Bantry has an extensive programme of events and festivals all year
please note: due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis many festivals and events are cancelled – please check individual events for updates
All through the year we have fantastic festivals and events in Bantry. Whether you’re interested in classical music, botany, walking, literature, food culture or simply having the craic on St. Patrick’s Day, Bantry offers something to suit everyone.
Events are often held in the main town square, out on the bay or in a variety of venues in and nearby the town. We have events which are ticketed and events which are free, including free music and food on the streets! What’s not to love about that? There are festivals celebrating all things cultural, events for a variety of interests and events for all the family in Bantry, so do come and join us here in the heart of West Cork!
Have a read through our festivals and events below, listed by month.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival
17th March, Wolfe Tone Square
Each year on the 17th March, Bantry ‘Goes Green’ to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick.
Join in the fabulous parade of creative floats, marching bands and experience Irish culture at it’s best in Bantry. Enjoy a display of traditional Irish dancing on Wolfe Tone Square by a local dance troop, local Irish bands, face-painting and games for the children.
The many bars and pubs in Bantry all have live Irish music, some traditional and some contemporary, to add to the fantastic atmosphere in Bantry for this festival. Join us in Bantry for a bit of craic for St. Patrick’s Day!
West Cork Stone symposium
2021 date TBC
The West Cork Stone Symposium celebrates stone as part of our environment and as a source of inspiration throughout the ages
Come to the symposium to be inspired by a rugged coastline that’s home to one of Ireland’s most creative communities. Discover how stone has shaped our lives and imaginations, and unleash your own creativity as you learn from stone masons, carvers, and sculptors and immerse yourself in learning ancient skills.
Bantry walking festival
Join us for a weekend of hiking, exploring, sightseeing and fun at the Bantry Walking Festival!
The Bantry Walking Festival is an annual event held over the June Bank Holiday weekend. It involves organised guided walks in stunning parts of Bantry and the surrounding area.
Take a walk on The Sheep’s Head or a short ferry over to Whiddy Island for a guided walk to learn about the fascinating history of the island. Suitable for walkers and hikers, there is a walk to suit everyone of different abilities with walks of different durations..
kupala multicultural festival
Celebrate the Midsummer Solstice at the Kupala Multicultural festival in Bantry.
Expect amazing displays of traditional dress, food and music from all different cultures and countries. A wonderful festival celebrating all that is different across many cultures and all that we all have in common. There are food stalls, face-painting, fancy dress, arts & craft workshops, games for children, live music and perhaps a viking battle display!
This is a FREE event for all the family and a colourful event not to be missed!
West Cork chamber music festival
2020 Festival Cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 crisis…BUT….
UPDATE 09 JUNE – Thanks to the generous support of the Friends of West Cork Music who kindly donated the value of their tickets, plans are underway to stream live concerts during the ten days this summer when the 2020 Festival should be taking place.
These performances will be presented on the West Cork Music website each day from Fri. 26th June to Sun. 5th July. Although you will be enjoying them from the comfort of your own home, rather than in the library of Bantry House or St Brendan’s Church, we hope that they will uplift and provide hope during this time.
We can only present these live streams thanks to the generous support of the Arts Council of Ireland, the Crespo Foundation, Cork County Council and Failte Ireland.
Keep an eye on the West Cork Music website and social media for further announcements.
The chamber music festivals that are treasured by music-lovers everywhere share several features – the day is full of music from morning to midnight, the programming repeatedly discovers unexpected repertoire and great but lesser-known musicians, all works are properly rehearsed, there is a strong programme of masterclasses and facilities for young musicians and audiences keep coming back. These festivals are very often in remote but beautiful places. This is what we try to achieve in Bantry.
The West Cork Chamber Music Festival includes concerts, masterclasses, talks and instrument making workshops. The hundred or so invited musicians are without exception superb, the programming combines the challenging and the unknown with the familiar and the whole town is taken over for rehearsals. There is also a fantastic ‘Fringe Festival’ with daily events all over the town.
Bantry House and St. Brendan’s Church are the main concert venues but all the venues have an intimacy that is vital for chamber music which creates a special community of musicians and music-lovers. Bantry House itself is renowned for the atmosphere created in the candle-lit Library and the House’s extraordinarily beautiful setting at the head of Bantry Bay. All events are within walking distance of the town, which enjoys a fantastic atmosphere all week.
Whiddy island family fun day
Usually Beginning of July – TBC – Whiddy Island
A great Family Fun Day is held on Whiddy Island every year at the beginning of July.
Think BBQ, bouncy castles, face-painting, kayak hire, live music with hilarious games like crab races and welly throwing! Enjoy beverages and food from the BBQ or from Bank House, the only pub on the island, and chat to the locals and holidaymakers who are all on Whiddy for a bit of relaxation and family fun. A great day out and one of the highlights of the summer in Bantry. The date is confirmed a few weeks beforehand.
West Cork Literary festival
2020 Festival Cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 crisis…BUT…
UPDATE 09 JUNE – Following the unavoidable cancellation of the 2020 festival due to the Covid-19 pandemic, plans are underway to move most of the writing workshops and professional development sessions including a group session with a literary agent and individual sessions with an editor ONLINE. Exact details of these online workshops will be announced shortly.
Keep an eye on our website and social media for further updates. We would like to thank Cork County Council for their support of the 2020 online programme.
Now an annual highlight in the Irish literary calendar, the West Cork Literary Festival is a week-long celebration of writing and reading for people of all ages held in Bantry.
From its humble beginnings as a series of casual poetry readings and fringe events around the Chamber Music Festival, it has expanded into a varied and extensive programme of readings, talks and week-long workshops, growing more adventurous and imaginative with each year.
Bantry is delighted to bring the finest Irish and international literary figures to West Cork every July – making exceptional talent accessible to local, regional and national audiences. At the heart of the Festival is the practice and craft of writing, and in keeping with this Festival Director Eimear O’Herlihy, devises a workshop programme second to none, designed to encourage and inspire novice as well as experienced writers. The West Cork Literary Festival is also a fantastic social event, noted for its supportive and friendly atmosphere, and its personal touch.
Wild atlantic mizen cycle
10th July 2021 – Bantry
2020 Festival Cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
The Wild Atlantic Mizen Cycle is a charity cycle event in Bantry which raises funds for local charities. It is organised by the West Cork Emergency Services & Friends, primarily made up of members of An Garda Síochána, Cork County Fire Service, HSE Ambulance Service, West Cork Civil Defence, The Red Cross and The Irish Coastguard.
See the stunning scenery of West Cork by cycling the Wild Atlantic Way around the Mizen and Sheep’s Head Peninsulas. There are three routes, 130k, 100k and a new 65k route, all starting and finishing in Bantry.
There will be Water-stops and Food-stops en route and there will be a post-cycle party in Bantry afterwards led by a BBQ in the Fire Station. A repair/ breakdown service will be available on the day but you are encouraged to have your bike serviced beforehand. A wonderful event to be part of and also a great one to spectate as the cyclists weave their way in and around the town.
West Cork fit up theatre festival
Date TBC July – Whiddy Island
The core essence of the Fit-up Theatre Festival nods to the tradition of Fit-up theatre of the 1950s. Back then, professional companies travelled the length and breadth of Ireland reaching a wide variety of towns, villages and rural areas bringing all members of the community together through the act of theatre.
Today, the events happen all over West Cork and Whiddy Island hosts events as part of this festival during July.
bantry bbq Festival
2020 Festival Cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
Enjoy the Summer Bank Holiday weekend with us in Bantry with BBQs and live music on the streets all weekend.
The streets of Bantry come alive with the smell of BBQ fayre, live music, dog racing, face-painting, bouncy castles, ceilís and more. Great fun for all the family.
ellen hutchins festival
17th – 25th August 2020 – various locations, Bantry
The Ellen Hutchins Festival is held every August to celebrate the life and work of Ireland’s first female botanist, Ellen Hutchins who was from Ballylickey, Bantry.
The festival includes a programme of workshops, exhibitions, walks, talks, boat trips and other events linked to botany, botanical art, landscape and letter writing.
masters of tradition festival
19th -23rd August 2020 – various locations, Bantry
2020 Festival Changes due to ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
UPDATE 09 June: The Irish Government’s COVID-19 Roadmap is enabling West Cork Music to come up with plans for the 2020 Masters of Tradition from 19 – 23 August. It will be a reduced programme, featuring one main concert and one extra intimate performance each day. The requirement for 2 week quarantine looks set to still be in place, and while we hope that this will be reduced, we recommend that our international audience keeps an eye on these regulations before making plans to travel. We will be adhering to all government regulations to make the festival happen.
More details will be announced in the coming months on our website. We are grateful for the generous support of the Arts Council of Ireland and Cork County Council.
Masters of Tradition is a five-day festival held each August in Bantry featuring a series of performances covering the full spectrum of Irish traditional music. Performances take place in Bantry House, one of Ireland’s most exquisite historic mansions, and in one of Bantry’s other special venues, St Brendan’s Church.
The Festival’s mission is to give recognition to the masters of this music. Being a master of traditional Irish music doesn’t always entail dazzling virtuosity. Sometimes the ability to channel the deep feeling of the music or the ability to reimagine the music is just as important. We equally value virtuosity of thought, feeling and musical ability.
Masters of Tradition provides a platform where subtle and sometimes obscure elements of the music can be heard. We avoid pressure to present this music in a commercial or watered down manner and in so doing have been able to assure audiences that they are experiencing the music as authentically as possible. By seeking the heart of the music we find a universal voice that has widespread appeal reaching across many cultural and musical barriers.
As ever, the Festival is headlined by its Artistic Director Martin Hayes, the fiddler from East Clare, whose distinctive touch and extravagant virtuosity has brought the tradition to new levels. His famous trance-evoking sets with Dennis Cahill have mesmerised audiences all over the world.
“When we started this festival in 2003, my belief was that a sufficient audience with interest in the most authentic form of Irish music must surely exist; that the music itself does not have to be shaped and bent to meet the perceived needs of an audience. In its purest form it speaks a universal language. I have sat through almost all of the performances each year of this festival and every time I leave Bantry, I do so with a renewed faith in the strength of this music.”
– Martin Hayes [Artistic Director]
bantry Bay adventure race
2020 Race Cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
Tackle the terrain of the Wild Atlantic Way -island, bay, and peninsula in the Bantry Bay Adventure Race held at the end of August every year.
Participants run Whiddy Island, kayak Bantry Bay, and then cycle a stretch of the Sheep’s Head peninsula (splitting the legs if you’re a team competitor!)
The event is a test of teamwork as well as individual skills for everyone – competitors need to pair up after the run to bring double kayaks across Bantry Bay and back to Bantry’s Abbey Pier.
Individuals and teams of three are welcome to take part in an event that’s been a sellout hit in previous years. Why not sign up and support three great charities as you immerse yourself in a unique West Cork challenge?
bantry agricultural show
2020 Show Cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
At the beginning of September every year Bantry is host to the last of the summer agricultural shows in the area. Located on Bantry airstrip overlooking Bantry Bay, it is a fantastic show of all things agricultural competing for that prized rosette. There are different competitions for skill and breed for horses, ponies, cattle, sheep, goats etc. and it is a fun day to sit and watch it all.
There are food stalls, bouncy castles, children’s entertainment, dog shows, pony riding, fashion shows, trade stalls, arts and craft competitions and much much more.
With free shuttle buses from the town, it is a perfect day out for young and old alike.
chief o’NEIll festival
Early Sept – Bantry
2020 Festival Cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
We celebrate the musical legacy of Chief O’Neill in Bantry with a traditional music festival to highlight his achievements as a collector of traditional Irish music.
As the famous ‘Chief’ of the Chicago police force, Captain O’Neill won fame and affection in America, but he never lost his love for the Irish music that he had learned as a child growing up in Tralibane near Bantry. Read more about Chief O’Neill.
To celebrate the legacy of this Bantry man, we bring together the best contemporary musicians for a packed programme of concerts, workshops, sessions and fun here in Bantry.
A Taste of West Cork Food Festival
4th-13th September – Bantry & wider West Cork region
A Taste of West Cork Food Festival is an annual, ten day September event that celebrates West Cork’s unique food culture and the people and land that produce that food. A pure joy to the senses, the festival is a culinary adventure through the dramatic backdrop of over 50 local towns including Bantry, nearby villages and 9 West Cork islands, including Whiddy Island.
Enjoy some fabulous food events in Bantry restaurants, hotels or food experiences on boat trips or Whiddy Island and bring the Wild Atlantic Way to life through our West Cork food.
18th September 2020 – Bantry
Culture Night is a celebration of all things Irish through free cultural events in towns and cities across the island of Ireland. Arts and cultural organisations in Bantry open their doors with free events, talks and performances for everyone to enjoy. Events are held in local pubs, restaurants and hotels.
Culture Night is brought to you by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and the Creative Ireland Programme in partnership with Cork City Council.
The Westlodge Hotel Fastnet Rally
2020 Race Cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
Bantry comes alive to the sound of revving engines and motor rally cars racing for the winners podium during the Westlodge Hotel Fastnet Rally every October Bank Holiday.
There is a fantastic parade of rally sports cars around Wolfe Tone Square to launch the rally and it is a fantastic spectacle to behold. Watch the motorcars drive past during the race stages at various vantage points around Bantry during the rally. A great sight for motorsport fans and non-motorsports fan with a fantastic atmosphere in Bantry all weekend.
Bantry Halloween Festival
31st October 2020 – Bantry
Great fun for all the family to celebrate Halloween as everyone gathers in scary fancy dress in Wolfe Tone Square for spooky walks and a Monster Disco.
Enjoy the spooky walk around Bantry House & Gardens where you will find hidden ghosts, witches or werewolves hiding in the shadows or maybe a monster or two might jump out at you from their hiding place! The gardens of Bantry House are decorated to have a scary feel, just watch your step in case you stumble across a skeleton! Return back to the square in Bantry for a Monster Disco for everyone to enjoy.
This is a FREE event for everyone and parents are advised it may be too scary for very young children. A shuttle bus departs from Wolfe Tone Square at 7pm on the day to Bantry House & Gardens for the spooky walk.
New Year Family Gathering
9.30pm – 31st December 2020 – Bantry
A fantastic annual event on Wolfe Tone Square for all the family to celebrate the arrival of the New Year.
At a time of 9.30pm to suit all the family, there is a free street disco to entertain everyone while you gather together to wait for the amazing fireworks display over Bantry Bay.
This is a FREE event for everyone with a great atmosphere to celebrate the New Year together.
Things to Do in Bantry
Things to Do, Places to Go and Experiences to Enjoy