There’s always lots happening in North Mayo, West Sligo and surrounds, be it festivals, sporting events, live performances and more. Below we’ve taken eight of the best local festivals in Ballina and North Mayo taking place throughout 2019 (plus we’ve cheated and added some more at the end!), and there is lots more to explore on our What’s On page. Get the diary out and start planning your visit to North Mayo!
1. Mayo International Choral Festival – 22nd-26th May 2019
Now in its eighth year, the Mayo International Choral Festival takes the form of several international male/female adult choirs travelling to Mayo at the end of May each year, to partake on a competitive and non-competitive basis. Their visits include a number of evening and daily performances county-wide, tours of Mayo and a gala concert on Saturday night. The theme of the festival is to allow choirs to meet with other choirs, relax and enjoy a great weekend in the beautiful West of Ireland.
The festival, with its extensive syllabus has the support of many Mayo choral groups and local organisations in the different towns, to coordinate concerts by the visiting choirs, and to act as their hosts. The festival committee have also welcomed and facilitated concerts with visiting choirs outside of the festival dates, from England, Canada, Netherlands, USA and Wales, and choirs are encouraged to visit sthe many beautiful areas around Mayo during their visit and to experience the friendliness of people from Mayo.
2. Ballina Street Festival – 10th-14th July 2019
As of May 3, 2019, Ballina Salmon Festival has been postponed for 2019, and is set to resume in 2020. Read their statement here.
Meanwhile, Ballina Chamber of Commerce has announced ‘Ballina Street Festival’ which is set to run from 10th – 14th July.
They are set to announce their programme imminently, but some of the old Ballina festival stalwarts of Heritage Day, Picnic in the Park and the Fireworks extravaganza are set to continue, as well as some new events.
Ballina Chamber of Commerce wishes to acknowledge the support of the Ballina Salmon Festival in this endeavour for 2019, and also the support of their Ballina Chamber members, the business community of Ballina.
More information is available by calling Ballina Tourist Office at 096 72800 aore emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Crossmolina’s Nephin Festival – July 17th-21st 2019
This festival has friends and family at the heart of its celebrations throughout the week of the Festival which runs from 17th – 21st July 2019 and it always brings something new, unexpected and a little bit off the wall! You can expect to enjoy live music gigs, comedy shows, guided walks, dancing, countless children’s events, heritage, sheep-shearing (yes), street entertainment, the Mayo North Old Engine Vintage and Tractor Rally, sports events and much much more . . . this year, the focus will be on Nephin to celebrate the new walking trail recently developed on the mountain.
This festival encapsulates community in everything it does with an enthusiastic and imaginative committee bringing new ideas to the table every year. It’s a time when the Crossmolina diaspora return in their droves, and the 2019 festival promises to be another fun-filled festival with surprises, fun and craic to be had with friends old and new.
The Crossmolina Festival crew are also responsible for the St Patrick’s Day Festival of Lights – a multi-coloured night parade and Nightmare on Church Street – an immersive Halloween Experience.
4. Enniscrone Black Pig Festival – 25th-29th July 2019
This community-run festival set to the back drop of the magnificent Enniscrone beach takes place from 25th – 29th July 2019.
Running now for a number of years the festival uses its stunning sea and beach location to perfection to accommodate many activities, from SUP races, sandcastle-building competitions, live music, beach yoga, and lots more. Enniscrone has everything you need for a fantastic week away – lovely hotels, cosy pubs, excellent food and of course, the stunning strand and the dramatic cliff walk. A highlight of the Black Pig Festival, which is entirely volunteer-led is always the breath-taking fireworks display over the sea lighting up the bay and village.
Come once and you’ll return every year … and of course, you’ll get to hear the legend of the Black Pig!
5. Ballina Fringe Festival – 6th-15th October 2019
Following on from the success of 2018, this festival in its second year is set to excite, ignite and promote the Arts in Ballina and North Mayo and bring art to new audiences through live music, poetry, art, theatre and street art.
Running this year from 6th to 13th October, Ballina Fringe Festival celebrates Ballina and North Mayo’s proud heritage in the arts; the magnificent back drop of our coastline, landscape and rugged grounds has being the muse and inspiration for many artists over the year.
The Ballina Fringe Festival, one of the newest festivals in Ballina and North Mayo celebrates these creations through performance, exhibition, music and more. A highlight of last year’s Festival was the breath-taking exhibition from Donald Teskey “Crossing the Firebreak” hosted in the Ballina Civic offices and this year, an exhibition by renowned Irish artist Mick O’Dea is set to be one of the highlights.
6. Foxford Traditional Weekend – 16th-20th October 2019
This festival in Foxford, a town steeped in music, is going from strength to strength every year. In its fifth year, a warm welcome awaits you this October for a weekend of traditional Irish music, song and dance for all ages with concerts, workshops, masterclasses, lots of music sessions, sean-nós dance competitions, and lots, lots more.
The aim of the festival is to highlight the local culture of Irish music, song and dance and make it accessible to everyone, in a fun environment where all ages can learn and further their skills at the workshops or just come along and soak up the atmosphere.
The success of the weekend comes from the wealth of local and visiting musicians and performers, and their longstanding efforts to pass on and display their skills and knowledge of Irish music, song, dance and storytelling. The Foxford area is home to many musicians and tutors who are known not only countrywide, but worldwide, and we are lucky enough to have many of them teaching and performing over the weekend.
7. Mayo Dark Sky Festival – 1st-3rd November 2019
This is a very special event, and not just for those who like gazing at the stars. Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Park is in Co. Mayo. It showcases some of the darkest, most pristine skies in the world. The Mayo Dark Sky Park is nestled between the Nephin Mountain Range and the Atlantic coastline and it extends across an area of 150km, encompassing Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park.
The festival takes places over three areas, Ballycroy, Newport and Mulranny with a free shuttle service bus between events. During the festival you can expect to experience events themed around astronomy, science, culture, ecology and fun! A highlight of last year’s events was the many workshops and talks aimed at informing the public about astronomy, the night sky and exploring the Mayo Dark Skies Park. Last year’s festival was a massive success and while the weather impeded on one or two events, overall the highlight of the festival had to be the wide variety of events from exhibitions, talks and walks catering for all ages.
Mayo Dark Sky Festival is a special festival that you wouldn’t find everywhere; on a clear night in Mayo, we can see over 4,500 stars, along with other planets in our solar system, The Milky Way and even meteor showers with the naked eye.
8. Swinford 250 & More Celebrations – all throughout 2019!
Less a single festival, and more of a year-long celebration of Swinford’s history and heritage, Swinford 250 is like a ‘Gathering’ for Swinford people locally, nationally and worldwide. Throughout 2019, Swinford will be celebrating 250 and more years as a bustling market town in the heart of East Mayo. Drenched in history, the town has a rich cultural heritage dating back to 1769 and beyond. Located in the heart of East Mayo just 15 minutes from Ireland West Airport Knock, Swinford is a natural place to base yourself while visiting the beautiful West of Ireland.
A varied programme of cultural events will run throughout 2019 and will include events like the 35th Siamsa Sráide Festival, the Connachht Fleadh Cheoil, St Patrick’s Weekend Festival, the Inaugural Mayo History Convention, Swinford Agricultural Show, Féile na Samhna and the Christmas festival. There will also be weekly traditional music sessions, children’s events, regular historical talks and walks, music & literary events and ruunions and gatherings throughout the year.
9. And there’s more!
Okay, we know we said eight, but there are so many great festivals in Ballina and North Mayo that we had to cheat and include a few more. Make sure to get these dates in your diary too, and we’ll have full updates on each up on our website shortly!
St Patrick’s Festival of Lights, Crossmolina – 17th March 2019
A night-time St Patrick’s Day Parade spectacle with illuminated floats, vehicles and people!
Mayo Day – 4th May 2019
A county-wide and worldwide celebration of our Mayo-ness for Mayo people everywhere, led by Mayo County Council and Mayo.ie.
Fleadh Cheoil Mhaigh Eo – 6th-12th May 2019
A week-long festival of events in Foxford, including dancing and music competitions.
North Mayo Summer School, Killala – 8th-12th July 2019
A celebration of Irish music, with classes and tutorials for children of all ages.
Healyfest Music Festival Ballycastle – August Bank Holiday Weekend
As they put it themselves – “Killinaskully meets Woodstock”! From Hank to Hendrix, you’ll find it all here. Plus barrels of craic.
Foxford Riverfest – 23rd-24th August 2019
A wonderful celebration of the River Moy and all its treasures. Events for all ages.
Other Voices Ballina- 27th-28th September 2019
Subject to funding, this incredible celebration of Irish music and culture returns to Ballina in September. Updates coming soon.
Food Fleadh Ballina – 27th-28th September 2019
Running alongside Other Voices, in the historic Military Barracks, this is a fun-filled celebration of local and artisan food and drink. Skip breakfast!
Samhain Abhainn – Ballina’s Halloween Festival – October/November 2019
With the Scary Woods Walk and numerous terrifying events for children and adults in store, this is a frightfest not to be missed.
Ballina One Act Drama Festival – 1st-3rd November 2019
Three nights of three plays, one act each, With visiting drama clubs from all around Ireland and the now legendary festival club, this fantastic festival is a treat for drama lovers everywhere.
It’s also worth checking out is the year-round programme of events in Ballina’s Jackie Clarke Collection, Ballina Arts Centre, and the 2019 cultural programme in the North Mayo Heritage Centre.
Keep an eye out for our Top Sporting Events, coming soon!
For more information on festivals and events in North Mayo/West Sligo visit the What’s On section of our website.