee on the County Kerry Coast celebrates the event with a quirky, carnival-like parade, ushering out the “Old Year,” and welcoming in the New Year with the procession winding through the streets led by a piper. A local man dressed up as the Old Year becomes increasingly decrepit, and at the stroke of midnight, he withers away and disappears. A local dressed as the New Year makes his appearance, greeting the crowd while camaraderie and pints of Guinness flow at the Bridge Bar long into the night.

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