Walking festivals started in Ireland only around 20 years ago when some walking clubs got together to recreate the retreat of Donal Cam O’Sullivan Beare. The Gaelic Lord had fought against England’s Queen Elizabeth I, and in 1602 marched 500km from his stronghold in Dursey Island on the South West tip of Ireland to Lough Neagh in the North East.
Now, fortunately, you are free to walk across Ireland without having to plunder local villages for food or fight off Elizabethan soldiers. As many of these walking festivals come and go, here is our round-up of confirmed events for 2023.
Connemara Mountain Walking Festival
Dates: 28th April – 1st May 2023
Cost: €75 Full Weekend Ticket, €40 Saturday Ticket, €40 Sunday Ticket
This festival offers a unique combination of mountain and sea experiences, with walks designed for all levels of ability. Participants can enjoy the beautiful scenery, nature, history, and geology along the Wild Atlantic Way. The festival includes a team of professional mountain guides, transport to and from the walks, maps, a small souvenir, and tea and scones at the end of the walks. Friday evening entertainment and the end-of-festival Cèilidh are also part of the experience.
Official Website & Booking: connemaramountainwalkingfestival.com
Inishbofin Walking Festival
Dates: 19th May – 21st May 2023
Cost: €51 Weekend Pass (incl. breakfast)
The Inishbofin Walking Festival offers a variety of walks where participants can experience the landscape, wildlife, history, and local atmosphere of Inishbofin. The festival includes walks such as Sunrise Step to the Shore, Hike to the Fort, Sunset Spotting, and North Coast Walk. Suitable for adults who are physically fit and able to walk for longer periods of time over rough terrain. Participants should bring weather-appropriate clothing, suitable walking shoes or boots with good grip, a small backpack with water and snacks, and binoculars and a torch if available.
Official Website & Booking: inishbofinexperiences.ie
Wander Wild Festival
Dates: 22nd – 24th March 2024
Discover Killarney’s National Park, its lakes, and its mountains like never before. Activities include swimming, hiking, biking, running, horse riding, kayaking, food trails, and wellness sessions. Suitable for adrenaline junkies and those seeking mindfulness.
Last year’s prices for some activities:
- Summit Carrauntoohil by the Devil’s Ladder: €65
- The Nature Valley Mangerton Hike with Roz Purcell: €50
- Lakes of Killarney Kayak Tour: €55
- Guided Killarney National Park Cycle: €45
- Ross Castle Kayak Tour: €40
- Samhradh’s Sauna at Dundag: €12
- Breathwork Class with Edele: €15
- “Find Your Calm” Yin Yoga: €15
- Trail Run – Old Kenmare Road: €20
- Yoga & Light Therapy: €15
- Guided National Park Night Walk: €15
- 1000Kms of Chaos Film Screening & Q&A: €10
- Killarney House Exhibition: Free
- Muckross Lake Self-Guided Loop Walk for Families: Free
- Tomies Wood Self-Guided Loop Walk for Families: Free
Official Website & Booking: wanderwildfestival.com
To Be Confirmed
These festivals have run in recent years, but we are still waiting on confirmation that they will run in 2023:
- Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail Walking Festival
- The Boyne Valley Trails Walking Festival
- Carlow Walking Festival 2023
- Dingle Walking Festival 2023
- Galway Walking Festival