Top Ten Things To Do in Sligo This Summer
It’s the long-awaited start of summer in Sligo and rumour has it there’s a heatwave on the way too! All the more reason to get excited about all we have on offer here in the Land of Heart’s Desire for families, couples, thrill-seekers, gig-goers, culture vultures, nature lovers, foodies, party animals and everything in between.
Here are our TOP TEN THINGS TO DO IN SLIGO THIS SUMMER to get everyone in the mood for a trip out west…
1. Get Your Adrenalin On In Ireland’s Adventure Capital
There is a thirst for adventure in Sligo, it must be said. Maybe it’s something in the mountain air, or spraying forth from the crests of world-famous waves, tripping from the treetops in some of the lush forestry dotted around the countryside or buried deep in the Neolithic tombs of our ancestry. Wherever it springs from, Sligo certainly has plenty of the ‘wild’ Atlantic spirit.
This weekend, 18th-19th May, the Adventure Sligo network has gathered up a selection of experts, teachers, instructors and facilitators and are offering a fantastic taster weekend to whet the appetite of fun seekers of all ages and abilities.
From canoeing to rock climbing, horse riding, stand-up paddle-boarding, sea angling, surfing and plenty more, there are taster sessions taking place throughout the two day event, specifically designed to allow participants to try out three or four different options and see what floats their own particular boat (or surfboard). Thrills and spills aplenty are promised over this boisterous and brilliant weekend.
Book your tickets today, there is still some availability!
May 18 & 19, adventuresligo.ie
2. Make Epic Family Memories
The kids are off school and these long summer days are full of potential. Sligo is blessed with a myriad of options to keep families of all sizes and ages entertained for days at a time. We’ll get you started with some of our favourites.
- One of the most unique attractions in the North West is Eagles Flying. A passion project in rural Ballymote run by two zoologists with an absolute grá for birds of prey, where it isn’t uncommon for a fully grown (expertly trained, of course) vulture to land on an enthralled bystander’s arm for a quick snack. Well worth venturing off the beaten track to experience, and suitable for all ages.
- Or for the more ambitious kids and big kids among us, perhaps chartering a fishing boat with the expert assistance of your very own sea captain, the ever-friendly and informative Daryl Ewing of Sligo Boat Charters is the way to go. Catch and eat the freshest the Atlantic can offer up, and experience the beauty of the wild Atlantic from a completely new perspective.
- If fish ain’t your bag, but water is, make like a little family of ducks and go on a specially designed kayak tour. Ranging in length and challenge level, some even spanning two days and including a once-in-a-lifetime wilderness camping experience, this is the ultimate way to get the kids un-glued from their screens and immersed in nature.
3. Be A Part Of #YeatsDaySligo In The Land Of Heart’s Desire
What better place to be on the 13the of June (Yeats Day, WBs birthday) than in his most beloved of places, Sligo? Annually, the Yeats Society and fellow local literati organise and take part in events all around the town to celebrate one of the most famous Irish poets that ever lived. This year, celebrating the 60th year of the world-famous Yeats International Summer School, they are also calling on everyone else to get involved in a special Yeats Day Challenge. The plan is to send Yeats viral, using a #YeatsDaySligo hashtag. All you have to do is record a video of yourself reciting of a few lines of your favourite Yeats poem (whether you go the whole hog and climb Dooney Rock with a fiddle, or just record it in your bathroom mirror is up to you), then share on your favourite social media platform on Yeats Day. Bonus points for dressing up as the man himself.
13 June, Yeatssociety.com
4. Dive Into A Traditional Seafaring Music Festival
If you’re looking for the hidden gem of the summer’s events, here is where you’ll find it. The picturesque and peaceful seaside village of Rosses Point has taken its rich maritime history and made it into something very unique indeed. With a startling level of talent and an ear-pleasing array of international voices, this rather specialised festival hits all the right notes for anyone who stumbles across it.
Featuring acts from all around the world, lots of good food and drink and a solid cohort of locals to keep things grounded, things get decidedly salty in Rosses Point over this June weekend. If you’re a fan of a good sea shanty (we all need a hobby) this one is obviously for you, but if you’re up for a lot of laughs and a glimpse of some real talent to boot, you might find it’s for you too.
14 – 16 June, wildatlanticshanty.ie
4. Get Your Culture Fix At Cairde Arts Festival
Now in its eleventh year, Cairde’s reputation as Sligo’s annual arts, music and culture highlight is well deserved, and this year promises to be bigger and better than any other thanks to new Arts Council funding boosting the creative coffers.
Featuring an array of creative trail-blazers in workshops, exhibitions, concerts, intimate gigs, street performance and much, much more, this is a week when the vibrant and diverse elements of the town really shine. From the day-long, family-friendly party in the park which launches it, to the feast of artistic talent that is the Cairde Visual Exhibition, the Songs By The Sea gigs which take place in small, much loved local cafes in some of Sligo’s most picturesque seaside villages, to the headline concerts by Craig Ogden, Lisa O’Neill and Seamus Fogarty, writing workshops, talks and performances, including the prestigious coup of an evening of conversation with literary heavyweight Maggie Nelson at the Hawkswell in her first ever Irish appearance. A week-long culture binge!
6 – 13 July, cairdefestival.com
5. Indulge Your Romantic Side
A very special opportunity to experience the magic of outdoor theatre at sundown in the glorious splendour of Markree Castle’s grounds. Renowned theatre company Chapterhouse specialise in innovative adaptations of timeless classics tailored to beautiful outdoor settings. For one evening only, they present the wonderfully tempestuous story of Heathcliff and Catherine in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. The recently renovated and lovingly refurbished Markree Castle in Collooney is the perfect venue for such an event, with its air of grandeur and history. Taking full advantage of the long July evening, guests are invited to bring their picnic blankets and folding chairs to the castle for this romantic tale of passion and revenge. Make a night of it; bring a picnic dinner and some bubbly, or if you really want to impress the one you love, book into one of the castle’s luxurious rooms for the night.
6.30 – 9.30pm, June 16, Wuthering Heights at Markree Castle,
6. A Brand New Favourite Café To Frequent
Dare we predict it, but there’s going to be a serious contender for the title of Sligo’s hottest new café culture spot in town this summer. How do we know? Because it’s being launched soon by the same foodie pair who brought the award-winning and consistently busy Shells Café to Strandhill many years ago, which is often credited with being one of the defining factors in Strandhill becoming the weekend hot-spot that it is today.
In mid-June, Jane and Myles are opening a new venture near Sligo town centre, tastily entitled “Baker Boys”. That’s pretty much all we know for now, aside from a sneaky preview of some pretty amazing trademark savoury pies, but watch this space and let the anticipatory taste-bud tingling commence…
7. A Craft Beer Festival Like No Other: Hagstravaganza
The White Hag is Sligo’s multi award-winning craft beer brewery, who for the past five years has been running a beer festival called Hagstravaganza to show their appreciation for their loyal fanbase’s appreciation and also to showcase the finest of that fine thing they love… BEER!
Hagstravaganza will bring a bevvy of brilliant brewers to Sligo for the weekend. Some are established as global industry leaders, while some are just breaking onto the scene. A show-stopping list of more than 50 world class beers, live music, fabulous local food, miles of craic and a few surprises thrown in make this a beer lover’s dream weekend.
26-27 July, thewhitehag.com
8. Sligo Jazz Project
Sligo Jazz Project is an annual celebration of music built around the annual Summer School, which enjoys a reputation as one of the finest in Europe. For one week in July, world-class (and we are talking truly exceptional; Grammy-winning exceptional) jazz musicians and their acolytes descend upon Sligo and turn it into a throbbing, heaving, saxophone-and-double-bass loaded feast for the senses. You don’t have to be an avid fan of jazz to get into the swing of things; turn up at a bar or restaurant during any of the many free gigs and jam sessions and you will simply enjoy some cracking music along with your usual fare.
Hit one of the headline gigs though and you’ll likely end up a fan of the genre, and if you fancy a feel-good day of music and fun, join the whole summer school, tutors, students and performers, for their joyous wrap party.
23-28 July, sligojazzproject,
9. Join In On The High Of The Warrior’s Run
No, it’s ok, we’re not suggesting you take part in the actual run, which boasts the reputation of one of Ireland’s toughest races, just that you take part in the legendary buzz the Strandhill community has enjoyed over the Warrior’s Run weekend for more than thirty years. Despite the fact that the Warrior’s Run, which takes in 15k of often unpaved, sometimes downright dangerous mountainous terrain, is so famous for being the original Hell and Back, it still draws up to a thousand runners a year.
The resulting clap-on-the-back celebrations and giddy adrenaline highs have led to a weekend of festivities so fantastic that an actual festival has sprung up around the run. Behind the scenes of bubbly and beer and red-faced cheer are a seriously skilled set of event organisers, but don’t take our word for it… Pop along and join the party.
24 August, warriorsrun.ie
10. Arise And Go Now To Innisfree
One of the most exciting new developments for visitors to Sligo is the new Pontoon Jetty at historic Riverside Quay Wall, Sligo. This 27 metre pontoon will be usable from early June and will open up a wealth of watersport activities to visitors to Sligo town.
Just a short walk from town, the pontoon will open access to Lough Gill and importantly for Yeats fans, the Lake Isle of Innisfree.
The project has received funding of €200,000 from Fáilte Ireland, with a total project cost of €270,000 and will see the construction of a 27m floating pontoon alongside landscaping, signage, a new shelter area, seating and information points at the Sligo Pontoon.
We can’t wait to try it out!
And here’s a bonus tip; we couldn’t keep it to just ten.
11. Visit Megalithic Tombs Older Than The Pyramids
Nestled under Knocknarea mountain, amidst some of Sligo’s prettiest, most unspoilt countryside, Carrowmore remains the largest and oldest cemetery of megalithic tombs known in Ireland. Walking among such ancient relics of our ancestry can be quite the awe-inspiring experience, especially when we consider the vast knowledge and connection these ‘primitive’ people had with nature and astronomy, and the deep spirituality evident in their burial practices.
The tombs themselves are preserved beautifully and are open to the public year round, with free entry on the first Wednesday of each month. There is also a visitor’s centre on site which features an extensive exhibition relating to the area and plenty of information on the tombs. A gorgeous and educational day out in the fresh air.
If you’re out and about in Sligo this summer; follow #sligotravels on social or tag your photos. We’ll reshare the best.