10 Irish summer festivals not to be missed! Kelly O'Brien's guide to the best Irish festivals 2012.

Top 10 Summer Festivals 2012

As you say goodbye to college life for another precious few months, it’s finally time to start planning your summer. If you’re staying in Ireland for these glorious months, what better way to celebrate than gathering up a few friends and heading off to a festival of your choice? Here’s a quick round-up of the best Ireland has to offer.  

1. Electric Picnic

When: August 31 – September 2
Where: Stradbally, Laois
How Much: €60 - €230

Electric Picnic is an annual arts-and-music festival which has been staged since 2004.

The Picnic has received widespread international acclaim, being described as "Ireland's version of Glastonbury". US magazine Billboard describing it as "a magnificent rock n roll circus, a textbook example of everything a festival should be" and Rolling Stone stating it "one of the best festivals we've ever been to”. Electric Picnic differs from other festivals in Ireland in that the music choice is more eclectic than the other mainstream events and there is more emphasis on quality festival services and a generally more positive and relaxed atmosphere. There is also an emphasis on eco-friendly initiatives.

Acts include Azalia Banks, The Cure, The Killers, Sigur Ros, Hot Chip, Ed Sheeran, The Horrors and many more. If you have your pick, go with this one.    

2. Indiependence

When: August 3 – 5
Where: Deer Farm, Mitchelstown, Cork
How Much: €60 - €99

Indiependence is one of the "little two" music festivals in Ireland, sharing many of its acts with Castlepalooza which is held on the same weekend in Tullamore, Offaly. Nevertheless, it is billed as the largest event of its kind in the south of Ireland.

The organiser claims that, after Oxegen and Electric Picnic, it is the biggest festival in Ireland and that there is no festival of this size in either Ireland or the UK that has a similar calibre of acts.

In its early incarnation, the festival was billed as Ireland's only free independent music festival. However, the festival disposed of its free status in 2009 by charging for entry. This year, there is an impressive line-up featuring Feeder, Delorentos, Jape, The Minutes, Royseven, Ham Sandwich and The Kanyu Tree.

3. Cat Laughs

When: May 31 – June 4
Where: Kilkenny City
How Much: €20 - €25 per show

Kilkenny City welcomes a host of internationally acclaimed comedians at The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival this summer. This year’s event sees much reduced ticket prices to compliment a stellar line-up including Jack Dee, Al Murray, Colin Murphy and Comedy Soccer Match.

4. Forbidden Fruit

When: June 2 – 4
Where: Dublin City Centre
How Much: €49.50 - €115

Forbidden Fruit takes place this year over the June bank holiday weekend, boasting 5 stages and a comedy tent! The non-camping event takes place over 3 days at the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern art, Kilmainham. The event is a mix of music, art, fashion along with some delicious food, creative craft stalls. Acts include Death Cab for Cutie and Ardal O’Hanlon of Father Ted fame.

5. Sea Sessions

When: June 29 – July 1
Where: Bundoran, Donegal
How Much: €79.95

Sea Sessions celebrates 5 years this year. The event provides an interesting mix of talented surfers in the seaside town of Bundoran, showcased alongside prime music acts including the Delorentos, Ham Sandwich and the Kaiser Chiefs.

6. Live at the Marquee

When: June 7 – July 5
Where: Cork
How Much: €15 - €76

Live at the Marquee is an annual music festival which takes place over multiple days in June and July.

The first event occurred in 2005 when Cork was the official European Capital of Culture. It was then decided to continue with the event in the years that followed. The line-up this year includes heavy hitters Imelda May, Justice, Dara O’Briain and The Coronas.

7. Gentlemen of the Road

When: June 9
Where: Salthill Park, Salthill, Galway
How Much: €49.50

Gentlemen of the Road seeks to visit locations not normally toured by bands and to promote local venues and entertain local people. The organisers are keen to point out the after parties will take place in local venues.  Salthill will host Gentlemen of the Road on June 9, which sees Mumford & Sons, The Vaccines, Zulu Winter and The Correspondents all take to the stage.

8. Body and Soul

When: June 22
Where: Ballinlough Castle, Westmeath
How Much: €99

Winner of “Best Small Festival 2011” at the Irish Festival Awards, Body and Soul this year boasts a three day event at Ballinlough Castle, Westmeath.

The Body and Soul Festival, now in its third year, exploded on to the summer scene in 2010 with its inaugural weekend at Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath. The event features some acoustic acts including the villagers, along with over 30 therapists to pamper your body and soul.

9. Listowel Writers Week

When: May 30 – June 3
Where: Listowel, Kerry
How Much: €100 per festival ticket, €175 per three day workshop

North Kerry is the birthplace of many of Ireland's most prominent writers past and present including Dr. John B Keane and Dr Bryan Mac Mahon, so it would be fitting that Listowel hosts a writers’ week! The weeklong festival was established in 1970 to celebrate those writers and to provide an opportunity for Irish Writers in general to develop their talents and meet new audiences. Prominent Irish writers have shared their skills in poetry, fiction, theatre, screen, writing for radio, children's literature and more recently workshops in song writing and comic writing have been added.

10. The Rose of Tralee

When: August 17 - 21
Where: Tralee, Kerry
How Much: Varies

The Rose of Tralee International Festival is one of Ireland's largest and longest running festivals. The heart of the festival is the selection of the Rose of Tralee which brings young women of Irish descent from around the world to County Kerry, Ireland for a global celebration of Irish culture. The festival also includes street entertainment, carnival, live concerts, theatre, circus, markets, funfair, fireworks and our internationally renowned Rose Parade. This year features performance from both Jedward and Royseven