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Visiting Ireland in winter can entail colder weather and closed attractions, but it can be fairly quiet and also ideal to explore both towns and countryside. There are significant savings in hotels when traveling during the tourist season. So what is the best time to travel to Ireland?
With a long tradition, vibrant Irish festivals, stunning natural scenery, farm-fresh food and plenty of cozy pubs, something different can be discovered every time of year you decide to visit Ireland.
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What Is The Peak Season In Ireland?
Despite a fairly low local population, Ireland receives more visitors than it has year-round. July and August are Ireland’s typical holiday months, with seaside spots especially packed with locals. Also, these peak summer months are the most popular time when outdoor visitors fly to Ireland, which effectively doubles the accommodation competition.
July and August are the most populated places to visit in Ireland. Most are outdoors and can handle crowds, but people’s hordes can detract from natural beauty.
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The Irish Weather
Ireland’s weather can pass every season in a single day, so it’s almost impossible to guarantee good weather even at summer ‘s height. Speaking of which, summertime temperature rarely exceeds 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so prepare with clothing layers to bundle as required in every season. This could be the best time to travel to Ireland if you don’t mind the weather.
The lowest temperature settles from November to February, usually followed by lots of rain and limited hours of daylight. Outdoor events such as hiking are reserved for spring, summer and fall. However, the temperature rarely falls below freezing, so a snowstorm is unlikely to catch visitors.
Regardless of year, plan for cool — but not icy — weather. Naturally, it’ll also pour. In reality, Emerald Isle can rain up to 225 days a year. It’s all that precipitation which provides the hills their famous green shades so they accept the drizzle (and be sure to pack weather-specific shoes).
Key Holidays and Festivals In Ireland
Summer “bank holiday” (three-day) weekends are Ireland’s most common travel time. In summer, on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day attracts a significant number of vacationers to Dublin. Big crowds also converge on the Irish capital on the first weekend of December, the season kickoff to holiday (and holiday shopping).
Visiting Ireland: Month-To-Month Guide
During March and May and September to November, whenever it’s not as hot as it’s in summer or as cold as it is in winter, is the best time to travel to Ireland.
That said, Ireland has a pleasant, temperate climate, and while sometimes it’s rainy, you can visit all year round. Weather changes aren’t usually extreme. Here’s a month-to-month guide to travel to Ireland:
January and February
Temperatures are lowest but still around 5.5 ° C (42 ° F). Many hotels in rural regions will be closed, but you can still base yourself in big cities and explore from here. Toward the end of January, a traditional culture and music festival is held in Dublin’s Temple Bar district.
Festivals and Events: Tradfest celebrates traditional Irish songs. Some of the festival ‘s highlights are iconic venues, from St Patrick ‘s Cathedral to Dublin’s City Hall.
Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17 is an Irish national holiday. Expect crowds and a party-like experience over the weekend, with live dancing and music, and the streets are filled with people.
Festivals and Events: Every March 17, Ireland erupts in celebrations to commemorate St Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint.
April and May
Temperatures get much warmer and spring flowers start blooming. Vivid fuchsias lining the west coast roads, especially around Kerry, start to bloom. Summer visitors flock to Ireland in May and prices for hotels go up. It is also the best time to travel to Ireland if you don’t mind bumping into other tourists.
Festivals and Events: Easter in April frequently happens. Good Friday is a national holiday in Northern Ireland, and Easter Monday is a public holiday in both Ireland and the north.
In May, travel to County Clare to experience live music at the Fleadh Nua festival taking over Ennis.
Gardens all over Ireland sing with vibrant hues and warm temperatures, averaging around 13 ° C (56 ° F). In mid-June, Dublin celebrates Bloomsday, focusing on the life of poet and novelist James Joyce.
Festivals and Events: Bloomsday is a cultural event marking the day that James Joyce ‘s novel, Ulysses, was published.
July and August
It is the busiest time of year for tourists, coinciding with summer schools. Temperatures are at their warmest, and in theory, these are the driest months, although visitors to Ireland should expect rain every year. Galway International Arts Festival is held in mid-to-late July, while the Dingle Regatta (a boat race water festival) is held in early August.
Festivals and Events: At the Dingle Regatta, spectators watch the rowers as they navigate the course in traditional Namhóg canoes, jostling for first place.
Between 17 to 30 July, Galway ‘s small Irish town hosts an international arts festival. Expect live music, theatre, art.
This is the best time to travel to Ireland especially if you want to visit the Skellig Islands, as the weather is deemed too unpredictable between October and April. This also tends to be the last month most wildlife boat tours operate as many marine wildlife trips to warmer climates after September.
The season’s deepening foliage stretches from mid-to late September, and the hillsides turn purple as heather flowers. In September, there are several food festivals, including the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival.
Festivals and Events: Feast on fresh, native Galway Oysters at world’s longest-standing oyster festival.
If you enjoy big concerts, festivals and Jazz, then October is the best time to travel to Ireland.Season’s shifting hues hit their height in October, and mountains take on russet shades as the bracken dies. Some sites close in late October as visitor numbers and temperatures drop. The Kinsale Gourmet Festival is held in early October, a local produce festival, and Cork ‘s International Jazz Festival is usually held at the end of the month.
Festivals and Events: Late October, jazz lovers flocked to Cork with good reason. This musical festival has an impressive roster of past artists, topping the roster with Ella Fitzgerald and Herbie Handcock.
Kinsale Gourmet Festival celebrates fresh local food in ten restaurants from around the seaside area.
This is when Ireland starts completely quiet, and some hotels outside the cities may close for annual renovations. It’s also usually the wettest month and averages around 10°C (50°F) in the south and 5°C (45°F) in the east and north.
Festivals and Events: Experience Saint Martin’s Day on November 11. It’s Northern Ireland’s Remembrance Sunday.
Christmas celebrations begin at the beginning of the month, with festive lights in towns, plays and Christmas markets. December is a relatively cold month, but this can create beautifully picturesque landscapes of frost-covered hills and trees. Along the coast, it’s relatively windy, but those hotels that remain open still welcome visitors with roaring log fires and hearty food.
Festivals and Events: In addition to Christmas Day on December 25, 26 is St. Stephen’s Day in Ireland and regarded as Boxing Day at Northern Ireland.
Costs Of Visiting Ireland
The best time to travel to Ireland also depends on your budget as well. Like with other popular tourist destinations, during the summer tourists flock to Ireland, as do many English-speaking students from Europe hoping to brush up the language by listening to our own exclusive brand for a few weeks.
All big Irish tourist destinations and tours often tend to be very busy with higher prices for hotels and airfares.
In winter, while none of the most popular tourist attractions can have more restricted hours or be closed, the reduced airfare and accommodation rates certainly make it an enticing prospect (try to avoid sky-high Christmas fares).
It’s another reason as to why Spring and Fall are so appealing. If you’re not traveling or staying during St. Patrick’s Day in the region, rates will be slightly higher than winter, but not as severe as summertime, and you’ll still get the best weather at a budget.
My advice is to plan your trip around the best flight and hotel deals you’ll find, or a festival / event you think you’ll enjoy. Because Ireland’s temperatures don’t vary widely between seasons, you’re free to explore Ireland whenever it suits you.
What’s your favorite time and place in Ireland? Got any positive or negative experiences?
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!
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