A year round calendar of festivals, events and cultural activities are on offer in Wexford meaning you will never be short of something entertaining to see and do.
The Irish America Festival happens each July 4th, celebrating Wexford’s special US connections as John F Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, hailed from New Ross, Co. Wexford. The festival celebrates the special connection between the US and Wexford, and is Ireland’s official July 4th celebrations. There is a full programme of events for all the family in New Ross including a fireworks display, music on the quayside, festival busking competition, pirate festival, declaration of independence and al fresco dining on South Street.
Wexford Fringe Festival is an annual open-access arts festival which runs in parallel to Wexford Opera Festival, offering an eclectic mix of over 300 events over 17 days including cabaret, comedy, circus, dance, film, theatre, puppetry, music, and visual art, many of which are free to attend.
Artists from around Ireland and further afield participate alongside home-grown talent, as the Wexford Fringe Festival is embraced across the entire town with over 300 events staged in pop up venues as well as established venues such as theatres, hotels, art galleries, cafes and civic buildings.
As part of the Wexford Fringe Festival, Clayton Whites Hotel hosts an annually Art & Craft Exhibition, showcasing the very best independent artists and craftspeople.
Festival highlights include:
St. Patricks Day
Parades are held in Wexford town, New Ross, Enniscorthy and Gorey to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. The 2016 Wexford Town Saint Patrick’s Day parade was one of the biggest yet, with over 130 groups and floats taking part in the festivities. Wexford is also home to one of Ireland’s most unique St. Patrick’s Day parades, the St Patrick’s Day Beach Parade in Duncannon. This event is unique as it is Ireland’s only parade to be held on the beach.
The Gorey 3-Day
Established in 1966, The Gorey 3-Day is one of the most prominent bike races on the Irish calendar, with some now famous riders and winners such as Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche.
Wexford Half Marathon or 10k
Renowned for its quality course, friendliness and fun atmosphere, the Wexford Half Marathon or 10k is a must do race for all runners. Starting in Wexford town and then winding through the surrounding countryside, this record breaking course will have you well on your way to a PB!
Hooked on the Sea
Hooked on the Sea is a fun filled weekend of activities on the stunning Hook Peninsula which offers captivating costal views at every turn, ancient abbeys and castles, secluded beaches and the world’s oldest operational lighthouse. Enjoy a host of exciting activities from the Hook Lighthouse Maritime Matters Festival to local produce picnics in Colclough Walled Gardens, an open air market and free children’s workshops at Fethard Castle.
Great Lighthouses of Ireland Shine a Light on Summer
This May Bank Holiday Weekend, the Great Lighthouses of Ireland Shine a Light on Summer Festival celebrates Hook Lighthouse on the beautiful Hook Peninsula. This three day weekend festival features the very best of Wexford’s stunning coastline through a series of maritime themed events and workshops.
JestFest is Wexford’s comedy and street theatre festival which happens each year on the May Bank Holiday weekend. Irish and international street jesters, acrobats, contortionists and comedians all conspire to keep you entertained in atmospheric venues throughout Wexford’s Viking streets.
Hook Lighthouse Maritime Matters Festival
On the grounds of Hook Lighthouse this festival is fun for all the family with local crafts, live music, children’s workshops, delicious food and lots more.
Association of Irish Musical Societies’ Choral Festival
The AIMS Choral Festival is noted for its high competitive standards and friendly informal atmosphere, with the best of choral music in all its many forms. Overall the festival attracts over 1,000 entrants to St. Michael’s Theatre in New Ross, with both adult and junior categories.
Zorrofest, which happens on the May bank holiday weekend, commemorates the life of Wexford man William Lamport (1610-1659) who inspired the much loved fictional hero Zorro. Mexican cookery demos, folkloric dancers, mariachi music, children’s art club and a Walking History Tour of Wexford Town are among the many fun events on offer.
Wexford Food & Wine Festival
Wexford Food and Wine Festival features a free open air food producers market in the heart of Wexford Town, with many fringe events and activities. Walks the streets of Wexford Town and savour both local and international cuisine, from BBQ burgers, fish skewers to freshly made crepes. To add to the festival atmosphere a tasty side helping of family entertainment is also on offer.
Focal – Wexford Literary Festival
The Enniscorthy Literary Festival boasts book launches, readings, inspirational talks, workshops, an open mic night and guest appearances from a range of Irish and international artists.
The Polish Irish Festival in Gorey Town Park features an art exhibition, Polish jazz concert, BBQ, children’s’ games and a football match.
Street Rhythms Dance Festival
This great family festival fills the streets of Enniscorthy with drum beats, dance and fun. Enjoy magicians, fairy tales in the castle, international dance acts, old craft stalls and even a Disney parade!
Enniscorthy Strawberry Half Marathon & 5 Mile Run/Walk
The races start and finish on the banks of the River Slaney in the historic town of Enniscorthy. The half marathon runs along the river, through the town and past the castle before heading out on tree lined roads through the pastoral County Wexford countryside in all its summer glory. The 5 mile race and 15K walk follow shortened versions of the same course. A strawberry mug is on offer to all finishers.
Duncannon Fort Military Vehicle Re-enactment
Duncannon Fort dates from 1588, built to repel the Spanish Armada, and to stop the pirates plundering the merchant ships of their riches on their way up Waterford Harbour. This annual re-enactment, the biggest of its kind in Ireland, relives the rich history of this site, with military re-enactors and vehicles on display. All periods of history will be brought to life during the weekend.
Classic Car Show
The Classic Car Show at Wells House and Gardens is a hugely popular event where motoring enthusiasts display their collection of modern day sports to vintage cars. Family entertainment, BBQ and live music add to this great event with all proceeds going to Make a Wish Ireland.
In the summer season a series of fun-filled festivals celebrate the very best of what Wexford has to offer.
Wexford Military Show
View a wide range of military vehicles from different armies and eras at this enjoyable day out hosted at Wexford Racecourse.
Travel to Wexford to take part in the sunny south east’s ultimate marathon. The course starts on the boardwalk in heart of Wexford Town, winds out of the town and through the scenic hills of Wexford and finishes in the historic Faythe area of the town. Clayton Whites Hotel is a proud sponsor of the Wexford Marathon.
Wexford Maritime Festival
The Maritime Festival hails the life of Commodore John Barry, a Wexford man and founder of the American Navy and offers a variety of maritime activities, visiting boats, children’s activities, artisan food, live music and entertainment. Enjoy watching traditional boats racing along Wexford harbour, or take part in fun raft races, kayaking, canoeing, power boating or try a sub aqua dive. Discover Wexford’s Viking past in the Viking tent where children can try this hand at brass rubbing and sword making. Clayton Whites Hotel is a proud sponsor of the Wexford Maritime Festival.
Strawberry Food Festival
Celebrating Wexford’s most famous fruit, the Strawberry Food Festival is an event not to be missed. Hosted by the Strawberry Queen, stroll the streets of Enniscorthy all the while savouring great music, art, literary events, an All-Ireland Famers Market Competition and of course strawberries and cream.
Gorey Agricultural Show
The Gorey Agricultural Show marked its 157th birthday in 2016, and has endured as one of Ireland’s top shows and a great family day out. From show jumping and dog shows, to gardening, flower arranging and cookery competitions, face painting and puppet shows for the kids to steam engines and vintage machinery, there truly is something for all the family!
Irish America Festival
Wexford’s unique US links are observed during Irish America Day in New Ross each July 4th. Keeping in line with US traditions whereby the Declaration is read from the “Old State House” in Boston, there will be reading of the “Declaration of Independence” by the Town Crier. Enjoy live entertainment, a quayside market and a spectacular fireworks display on the Sunday night.
Kilmore Quay Seafood Festival
The Seafood Festival praises the very best of seafood, music, street theatre, stalls and exhibitions in the beautiful costal village of Kilmore Quay. Sample the famous Kilmore Quay seafood platter, a delicious selection of Wexford’s finest seafood.
Sea Sunday takes place in the seaside town of Courtown, with fun activities for all the family. Come along to take part or watch the raft racing, watersports and family fun.
Craanford Vintage Rally & Field day
A traditional Irish field day, Craanford Vintage Rally & Field day showcases vintage cars, trucks and tractors, making for a wonderful family day out.
Rock ‘N’ Roll & Food Festival
The Enniscorthy Rockin’ Food Festival brings together food and music wonderfully. The Food Festival showcases amazing local produce from Wexford, while live performances throughout the town applaud the best of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rhythm and Blues, and Rockabilly music. There is fun for all the family in the Market Square with a children’s carousel, face painting, balloon making and outdoor movies.
Art in the Open Festival
The Art in the Open Festival celebrates “plein air” paining, with a host of paint outs, workshops with international artists, culminating with a large art exhibition of the artists’ work and which is on sale to the general public. The festival is based in Wexford Town but travels to different locations in Co. Wexford throughout the week.
Gorey Market House Festival
North Wexford’s premier open air festival boasts an open air fashion show, live music and a family fun day over the August Bank Holiday Weekend. Most activities are free and there is something for all the family to enjoy.
Eileen Aroon Festival
This family orientated festival in Bunclody includes local library events, a dog show, pub theatre, storytelling, talent competitions and quizzes.
Vinegar Hill Battle Re-enactment
See history unfold this August Bank Holiday weekend with the Vinegar Hill Battle Re-enactment Festival. Experience the sights and sounds of battle with pike charging rebels capturing Enniscorthy Town or the cannon firing, musket wielding Redcoats assaulting Vinegar Hill. Professional re-enactors from Ireland, England, Scotland and further afield are currently planning their assault on rebel positions to recreate Ireland’s most famous battle at Ireland’s largest battle re-enactment.
The Duncannon Sandsculpting Festival
This family festival is action packed with fun events on beautiful Duncannon beach, fantastic fireworks, a beach party, magic, puppet shows, beach games, street theatre and sand sculpting and sandcastle building competitions.
The Gap Arts Festival
The Gap Arts Festival features professional theatre and workshops for adults and children, local photographic exhibitions, theatre, crafts, photography, dance, drama, painting, film making and storytelling. And a pop up cinema in both Irish and English!
Tagoat Steam & Vintage Rally
The Tagoat Steam & Vintage Rally, one of the largest in the South East, highlights country life in Wexford with over 250 exhibitors of much loved vintage vehicles. Don’t forget to look out for the stars of the show, the stream traction engines.
Taking place on Duncannon Beach in south County Wexford, the Irish kite surfing championships offer spectators the chance to witness the very best of junior, female and male riders from across the world, as they compete over the weekend in a series of course racing and freestyle events. There is fun on and off the water with a festival BBQ on the beach, archery, face painting and much more.
Tri the Hook Sprint Triathlon
Part of the Vodafone National Series race calendar, this well-loved race at the scenic Hook Peninsula attracts over 350 athletes each year from across Ireland and abroad. By the site of the Knights Templar’s headquarters, they run across the cliffs overlooking Carnivan Beach on through rural country roads to finish up outside the village.
Ireland Newfoundland Festival
The Ireland Newfoundland Festival hails the cultural, historic and community ties between Newfoundland & Labrador in Canada and the Irish South East. In 2016 the festival will take place in Thomastown Co. Kilkenny, New Ross Co. Wexford and Carrick on Suir, Co. Tipperary.
Cannonball Ireland is the once yearly gathering of supercar enthusiasts who drive in convoy on a picturesque road trip around Ireland, all the while raising money for charity. The largest organised road trip of its kind in Europe, it’s the most exciting motoring and social event of the year. The Cannonball Festival finish line is on the quays in Wexford Town where the roars of the engines will compete with a cheering crowd of over 15,000 people.
Kennedy Summer School
The Kennedy Summer School is a festival of Irish and American history, politics and culture in New Ross.
Blackstairs Blues Festival
The longest running Blues Festival in Ireland, the Blackstairs Blues Festival in Enniscorthy showcases the cream of local and international blues artists, with a broad range of Blues styles from Delta to Chicago. All gigs are free to the public.
Motor Sport Weekend
A weekend jam packed with events across County Wexford for all motor sports enthusiasts, the highlight being the Wexford Rally.
New Ross Piano Festival
Enjoy a weekend of concerts from a variety of pianists. The 2016 program will bring internationally artists such as Quatuor Ébène (one of the world’s most successful string quartets), American pianist Nicholas Angelich, Australian pianist Piers Lane and Irish pianist Finghin Collins to New Ross. This unique festival brings the music to the masses with PLAY ME pianos dotted around the town’s public spaces for all to play.
The Ebony & Irony Fringe Fest
Coinciding with the annual New Ross Piano Festival the Ebony & Irony Fringe Fest brings all things black and whites to a wider audience.
October and November
Wexford Festival Opera
The international Wexford Festival Opera takes place in Wexford Town annually during October and November and will be expanding to a 3 week festival from 2017.Wexford Festival Opera brings forgotten artistic pieces back to life through a feast of sound and award winning sets and costumes, all set against the backdrop of the majestic National Opera House. Clayton Whites Hotel is a proud sponsor of Wexford Festival Opera.
Wexford Fringe Festival
The Wexford Fringe Festival coincides annually with the Wexford Festival Opera and offers a variety of entertainment and cultural events. Opening with a giant fireworks display on the quays in Wexford Town, this 17 day festival runs alongside the famous Wexford Festival Opera and the Wexford Spiegeltent Festival.
Wexford Spiegeltent Festival
The Wexford Spiegeltent Festival on Wexford Town quayside hosts the best of music, comedy, opera, theatre, film and kids’ shows in a giant Victorian circus style tent. The festival runs for 18 days and nights and the eclectic programme of events features contemporary music, comedy, theatre, film, classical music and burlesque.
Halloween in Wexford
Explore the spooky happenings all across Wexford for Halloween. Haunted Halloween happenings include Gorey Halloween festival, scarecrow competition, carved pumpkin competition, children’s treasure trail, best Halloween retail window, scary storytelling and fancy dress competitions. Or visit Loftus Hall, Ireland’s most haunted house…if you dare!
Wexford Walking Festival
This year the Wexford Walking Festival will showcase trails on the western side of the county. Graded from easy to difficult to suit a range of abilities, walks feature landscape, river and mountain trails, with a mix of history, boating and more.
Get in the festive spirit with this celebration of all things winter! Ice-skating, festive movies, Christmas markets and a train ride through Wexford Town will have you feeling the joys of Christmas. Wexford on Ice is one of Ireland’s biggest and best rinks, running for 7 weeks on Wexford Town’s quay front.
New Ross Nollaig
New Ross Nollaig includes lots of fun filled activities and events under the pretty Christmas lights in New Ross, with Christmas elves delivering “random acts of Christmas” to shoppers and a wonderful Christmas Parade, Festive Market and of course visits to Santa.
Christmas in Gorey
Festive markets, choral events, a panto, exhibitions, a Santa train and grotto, festive lights and so much more are on offer throughout the month of December in Gorey. The town is full of festive cheer and a fun day out for all the family is guaranteed.
Santa’s Enchanted Castle
Santa’s elves transform Enniscorthy castle into an enchanted castle and toy workshop for your family to visit during the most wonderful time of year.LESS INFORMATION