Derry Halloween Witch
Derry Halloween Witch

October in Ireland: 18 Things to Do and See

Updated July 2023–October in Ireland is a good time to visit if you want to see the Emerald Isle on a budget.

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Airfares are cheaper and so is accommodation.

The lines to the country’s most popular destinations are also shorter, which will save you time and give you the chance to see more.

But just because it’s the off-season doesn’t mean that there’s less to do and see at this time of year.

For one, October is considered part of the autumn season and that means that you’ll get to see the beautiful fall foliage in many parts of the country.

Here are 18 things to do when you find yourself in Ireland during the month of October.

1. The Dublin Theatre Festival

If you plan to visit Dublin in October, you should sample the city’s artistic and cultural offerings.

Famous playwrights like Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, WB Yeats, John Millington Synge, and George Bernard Shaw all called Dublin home for a time.

The Dublin Theatre Festival, which runs from Sept. 28th to Oct. 15th, is a good example of the cultural richness of the city.

The festival typically includes hundreds of theater performances in many different venues across the city.

One of last year's notable performances included “Joyce’s Women” at the Abbey Theatre.

The play, which was written by Irish writer Edna O’Brien to mark the 100th anniversary of Joyce’s notable work Ulysses, gave voice to the women who were central in Joyce’s life.

The 2023 program is not yet available.

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2. Kinsale Gourmet Festival

There’s no denying that Kinsale has been a foodie haven for some time.

A visit to this colorful town on the County Cork coastline is evidence of that just by the sheer number of fabulous restaurants that line its streets.

Photo: Jenifoto for Getty Images.

If you’re a lover of good food, head to Kinsale for its annual Gourmet Festival.

The Mad Hatters Tea Party on Oct. 14th is a highlight of this popular event, with ticket holders gathering in Actons Hotel for a glass of bubbly before heading off on a walking tour led by Alice, Queen of Hearts, the March Hare, and the infamous Mad Hatter.

Expect to taste excellent cuisine along the way, with much it coming from fresh local produce and other farm-to-table ingredients.

Tickets are expected to go on sale during the summer of 2023.

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3. Derry Halloween

October in Ireland wouldn't be the same without a good Halloween celebration.

The great “Samhain gathering” in the city of Derry has grown over the years, making it Europe’s biggest Halloween festival.

For three nights beginning Oct. 28th, you can get into the spirit of Ireland’s ancient Halloween traditions, which incorporates the old pagan festival known as Samhain (pronounced “sow-in” like the female pig), which traditionally marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.

A fireworks display over the River Foyle is the culmination of the Derry Halloween Festival. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

Derry’s iconic 17th-century walls are central to the celebration. Expect to see them brought to life with various spooky, colorful characters and animations being projected throughout the city center.

Along the trail, hear tales from the past, walk near haunted windows and alleys and enjoy performances from local and international artists.

Celebrating Derry's Halloween festivities. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

At the city’s Guildhall, you’ll be transported back in time to a land of myths, legends, warriors, and witches. Of course, no festival is complete without music, food, and a parade at the end.

A full program of events will be available on the festival website soon.

4. Imagine Arts Festival

This 6-day festival in Waterford runs from Oct. 24-29th and includes a range of events that incorporate theater, music, comedy, the visual arts, dance, literature, film, and activities for children.

The Waterford Quays. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

It also includes The Waterford Writers Weekend, which showcases the best of Irish writing.

5. Enjoy Jazz in County Cork

October in Ireland means the opportunity to attend some great jazz festivals and two of them happen to be only a few miles apart in County Cork.

The Cork Jazz Festival is the largest in Europe. Photo courtesy Tourism Ireland.

The popular Guinness Cork Jazz Festival is set to begin on Oct. 26th with a range of local and international performers in the festival lineup.

This year's performers include Irish artist Sinead O'Brien, Andy Sheppard, harpist Brandee Younger, Karen Underwood, and more.

Performing at the Kinsale Jazz Fringe Festival. Photo: John Sheehan, Tourism Ireland.

The Guinness Kinsale Jazz Fringe Festival set to take place from Oct. 27th through Oct. 30th promises to be a more leisurely celebration of the popular music genre.

Events are being planned at some 20 venues throughout the town, and there will be a scary, ghoulish, and decisively Halloween feel about them too, the organizers say.

6. Footsteps in the Forest

Head to Slieve Gullion Forest Park in County Armagh, a popular spot for those who want to explore nature and this beautiful part of Northern Ireland.

Fairy houses in Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Co. Armagh. Photo: Nagalski

Footsteps in the Forest is a new Halloween-themed festival that is geared specifically to kids.

Expect to run into kidnapped dragons, mischievous witches, as well as elves, fairies, and druids as actors guide adventure-seekers through the forest in a theatrical tour in search of dragons and to help overcome Guillion's witch, The Cailleach Bheara.

Tickets for the guided tour are free but must be pre-booked. Email your request by heading to the Visit the Mourne Mountains website.

Visit the park from 6-10 pm between Oct. 25th and Oct. 30th to experience it all.

The rugged landscape of Slieve Gullion in County Armagh. Photo: Ron Murray, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11287006

If you can get there earlier in the day, the scenic 8-mile (10 km) drive around the slopes of Slieve Gullion (a Special Area of Conservation) is totally worth it and will give you spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

For the more adventurous, an 8.7-mile (14 km) walk can be completed by taking mountain paths, forest trails and country roads. Begin the trek in the main car park.

There’s also an Adventure Playpark and the Giant’s Lair children’s story trail for kids to enjoy.

The park is free to visit.

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7. Open House Dublin

Enjoy Ireland’s biggest architecture festival in Dublin over the weekend of Oct. 7-15.

Open House Dublin is a free festival of architecture with 100+ guided tours, films, exhibitions and events taking place across the city.

The Casino Model Railway Museum in the Dublin suburbs. Photo: Shannon Heritage DAC for Failte Ireland.

Learn about the architectural details in some of Ireland's most beautiful buildings, including  Áras an Uachtaráin, the home of the president of Ireland; Farmleigh House, which is located in Phoenix Park and was once the home of the Guinness family before it was purchased by the Irish government; The Casino Model Railway Museum described as one of the finest thatched cottages in Ireland; the Chester Beatty Clock Tower Building, and much more.

Aras an Uachtarain, residence of the Irish President, Phoenix Park, Dublin. Photo: Government of Ireland National Monuments Service Photographic Unit.

Tours are all free and are provided by professionals, including architects, planners, and students of archaeology, as well as those who live in or use the buildings.

A series of lectures will also be available over the weekend, in addition to guided walking, cycling, and Luas tours, exploring Dublin’s architecture along its commuter routes.

Keep an eye on the website for details of the 2023 program of events.

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8. Baboró: International Arts Festival for Children

If you’re in Galway City from Oct. 13th through the 22nd, check out this unique festival specifically geared toward kids.

two children by a red door October in Ireland
Photo courtesy of Baboro International Arts Festival for Children Facebook.

A complete program of events is expected to be published on the website during the summer.

9. Galway Comedy Festival

There is always a lot to do in Galway City at any time of year.

If you’re looking for a fun night out, why not attend the Galway Comedy Festival, the largest in Europe?

Expect to see up to 100 performers at this year’s event, which will be held from Oct. 24th-30th.

a person performing on stage October in Ireland
Popular Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan performs at the Galway Comedy Festival. Photo: Xadacka Photography.

Some of the performers already announced include Reginald D. Hunter, an American stand-up comedian; John Colleary, a well-known Irish comedian; Serena Terry, who is known for her Mammy Banter skits, and “Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience.”

10. The Quite Man Cottage

October is the perfect time to visit the Quiet Man Cottage Museum located in Cong, County Mayo.

The white-washed cottage/museum, which closes for the season on Oct. 31st, is the exact replica of the “White-O-Mornin” cottage from the iconic movie.

a tree beside a thatched cottage October in Ireland
Spend part of your October in Ireland vacation at The Quiet Man Cottage in Cong, Co. Mayo. Photo: Stephen Duffy, Failte Ireland.

Inside you’ll discover all the furnishings, artifacts, and costumes used in the making of the film.

They include Sean Thornton’s four-poster bed, Mary Kate’s piano, the tandem bicycle, as well as the tables and chairs that were part of the movie set.

You’ll also find the largest collection of Irish newspaper articles related to the making of the 1951 film, all sourced from local library archives.

a bronze statue of a man and a woman October in Ireland
A bronze statue of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara is located in the village of Cong where the film was shot. Add this attraction to your October in Ireland vacation itinerary. Photo: Michelle Fahy, Failte Ireland.

You can even watch the film while sitting inside the cottage, a thrilling experience for die heart fans of the movie.

Walking tours and chauffeur-driven tours of the Quiet Man locations are available.

Take a Walking Tour of The Quiet Man Film Locations in Cong

11. Explore West Cork on the Ring of Beara Drive

This drive located in West Cork’s Beara Peninsula, is another piece of wild, beautiful countryside in Ireland that you should include in your Ireland road trip itinerary.

The route runs through Counties Cork and Kerry but is less well-known than the neighboring Ring of Kerry.

The route, about 130 kilometers (80 miles), is doable in a day and can be done in about 4 hours.

houses near the ocean how to get to Ireland
Allihies on the Beara Peninsula. Photo: Getty Images.

You can begin the Ring of Beara in either Glengarrif in County Cork or in Kenmare, County Kerry.

Perhaps one of the most stunning parts of the Ring of Beara is the Healy Pass, which winds its way through some of County Cork’s most isolated countryside and up and across the Caha Mountains, listed as a Special Area of Conservation.

A road through the Healy Pass in West Cork. Photo: John Gollup, Getty Images Signature.

The road itself was constructed in 1847 at the height of Ireland’s Great Famine as a way to provide work for the poor, starving local people. It was named after Timothy Healy, the first governor general of the Irish Free State.

If you’re looking for Atlantic views off the Ring of Beara, you’ll find them in Eyeries and in Allihies.

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12. Explore Dublin Bay in October

Dublin Bay in October is the perfect place to stretch your legs and see what’s outside the city.

Walking the cliff path in Howth is a great activity to do during your October in Ireland vacation. Photo courtesy Failte Ireland.

Take a hiking tour with Howth Adventures for stunning views of the bay or a panoramic e-bike tour of the region, also with Howth Adventures. You could also take a stroll through the pretty seaside communities of Dalkey and Killiney, home to a number of Irish celebrities.

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13. Hang out in Dublin’s Temple Bar

Despite it being a tourist trap, the Temple Bar section of the city is still a huge draw for many.

a pub with a red facade October in Ireland
The popular Temple Bar pub in Dublin is a great place to enjoy a pint and the Irish craic during your October in Ireland vacation. Photo courtesy DRTA for Tourism Ireland.

The street is known for its music-filled pubs and talented buskers, and in October, it won't be teeming with tourists like it is during the summer months.

Call into the Icon Factory, an artist’s co-operative, sample some foodie delights at the Temple Bar Food Market and step into the past with a drink in the 19th-century Victorian heritage bar known as The Palace Bar.

14. Dingle Food and Wine Festival

This County Kerry culinary extravaganza takes place this year between Sept. 29th and Oct. 2nd.

If you plan to visit the Dingle Peninsula, be sure to hop on the “Taste Trail,” which will give you the chance to sample food from a variety of Dingle’s excellent restaurants and bars.

logo Dingle Food Festival
Image courtesy of Failte Ireland.

Other highlights of the festival include cookery demonstrations, over 50 market stalls, workshops, street entertainment, wine tastings, children’s events, and more.

Like its neighbor Kinsale to the east, Dingle is known for its culinary reputation.

colorful buildings in a town October in Ireland
October in Ireland means attending festivals like the food festival that Dingle puts on each year. Photo: Espiegle, Getty Images Signature.

There are at least three dozen restaurants there, as well as a host of pubs selling craft beers and whiskeys, together with a culinary school, and a distillery.

Some of the popular ones on the Taste Trail include James Long’s Bar & Restaurant, the Land to Sea RestaurantLord Baker’s, and Fenton’s of Dingle, among others.

15. The Patrick Kavanagh Weekend

While no official date has been announced as of yet, this popular festival celebrating the life and work of the famous Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh is expected to take place at the end of September/beginning of October again this year.

a church in a cemetery October in Ireland
The Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan puts on an excellent weekend of events for locals and visitors spending October in Ireland. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

The three-day event usually includes a full program of lectures, talks and discussions, workshops, poetry readings, and art exhibitions, all at the Patrick Kavanagh Centre.

Music, ceilis, and sean nós dancing are also offered, in addition to tours of the surrounding area.

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16. Sligo Live

This popular annual festival held in Sligo town will take place this year from Oct. 27th to Nov. 5th and celebrates traditional, roots, and acoustic music and the connections between Sligo and musicians abroad.


The bond with New York’s trad musicians is strong in Sligo given that one of the county’s musical greats, Michael Coleman, emigrated to New York in the 1920s where he went on to record under various record labels.

There is also a link between Sligo and Scotland, namely Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival, which presents a Scottish program each year.

Some of the festival’s headlining events this year include a performance by The Waterboys, a British-Irish folk rock band formed in London in 1983 by Scottish musician and songwriter Mike Scott.

17. Kerry International Film Festival

If you're visiting County Kerry in October, be sure to check out the Kerry International Film Festival, which runs from Oct. 19th to the 22nd.

Actress Jane Seymour at the Kerry International Film Festival. Photo: Kerry International Film Festival Facebook.

The festival celebrates its 24th edition year, with a series of venues in Killarney and elsewhere.

Last year's event included over 30+ events, including a curated program of short films, family-friendly screenings, the best in new Irish cinema, and a host of industry-expert talks throughout the weekend.

The 2023 program is not online yet, but check the website during the summer for updates.

18. Explore Lough Gur, County Limerick

While Newgrange in County Meath is by far the more popular of Ireland’s ancient archaeological sites, Lough Gur in the heart of the County Limerick countryside is also worth a visit.

Lough Gur in Co. Limerick. Photo: Shannon Development for Tourism Ireland.

There is plenty of evidence that humans have been living around Lough Gur since about 3,000 B.C.

The Grange Stone Circle, which is the largest one of its kind in Ireland, as well as a dolmen, are located near the lake, in addition to the remains of at least three crannogs.

Stone Age houses and a number of ring forts also point to an ancient civilization that survived and thrived here.

In addition to its archaeological significance, Lough Gur has also been designated a Wildfowl Sanctuary by the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service and you will see a wide variety of birds in the area, including gulls, songbirds, crows, dragonflies, and more.

A glimpse of the heritage center at Lough Gur in Co. Limerick. Photo: Felikss Veilands for Getty Images.

Tourists who visit Lough Gur can first stop at the award-winning Heritage Centre. The center’s exhibits tell the story of Lough Gur through audio guides, interactive touchscreens, and more.

Curious to know what to expect from a visit to Lough Gur? You can now take a virtual tour of the site and listen to experts talk about the significance of the area.

Does October in Ireland seem like a good time for a vacation? Let me know in the comments below.

colette

Colette is a County Sligo native who created Ireland on a Budget to provide her readers with money-saving tips on how to get to Ireland and then save even more when they're there. She's a professional copywriter who lives in the New York area with her husband and two children.

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