From May on, down our neck of the woods it’s all flip-flops, board-shorts and sunnies. Okay, so we might keep the odd raincoat to hand too – but right through the summer, we are firmly committed to hanging out by the sea.
Beach life in Ireland really kicks into gear in the summer – we surf and swim there, we have our lunch there, we party there and sometimes we even sleep there. We do have some corkers of sandy strands to choose from: the white-sand Curracloe in County Wexford, surf-tastic Ballymastocker in County Donegal and classic seaside Portstewart Strand in County Londonderry.
Golden sands, Blue Flags and ice creams boxes firmly ticked.
We do diversify our beach time though too. Adding festivals to the mix was a natural progression, and bringing live music, art and other festivities to the beach seems utterly efficient too.
Here are some ‘beach with a side of’ options for this summer.
Music on the beach
It will be sundresses and screaming fans at dawn at the aptly-named Live at the Beach event in Portrush on 25 June. With a line-up including The Wanted and The Saturdays, it’s one of Northern Ireland’s major music events of the summer. It’s a good excuse to sneak off to Whiterocks Beach: limestone cliffs that plummet down to one of the most beautiful stretches of sand on the island. No wonder it’s a magnet for surfers and body borders. Dare we say… rocking?!
Our big tip for the summer has got to be Sea Sessions Surf Music Festival in Donegal’s seaside sensation, Bundoran. Groove to Happy Mondays, Kaiser Chiefs, Fujiya & Miyagi and DJ Krafty Kuts. Surfers should get their boards down to the Barefoot Expression Session where the top Irish surfers will be pitted against European biggies.
Opt for something entirely more sedate in Londonderry. If you can find a more spectacular location for a bout of classical music than the Mussenden Temple then we’ll eat our violin case. Overlooking the dramatic white sandy sweep of Downhill Strand, the Midsummer Concert takes place from on 15 and 16 June. There are also Sunday concerts throughout the summer, with a harpist playing easy listening tunes. Love a bit of harp.
Sand crafting is a real art, elevating the humble sandcastle to a complex structure that wouldn’t look out of place in The Count of Monte Cristo. Jaws will be dropping likes spades at the Duncannon Sand Sculpting Festival on 10 August in County Wexford. Sculptors from all over Europe arrive to create some magical sculptures with the whole event taking place right on the beach including fireworks, a beach party, magic and puppet shows and beach games. We’ll be there spade in hand.
You can’t get any better than eating seafood right next to the ocean from which it has been plucked. Whether it’s local oysters enjoyed alfresco with a glass of chilled white wine at the Fishy
Fishy Café in Kinsale, or fish and chips from Morton’s in Ballycastle – seafood is something we do pretty well, so well in fact that we’ve created a good few festivals around it.
Everything from sumptuous sea vegetables to seafood buffets are celebrated at the Achill Seafood Festival from 19 to 22 July. The Kilmore Quay Seafood festival in County Wexford is hard to beat both for atmosphere, thatched cottages and a harbour full of fishing boats, and taste. But if you’re after something with a full-on local flavour, then try the Kilkeel Fish Fest on the August
Bank Holiday Weekend in County Down.
Live music, surf boards, sandcastles and food festivals aside though, we still appreciate the simplicity of a sand-meets-sea horizon.
What you bring to our base beach ingredients will just be the cherry on top of your novelty sunglasses.