With festivals galore and a restless, rugged landscape that is best suited to bracing beach walks and cosy fireside nights spent in traditional village pubs, Ireland is the perfect destination for an unforgettable fall or winter break. From whale watching and whiskey tasting to an epic winter solstice experience that will stay with you forever, here are just some of the activities and events you can enjoy when you visit Ireland in the fall and winter.
1. Take a bracing walk to Mizen Head
Blow away the cobwebs and experience breath-taking Atlantic Ocean views when you visit Ireland’s most southwesterly point, Mizen Head. Breathe in the salty sea air as you cross Mizen’s iconic arched bridge to visit the Signal Station. Complete your day out with a bracing walk across the Blue Flag beach at nearby Barley Cove, followed by a hearty lunch at local favourite, O’ Sullivan’s Bar in Crookhaven.
2. Enjoy a night of Traditional Music in Doolin
It is known as the hub of Ireland’s traditional music scene, and it’s safe to say there is no better place for an evening of Craic agus Ceoil than the village of Doolin in County Clare. Check out McGann’s for great food, great Guinness, and traditional music led by local musicians almost every night of the week. Top Tip: Visit Doolin in February for the Micho Russell Festival Weekend.
3. Take in a Music Festival or Two
Beat the winter blues with a music festival or two when you spend this winter or fall in Ireland. If music is your thing, then Ireland is the place for you, with fall and winter festivals galore. Top music picks include Cork’s famous Guinness Jazz Weekend, which takes place over the October Bank Holiday Weekend, along with Cork Folk Festival, which promises to bring a ‘feast of folk’ to the city.
4. Discover the wonders of the Wild Atlantic Way
The untamed natural beauties of Ireland’s popular coastal route, the Wild Atlantic Way, are perfectly suited to a windswept winter in Ireland. Start your day with breakfast at popular local eatery Mick & Jimmy’s in Kenmare, before road-tripping to the many wonders of the enchanting Ring of Kerry. Continue on to County Clare to experience the famous Cliffs of Moher and The Burren.
5. Take part in the Púca Halloween Festival
For a Halloween experience with a difference, pay a visit to one of Ireland’s newest festivals, the Púca Halloween Festival, which takes place from October 31st to November 2nd in the towns of Athboy, Drogheda and Trim. This festival, which promises to celebrate Halloween’s Irish origins, will bring the Celtic traditions of Halloween to life with a Samhain procession and lighting of the Samhain fires.
6. Enjoy a spot of Whale Watching in West Cork
Grab your binoculars and wrap up warm when you hit the West Cork coastline for a spot of whale watching. Whale Watch West Cork runs a popular tour out of Baltimore Harbour, with a refreshment break at Cape Clear Island along the way. Along with Minke Whales and Fin Whales, lucky whale watchers may enjoy a sighting of the mighty Humpback Whale during the fall and winter months.
7. Experience the Winter Solstice at Newgrange
No trip to Ireland in the winter is complete without paying a visit to the ancient site of Newgrange in County Meath to experience a winter solstice like no other. Entry to the inner chamber at Newgrange is limited to just over one-hundred lucky people, but everyone else is welcome to stand outside the Newgrange monument to witness this December 18th-23rd sunrise spectacle.
8. Spend a spooky night in Dublin
Make your stay in Dublin one that’s a little bit different from the rest with a spooky adventure you’ll never forget. Discover Glasnevin Cemetery’s disturbing grave-robbing past, take a walk to one of Ireland’s scariest places, the notorious Hellfire Club in the Dublin Mountains, and pay a visit to Malahide Castle at Halloween, when you just might encounter one of Malahide’s resident ghosts!
9. Feast on Ireland’s Finest Food
A gourmet’s delight awaits when you visit one of Ireland’s many food festivals during your fall or winter break. Walk the Medieval Mile and visit the 18th Century Hole in the Wall pub, when you visit the Kilkenny Festival of Food in late October. If you are paying a visit to Dublin in late November, Ireland’s premier food festival, Taste of Dublin, is the place to be.
10. Cruise along the Causeway Coastal Route
For a great day out in Northern Ireland, look no further than a journey along the Causeway Coastal Route, home to such attractions as Dunluce Castle and the world-famous Giant’s Causeway. Feel the wind in your hair as you take a brisk walk across the sands of Bushfoot Beach, after which a warming whiskey-tasting at nearby Bushmills, Ireland’s oldest working distillery, is highly recommended.
A truly great place to visit at any time of the year, Ireland takes on a magical quality all of its very own in the fall and winter months, when the tourist tribes have departed, the beaches are peaceful, and the roads quiet. If you are looking for a vacation with a difference, one that embraces quiet moments and fun times in equal amounts, then visit Ireland when the leaves turn from green to golden, for a vacation you’ll never forget.
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