Picturesque Ireland reveals its hidden gems during autumn

Dunluce Castle

Autumnal hues bring out the best of Ireland’s natural beauty including Game of Thrones Territory in Northern Ireland while fun-filled festivals set the stage for an action-packed experience for all travellers.

Escape the Middle Eastern heat and  embark on an unforgettable journey to the picturesque Island of Ireland this Autumn. Every September, the emblematic green hues of the Emerald Isle turn to a rich tapestry of red and gold, and long days of sunlight give way to dusky evenings. Mild temperatures offer the perfect setting to embark on nature walks, explore Ireland’s numerous attractions and breathe in the crisp North Atlantic air.

Ideal for the UAE explorer seeking a holiday filled with new experiences, Ireland boasts a host of activities to suit all tastes. Citizens of the UAE can travel visa-free for stays under 90 days and other nationalities can apply for a tourist visa, from VFS Global.

Cultural, music and sporting events pack the calendar, offering visitors an array of activities from dusk to dawn. Spirited shopping streets in Ireland’s towns and cities offer the perfect place to indulge in retail therapy. From high-end luxury in Brown Thomas and Kildare Village to vintage finds in Dublin’s Temple Bar and handcrafted artisan pieces from endless boutiques and craft shops; Ireland is a true shopper’s paradise.

The untamed countryside makes for an idyllic rural escape to savour moments of tranquillity. With Game of Thrones fever in the air as the prequel House of Dragon launches, fans of the series can relive their favourite scenes from different filming locations in Northern Ireland.

With direct daily flights from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi starting from AED3,445 return, the beauty of the Island of Ireland is easily accessible to visitors from the UAE in just 7.5 hours.

Here are just a few of the things one can expect to experience in Ireland in Autumn:

Music and Food Festivals
An artistic expression of Ireland’s rich culture of food, music, creativity and the arts, the Island of Ireland’s festivals are unparalleled on the global stage. Every Autumn, Ireland’s cities and towns play host to some of the biggest events in the cultural calendar with an unmissable line-up of events.

For foodies, West is best. Taste-buds will be truly tingled at events such as Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival (23rd – 25th September) where visitors are invited to savour a true taste of Ireland’s oceans at the annual festival. Celebrating Galway’s rich annual oyster harvest, (in season from September – April), the festival features The Irish and World Oyster Opening or ‘shucking’, as well as top-class entertainment, street parades and seafood trails.

If that’s not enough, The Dingle Food Festival (30th September - 2nd October) in the stunning county of Kerry, includes cookery demonstrations, food trails, over 50 market stalls, workshops, street entertainment, children’s events and beverage tastings from one of Ireland’s most picturesque fishing villages.

Paying homage to Ireland’s rich culture of creativity, is the Belfast International Arts which, this year, will celebrate its 60th year. This month-long festival features performances, exhibitions and shows across music, theatre, dance, visual arts and much more with the country’s leading emerging and established talents.

Music lovers can get into the groove at the iconic Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, Ireland’s biggest Jazz festival taking place from 28th – 31st October. This exciting weekend will bring together around 1,000 musicians from over 30 Irish countries playing at over 80 venues throughout the city.

Theatre fans can get close to the action at Dublin Theatre Festival, Europe’s oldest specialised theatre festival taking place from the September 29 – October 16.  This two-week festival will see a variety of captivating theatre performances take to the stages of Dublin’s numerous theatres and performance venues.

Uncover Ireland’s Fauna and Marine Life
Lying on the western edge of Europe, Ireland is ideally located to experience the dramatic autumn seabird passage as birds migrate from the breeding grounds in Northern Europe out into the Atlantic Ocean. This unique location makes Ireland the perfect place to watch countless species including Canadian geese, Icelandic whooper swans and Eurasian golden orioles taking flight in their journey.

Ireland has over 7,500km of coastline, creating the perfect setting to catch sight of incredible marine life, including whales. Whale-watching is a captivating activity visitors to Ireland can enjoy from a chartered boat. Humpbacks, minke and even the occasional orca can all be spotted doing their aquatic acrobatics along the Wild Atlantic Way, one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world at a distance of  2,500km.

Discover Westeros
With the launch of the show’s prequel, House of Dragons, Game of Thrones fever is at all-time high.

Only in Ireland will fans of the award-winning series have the unique opportunity to relive their favourite show in real life. Northern Ireland is Game of Thrones territory and home to countless Seven Kingdoms filming locations. The Game of Thrones Studio Tour in Banbridge, Co. Antrim offers visitors an exclusive insight to the filming sets and locations of the award-winning drama.

The eerie mysticism of Game of Thrones is played out within Northern Ireland’s glens, castles, caves and coastlines, where bruised autumn skies add to the atmosphere. From the caves of ‘Riverlands’ in County Fermanagh to the iconic ‘Dark Hedges’ in County Antrim, visitors will instantly feel immersed in the hit HBO show and be transported to Westeros. All destinations are within close proximity to Belfast and can be reached easily on a group tour or by private transport.

Enjoy a Traditional Music Session
Few places embody the conviviality of Irish culture better than the pub; where visitors can kick back against the backdrop of a blazing fire and energetic music. Traditional Irish music using native instruments captures the old-world charm of the Island and brings to life the culture of creativity that has become synonymous with Ireland.

All year round, visitors to Ireland can enjoy traditional Irish music from one of Ireland’s endless pubs, however, it is Autumn, when the evening air turns crisp, that the warmth of the pub truly beckons. From The Temple Bar, The Old Storehouse and Porterhouse in the thriving Temple Bar area, Dublin to An Pucan, the Quays, The Crane Bar in the stunning city of Galway, each Irish pub delivers a different but equally enthralling experience that will leave visitors with endless memories of traditional Ireland.

Dancing with the Northern Lights
One of Ireland’s best kept secrets is the phenomenon of the Aurealis Borealis which can be observed from numerous locations across Ireland’s West and North Coast. Locations such as Inishowen, Malin Head, Dunree Head and Sliabh Liag in Donegal (Ireland’s North West Coast) are the perfect vantage point to bear witness to the mesmerising lights which beam across the night sky.

For a truly captivating experience, visitors can set up in Grianán of Aileach (Greenan Fort), also in County Donegal, a huge 2,000-year-old ring fort sitting 250 metres/820ft above sea level. This Neolithic hillside fort is just a short drive away from the village of Burt and offers panoramic views across the Inishowen Peninsula.  

Explore Forgotten Ireland
The beauty of Ireland is such that there remain endless sights, attractions and places of natural beauty that have been untouched and remain off the main tourist trail.

On Mayo’s Achill Island the Deserted Village provides a haunting reminder of times past when famine swept through the island. Sheltered under the slopes of Slievemore and hidden from the twenty-first century, this tranquil corner of a remote island is a perfect place for seekers of peace and quiet reflection.

With such an endless selection of activities for the whole family to enjoy, there is no better time to book a trip to Ireland, than Autumn. Emirates and Etihad offer direct flights to Dublin, starting from AED3,445 ($938).

Citizens of the UAE can travel visa-free for stays under 90 days and other nationalities traveling from the UAE can apply for a tourist visa from VFS Global. – TradeArabia News Service