Musical locations around the island

Whether you’re looking for a traditional music session, a jazz festival or an exciting line-up of electronic, country and hip-hop artists, you needn’t look any further. The island of Ireland has all of this and more in its repertoire.

Walk into a traditional pub on the island of Ireland and you might see a corner that says, “reserved for musicians”. If you do, you’re in for a great night. Whether it’s a spontaneous performance or a more structured one, you can expect to enjoy a toe-tapping whirl of beats from instruments such as a bodhrán (a hand-held drum), the fiddle (violin) and the uilleann pipes, among others. Wondering where to start? There are some great traditional music pubs, including Peadar O’Donnell’s in Derry~Londonderry, which are known for exciting traditional music sessions. Matt Molloy’s in Westport, County Mayo has live traditional music every night of the week, as does the Cobblestone in Dublin city which humorously calls itself “A Drinking Pub With A Music Problem”. If you just can’t get enough of traditional music, follow the Belfast Traditional Music Trail, which takes you from performance to performance in bars across the city.

You can also catch traditional music performances at festivals across the island. Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is the largest annual festival of Irish music in the world. In 2024 it will take place in venues across Wexford town, County Wexford.

Dublin may be known as the home of U2, but Belfast, a UNESCO City of Music, has given the world Van Morrison, Two Door Cinema Club, and Snow Patrol. Famed for its brilliant atmosphere, it’s a great place to catch a music event. It’s always worth checking out what’s on at the Belfast Empire Music Hall, but you can also catch the Belsonic festival in June and the AVA Belfast festival at the end of May.

The music doesn’t stop there, though! There are loads of events featuring a variety of musical genres happening around the island of Ireland. Check out Sea Sessions in Bundoran, County Donegal where music from big names like Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah meets surfing, beach games and more. Spend a long weekend in Cork city at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival and enjoy a mixture of free and paid events from the biggest names in the jazz world. For opera lovers, listen to some of the world’s finest singers performing beautiful operatic works written by both well-known and rising composers at the Wexford Festival Opera.

Looking to 2025, a perfect way to banish the January blues is Trad Fest in Dublin city – a five-day festival set in gorgeous venues across Temple Bar. Expect a mixture of céilí band classics, folk and hip hop, as well as craft fairs and street parades.

Finally, if you’re looking to go celebrity-spotting, head to Grafton Street in Dublin city. It has seen its fair share of celebrities busking around Christmastime when the likes of Bono and Dermot Kennedy have put on impromptu performances. You never know when the next legendary performance might start!

Trad Fest in Temple Bar, Dublin city © Tourism Ireland
Trad Fest in Temple Bar, Dublin city © Tourism Ireland

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