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Top Ten Fantastic Festivals

Every year across the UK and Ireland, more and more festivals squeeze into the calendar and vie for our attention. From the Edinburgh International Festival to The Proms – the world’s largest classical music festival, and from Glastonbury to the Great British Gin Festival, there is something for every taste. At Janet Redler Travel & Tourism, we love visiting as many as we can, so we’ve put together a list of some of our favourites.


Hay Festival of Literature and Arts is a leading festival in the UK calendar, attracting some of the brightest and best writers from around the world. Held each spring in the small market town of Hay-on-Wye in mid-Wales, the festival also includes musical performances, film reviews and a children’s festival. The festival offers a mix of formal and informal events and activities in and around the town, giving the whole place a tremendous buzz!

Buxton International Festival is a 17-day celebration of opera, music and books, which takes place in the attractive spa town of Buxton in the heart of the spectacular Peak District, central England. The festival is a fixture in the calendar each July and includes uniquely staged operas, performed in the stunning Buxton Opera House, as well as a series of concerts, recitals and literary talks in venues around the town. Recognised internationally as one of the UK's leading arts festivals, the event celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2019.

Buxton_Opera_House_c_VisitEngland_-_Buxton_Opera_House.jpgBuxton Opera House © VisitEngland / Buxton Opera House

The Braemar Gathering is the most famous Highland Games in the world and takes place on the first Saturday of September each year in the charming Highland village of Braemar in Scotland. This one day festival dates to 1832 – although it can trace its roots back over 900 years – and is regularly attended by the Royal Family. Enjoy pipe bands and Highland dancing as well as the traditional challenges of tossing the caber and putting the Braemar Stone.

St Patrick’s Day Festival is the annual St Patrick’s Day celebration in Dublin, which takes place over five days around the St Patrick’s Day holiday. St Patrick’s Day is one of the most celebrated festivals in the world and this lively event in the Irish capital features the famous St Patrick’s Day parade – a spectacular occasion not to be missed.


The Three Choirs Festival is one of the world’s oldest classical choral music events and has been taking place for over 300 years. The festival happens at the end of July and rotates between the cathedrals of the ‘Three Counties’ of England (Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester). The spine-tingling choral music, when performed in these sublime cathedral settings, really has to be heard to be believed.

Shrewsbury Steam Rally is Shropshire’s largest steam and vintage vehicle rally and one of the best in the UK. The rally has been running since the early Sixties and now has over 1000 exhibits – from steam powered tractors to classic cars, and vintage fairground organs to historic military vehicles. We especially like the ‘working field’, which demonstrates the story of farming over the last century.


Brecon Jazz Festival, which takes place in and around the Welsh town of Brecon on the edge of the spectacular Brecon Beacons, is one of the UK’s leading jazz festivals, which celebrated its 35th birthday in 2018. Performers over the years have included George Melly, Benny Carter, Van Morrison and Dionne Warwick and the pretty little town really comes alive during this three day musical extravaganza.

Galway International Arts Festival is one of Europe’s leading arts festivals and is held every July in the ancient city of Galway in the west of Ireland. The 14 day event features performances from national and international artists, in what is described as ‘one of the most eclectic and electric arts festivals in the world’. Galway is known as one of the world’s friendliest cities and during the festival, venues around the city present the best in music, theatre and dance – you can’t fail to be enchanted by this magical place!

web-Galway_Arts_Festival_Big_Top__Fireworks_6th_june_2012_02_-_Copy.jpgGalway Arts Festival © Tourism Ireland

Harrogate Spring Flower Show is the first major event in the UK gardening calendar each year and is rated by many as Britain’s top flower show. Taking place in April in the historic Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate, the show features the biggest exhibition by florists and flower arrangers in the country, as well as show gardens and a huge plant pavilion. Coming as it does at the beginning of spring, we think there’s nothing like it for lifting the spirits!

Belfast Beer and Cider Festival is one of Ireland’s most popular festivals, which sees thousands of visitors descending on the vibrant capital of Northern Ireland. Taste some of the finest bees and ciders from across the UK and Ireland in the magnificent setting of Ulster Hall and then why not explore the sights of one of the UK’s fastest growing tourist destinations, such as the Titanic Belfast, HMS Caroline and Crumlin Road Gaol?

Please see the events calendar on our website for many more festivals, and if you or your group would like to enjoy a tailor-made tour of the UK and Ireland, taking in some of the best festivals around, please do contact us today.

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