The New Year means that a fresh and fabulous new programme of festivals and events gets underway right across the island of Ireland.

With something big going on in any month of the year, Ireland is renowned for the good times that can be had at its festivals. So why not jump into the 2023 programme straight away with Out to Lunch, running from 7–29 January in Belfast’s lively Cathedral Quarter? This much-loved winter event offers a mouth-watering menu of live music, comedy, spoken word and film. For a very affordable price its lunchtime shows come served with a hot lunch, while the evening events are renowned for sustaining all kinds of fun-lovers during the post-holiday lull.

A February trip to Ireland should take in The Outing Festival, an LGBTQ+ weekend like no other. A fusion of music, comedy, ceilí bands, queer arts, and the best Irish and international performers, drag artists and DJs, it’s all happening around the St Valentine’s weekend (10–12 February). The festival’s home is the Inn at Dromoland in County Clare within the grounds of the famous Dromoland Castle Estate, and with a range of excellent attractions nearby. Whether you’re single or taken, LGBTQ+ or straight, all are welcome to join in this fun celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.

March is a special time for festivals on the island of Ireland, with St Patrick’s Day, on 17 March, celebrated right across the country and indeed right across the globe. From Belfast to Cork communities in cities, towns and villages up and down the country showcase their Irish pride through a range of brilliant events.

Watch out especially for the mega St Patrick’s Festival, which returns to the streets of Dublin in spectacular fashion, with its biggest parade ever, a range of special events in the Festival Quarter and live broadcasts from the festival’s virtual TV station SPF TV.

Or head to Armagh for the Home of St Patrick’s Festival, which celebrates the saint’s roots in Northern Ireland with a lively and varied showcase of the best culture, music, song and dance.

Then, the last weekend in March sees the amazing Wander Wild Festival take centre stage in Killarney, County Kerry. This unique adventure and wellness festival, set amid the stunning lakes and mountains of Killarney National Park, is not to be missed in 2023. Running from 24–26 March inclusive, it will see springtime enthusiastically embraced with everything from sunrise lakeside swims, yoga, mountain trails, kids’ Gruffalo adventures and biking, to hiking, kayaking, evening guided walks, podcasts with high profile guests and a fabulous food tour focused on the authentic tastes of Kerry’s food and drink. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or mindful experience seeker, there will be something to suit all outdoor explorers, wellness enthusiasts, culture seekers and food aficionados amid Killarney’s magical landscapes.

One of Europe’s premier international choral festivals, the fantastic Cork International Choral Festival is a highlight in April. Noted for its high standards, an eclectic and wide-ranging programme, and the friendliness of its welcome, the festival showcases choirs from across the world. Taking place from 26–30 April, it sees thousands of participants and festival-goers bring Cork to life for a celebration of choral music in all its forms. The programme will include concerts, national and international competitions, and world-class performances.

Look out especially for the opening and closing gala events, which are joyful and colourful celebrations of song.