Kerry is a not just a scenic destination, but a cultural centre, attracting thousands of visitors to the many festivals held throughout the year.
Why not incorporate one or more of these cultural highlights into your #MeetInKerry programme or time your event so that delegates can include attending a festival or event as part of their individual pre or post itineraries. Some of the biggest attractions include:
The Ring of Kerry Cycle Route is in an area known throughout the world for its archaeological treasures, breath-taking scenery and charming hospitality. The route travels along quiet country roads where possible and passes through all the main towns and villages along the way. The entire journey is 216km (134 miles) with 74km of the route on the main road and 143km of the route on minor roads. The route should ideally be cycled in a clockwise direction for safety and spread over a week in order to fully appreciate the relaxing atmosphere and magnificent variety of scenery.
The Ring of Kerry Charity Cycling Event has been running for over 30 years and is the biggest one-day charity event in South West Ireland. It attracts thousands of leisure cyclists who experience a fun and rewarding day’s cycling, completing 112 miles of the spectacular Ring of Kerry, while at the same time fundraising for worthy Kerry based charities. To date the Ring of Kerry Cycle has raised over €10.2 million for Kerry charities.
The “Rose of Tralee” international festival celebrated among Irish communities all over the world. As one of Ireland’s largest and longest running festivals, it will celebrate 60 years in 2019, the heart of the festival is the selection of the “Rose of Tralee,” which brings young women of Irish descent from around the world to County Kerry, Ireland for a global celebration of Irish culture. The festival also includes street entertainment, carnival, live concerts, theatre, circus, markets, funfair, fireworks and Rose Parades. The winner is selected based on her personality and should be a good role model for the festival and for Ireland during her travels around the world. It is not a beauty pageant and the participants (Roses) are not judged on their appearance, but on their personality and suitability to serve as ambassadors for the festival and Ireland. The festival bills itself as a celebration of the”aspirations, ambitions, intellect, social responsibility and Irish heritage” of modern young women. The winners over the past 10 years truly demonstrate the global appeal of the event with Australia, America, United Kingdom, Luxembourg and Ireland represented.
Bike Fest Killarney is an international motorcycle festival that takes places annually on the first weekend in June. It is Ireland’s largest free open biker festival – all makes, models and manner of bikes are welcome! From its roots in 2007 with only 1000 attendees, it now attracts around 45,000 people, including 10,000 bikers who make their way to Killarney for a weekend that offers something special both to biking enthusiasts and those who couldn’t tell a Harley Davison from a tricycle. This is a festival that continues to grow year upon year.
The best of Irish Craft Brewers descend upon Killarney in late May each year and bring with them kegs of Craft Beers & Cider as well the best of Irish Artisan Gins & Whiskeys to get your taste buds tingling! Learn the Beer 101 from the best in the business with brewing demonstrations, tastings; meet the brewers, beer & food pairing classes and a whole lot more. And because craft isn’t limited to beer there are a tantalizing selection of home brewed whiskey, gin and cider to sample! Browse the stalls, enjoy a masterclass or two and soak up the festive atmosphere and live music. Beer music and food, three of the best combinations outside of barley, hops and yeasts!
Several times each year, Adventure enthusiasts from all corners of the world descend on Kerry, Ireland’s adventure capital to participate in the Killarney Kenmare and Dingle Adventure Races Now established as some of the biggest adventure races in Ireland, over 2,500 brave adventurers compete in an adrenalin packed day of adventure by running, cycling and kayaking across some of the most dramatic and breath-taking scenery in Ireland. It’s not just for the grizzly hard-core adventurers as there are three different routes – 27km, 60km and 70km to suit all levels of fitness. Competitors enter individually or as a relay team. Competitors and spectators experience a festival-like atmosphere, music, food, kids’ adventure race and after party not to be missed. Each competitor receives a customised finisher medal and goody bag. This is one adventure not to be missed!
Ireland is world renowned for its horses and Kerry boasts not one but two horse racing superb horse racing tracks, each of which is unique and hosts events throughout the year. The first races in Listowel Race Course took place in 1858 and to this day, over 160 years later, Harvest Race Week in September is attended by approximately 90,000 people. In turn, Killarney Racecourse is over 80 years old and is considered Ireland’s Most Scenic Racecourse and possibly the world’s. With the magnificent McGuillycuddy Reeks, Lakes of Killarney and Ross Castle providing the backdrop, the view as the horses pass the finishing line can only be described as breath-taking. For the past 80 years Killarney has hosted 11 days of racing split over three Summer Festivals. Horse racing in Kerry is a major event and locals and visitors alike flock to enjoy the horses, the races, the festivities, the music and of course… the craic.
Puck Fair in Irish “As Gaeilge: Aonach an Phoic,” meaning “Fair of the He-Goat”, ‘poc’ being the Irish for a male goat, is Ireland’s oldest traditional festival, at over 400 years old. It is the only festival in the world where a wild mountain goat is crowned king. The festival, which runs from August 10th to 12th, attracts approx. 80,000 visitors annually.
Beyond these events, Kerry is famous for its entertainment, from live Irish music performed in bars and on the streets to cultural musical theatre.
The Celtic Steps show runs from April through October annually in Killarney. Born from an idea to showcase Ireland’s traditional music it is a song and dance performance that portrays the music Kerry and the songs of Ireland’s history. The evening takes the audience from traditional Irish dancing of the Hornpipe at the old thatched cottage half-door and the polka set at the local crossroads, to the phenomenon that is Irish dancing world-wide today. Rather than produce this, in a story, in chronological order down through years, Celtic Steps has mixed music, songs & dance in a unique blend to let you experience the spectacular that is our Irish cultural tradition.
Also located in Killarney, the Gaelic Roots show features singers, harpists, the Gaelic Roots band and some of the world’s best Irish dancers, who have toured with Riverdance and Michael Flatley’s Celtic Tiger. The show is based around the music and singing more so than Celtic Steps, which is more dancing focused.
Located in Tralee, Siamsa Tíre is the home of the National Folk Theatre of Ireland. It is the only theatre company in Ireland dedicated to the preservation and development of the Irish arts and is one of Ireland’s busiest theatres and arts centre. From May to September it presents authentic Irish music, song and dance in folk theatre productions. Its’ professional cast of performers are all trained in the Siamsa Tíre style specific to Kerry, and include international champion dancers, musicians, singers and theatre performers. These unique productions bring Irish traditions, culture, folklore and heritage of old to life, showcasing and celebrating the best of Irish music, song, dance and dramatic storytelling. Thousands of visitors from all over the world enjoy this premier Irish cultural experience and include it as one of the highlights of their trip to Ireland. There is an energy, a wildness, a passion about these performances, combining the best of traditional arts to create a memorable and emotional experience for visitors. The Siamsa Tíre gallery spaces also display the work of artists from Ireland and abroad as well as complementing the work of the National Folk Theatre during its repertory season.