Top 10 things to see and do in 2016
From investigating the glorious heritage, architecture and lush green landscapes of Ireland's Ancient East to letting your taste buds guide you at one of the many world-class Irish food festivals planned for next year, 2016 will offer an abundance of things to see and do. Whether it's pushing yourself to the limit on a uniquely Irish adventure race along the Wild Atlantic Way or whizzing along on our very own version of the Orient Express, it could be 12 months to live long in the memory.
Reacquaint yourself with Kilmainham
Much of the focus of the centenary of The Rising will centre on Kilmainham Gaol, and its guided tours are among the best you'll ever experience. The area outside the gaol and the adjoining courthouse has been given an impressive makeover of late, and there's so much else to explore in this corner of Dublin 8 including the landscaped grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham and the symmetrical beauty of the War Memorial Garden, a short walk away in Islandbridge.
Explore Ireland's Ancient East
Get off the beaten track in Ireland's Ancient East to explore lush green landscapes, dip into 5,000 years of history and hear stories from some of the best storytellers in the world. Experience bustling towns and quaint villages, drive leafy roads through rolling valleys and explore meandering rivers and mountains that once sheltered our ancestors. Soak up the stunning architecture of our great houses, magnificent castles and spiritual places and visit design centres showcasing unique art and crafts.
Take a fabulous food tour
Ireland's reputation for excellent restaurants and top-quality ingredients is enhanced every year and our love of food is captured by the mushrooming guided food tours taking place across Ireland. The Burren Food Trail takes in a host of artisan food experiences from the Burren Smokehouse and Hazel Mountain Chocolate to Linnane's Lobster Bar, while Dublin's Tapas Trail offers a celebration of Spanish cooking in the south inner city.
Build up an appetite at a food festival
If the food trails above whet your appetite, why not plan a visit to one of the 50 or so food festivals planned for next year? Many are firmly established on the culinary calendar including the Clarinbridge Oyster Festival in Galway while others are fast becoming an essential to-do for Irish gourmets, including the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival in the vibrant fishing village of Howth.
Investigate a museum with a difference
Our long established museums are justly acclaimed, but there has been a proliferation of specialist museums of late that are ripe for investigation 2016. How about the Irish Rock 'N' Roll Museum in Temple Bar Dublin, with its extensive Phil Lynott collection, marking the 30th anniversary of his death? Or the Waterford Museum of Treasures in Waterford city, recently shortlisted for the European Museum of the Year award.
Savour where sea meets land in the West
The Wild Atlantic Way has fired the imagination of many of us since its launch in 2014, and with 2,500km of roadways there is so much to see. Explore the magnificence of the Sligo coastline, especially the unspoilt surrounds of Mullaghmore, and drive into Donegal where the majestic Malin Head captures a life shaped by the magnificent Atlantic.
Catch the thrills of music in the great outdoors
Ireland punches well above its weight when it comes to music festivals, with Electric Picnic long established as one of Europe's best and the more recently created Longitude, in Dublin's Marlay Park, fast becoming a favourite. Next year will see the return of such popular boutique festivals as Body & Soul at Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath, and Indiependence at Deer Farm, Mitchelstown, Co Cork.
Experience the thrills of an adventure race
Take on the challenge of Achill ROAR - the high adrenaline race featuring off-road running, cycling and either kayaking or cycling - the choice is yours. It will take place on our largest island in September and offers three levels of competition, depending on your fitness level. The following month will see one of our premier adventure events, the Killarney Adventure Race, test the mettle of amateur athletes in the stunning surrounds of Killarney National Park.
Take an unforgettable train journey
Luxury train travel in Ireland will become a reality in 2016 with the launch of Belmond Grand Hibernian. From the people who operate the world-famous Orient-Express, this exquisite train service will arrive here in August and will feature on-board accommodation inspired by Dublin's Georgian architecture, the finest of Irish food and itineraries involving all major cities.
Let fiction inspire your Irish travels
Dublin's One City One Book initiative has been running for more than a decade and aims to celebrate a work of fiction indelibly linked with the city. Lia Mills' 1916-set novel Fallen is the choice for next year, and can help you see the city differently. Let Colm Toibin's Nora Webster and Sarah McInerney's The Glorious Heresies inspire you to see, respectively, Enniscorthy and Cork city, with fresh eyes.
For more great ideas about things to do in 2016, see www.discoverireland.ie #thisisLIVING
Story by entertainment.ie | 11:35 | Friday 11th December 2015 | Escapes