Each year, more than ten festivals take place across the towns and villages of the region, including:
FEAST – The East Cork Food & Drink Festival
Running for over a decade, what was once known as the ‘Midleton Food Festival’ is now FEAST, the East Cork Food & Drink Festival – and, boy, does it live up to its name. Held in September each year, the event began as a corridor of stalls on the town’s Main Street but, due to reputation and an excellent organising committee, it has grown to encapsulate all aspects and areas of Midleton. Apart from being able to sample and purchase top-quality local produce including cheese, jams, sauces, curries, breads, chocolate, cakes (and chocolate cakes!), pâté, fish, meats, burgers, honey, crisps and beers, FEAST also offers live street entertainment, with jugglers, magicians, puppet shows and musicians. Taking place on a Saturday, FEAST draws thousands of visitors to the town of Midleton who, when they leave, are certainly feeling full and fulfilled! For more information on FEAST, visit www.feastcork.ie
Seafood & Shanty Festival, Ballycotton
The Seafood & Shanty Festival runs each June Bank Holiday Weekend and sees the village of Ballycotton burst into Bank Holiday life, with live music and entertainment on the pier. There’s a Crab Derby, shanty buskers, story-telling and plenty of traditional, free, old-fashioned family fun on offer, alongside cookery demonstrations and, usually, a visit by several well-known famous faces. For more information find Seafood & Shanty Ballycotton Family Pier Day on Facebook.
Midleton Arts Festival – a mid-May celebration of the arts
The Midleton Arts Festival, held in mid-May each year, is a vibrant and welcoming weekend which aims to promote, express and celebrate creativity. The workshops and events offer a chance to join in with the art that happens locally throughout the year. There are opportunities to try new art forms and be involved with others in the community, as well as things to do and see that will inspire and enrich. The town’s main street comes alive with art-filled shop fronts, impromptu performances, busking, open studios and film installations. The festival is a highly enjoyable experience whether you are participating actively or just chilling out listening, watching or exploring. The festival features all facets of the arts for all ages including film, a creative playground, fine art, sculpture, craft, music, dance, literature, poetry and drama. Midleton Arts Festival aims to promote and present art as a catalyst for change and growth and as a wonderful way to explore, share, reflect and express yourself. For more information, visit midletonartsfestival.com
Brave individuals may find that Youghal’s annual Hallowe’en festival, aptly titled Youghaloween, is a chillingly good way to spend the October Bank Holiday weekend. This unique festival combines the old Celtic ways of celebrating Samhain, with the new. The town of Youghal is steeped in legends and stories of banshees, witches, “The Woman of the Water”, ghosts, Knights Templars and much more. So, are you brave enough to visit? For more information, visit www.facebook.com/pg/YoughalSpooktacular
Youghal Food & Mackerel Festival
Held in August each year, the Youghal Food & Mackerel guarantees culinary delights and plenty of catches of the day! This three-day event combines fun, food and festivities in the open air, with events taking place throughout the town, including the prestigious (and competitive) Glamorous Granny competition. The festival also celebrates Youghal’s long fishing history, with visitors invited to try their own hand at hooking a mackerel! For more information, visit www.facebook.com/pg/MackerelFestivalYoughal
Youghal’s Queen of the Sea
The Queen of the Sea Festival is held each July in the town of Youghal. It’s a fun, family event with countless activities and attractions. Focusing on Youghal’s maritime history and continuing culture, the Queen of the Sea Festival features a Crab Catching Competition, Coast Guard Sea Safety Demonstrations and, of course, the judging and crowning of the Queen of the Sea herself. Stick around after the new queen has been announced to enjoy a spectacular fireworks display. For more information, visit www.qots.ie
CAFE (Cobh Arts Festival Event)
The Cobh Readers & Writers-organised CAFE (Cobh Arts Festival Event) is paradise for a patron of the arts, replete with a unique mix of readings, discussions, comedy, theatre, music, art, cinema and chat in one of Ireland’s most historic towns. Taking place in April / May, the festival combines the best of Cobh culture with literary visitors from further afield, sharing their knowledge at the likes of Cobh Library and the Sirius Arts Centre. For more information, visit www.visitcobh.com
Cobh International Ukulele Festival
Taking place each year at the end of May, the Cobh International Ukulele Festival is one of East Cork’s newest fun filled ways to spend your weekend – but it’s already garnering a huge following, both locally and in the form of music-lovers across the country, and from abroad too. This weekend is jam-packed full of craic, song and friendship with, of course, plenty of ukulele players making themselves heard. So, why not pop along – there’s no strings attached (except for the ones on the ukuleles!) For more information, visit www.cobhukulelefestival.ie
Youghal Medieval Festival
Held in August, the Youghal Medieval Festival is for more than one knight only! Held in the open air, but with plenty of indoor activities too, it’s the perfect opportunity to step back in time, with serfs, knights, jousting, falconry and historical re-enactments.
Youghal Moby Dick Festival
Celebrating the filming of the 1956 movie ‘Moby Dick’ in the town of Youghal, you’re in for a whale of a time at this popular annual festival. This weekend-long festival, held in June, incorporates plenty of family fun, as well as sharing some trivia about Youghal’s brush with Hollywood royalty in the form of Gregory Peck, Orson Welles & Co. Events take place across the town, with highlights including the Duck Race, the Moby Dick Open Air Market and a Teddy Bears’ Picnic too. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/YoughalsMobyDickFestival/
St. Patrick’s Day – East Cork on parade
While not technically a festival, East Cork is determined to ‘be seen and wear the green’ on March 17th for the area’s numerous St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Carrigtwohill, Cobh, Lisgoold, Midleton, Whitegate and Yougal all hold their own independent parades, with many parade participants travelling from village to village. Needless to say, if you’re here that day, except a warm East Cork welcome – and a cold pint too!