Shine a Light on Summer: May Bank Holiday Festival 2019

Shine a Light on Summer: May Bank Holiday Festival 2019

Great Lighthouses of Ireland invite you to grab your sunglasses and kick off summer 2019 at the Shine a Light on Summer Festival this May Bank Holiday weekend!

Irish lighthouses have for many centuries been the great beacons of our coastline, helping seafarers safely find their way. So what better way to celebrate their role in maritime life and their fascinating history than with the Great Lighthouses of Ireland’s fourth annual Shine a Light on Summer Festival. 

With last year’s festival having wowed everyone with music, dancing, crafts, culinary treats, technology demonstrations, lighthouse tours and plenty more, this year is again set to delight festival-goers of all ages with all manner of maritime fun.

Taking place on the May Bank Holiday weekend – Friday 3rd to Monday 6th May 2019 – this family-friendly festival is being celebrated many of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland.

What’s it all about?

The ideal way to get everyone into the summer spirit, this fun festival lets you dive into captivating coastal experiences, enjoy maritime, craft and technology demonstrations and even discover more about the world that lies beneath the waves.

The lighthouses taking part in the festival include three located along the Wild Atlantic WayTeach Solais Fhánada (Fanad Head Lighthouse), Donegal, Valentia Island Lighthouse, Kerry (ideal if you’re heading to Ballyferriter or Portmagee for the intergalactic May the Fourth Be With You Festival) and Loop Head Lighthouse, Clare; as well as Rathlin West Light on Northern Ireland’s Antrim coast and Hook Lighthouse in Wexford, situated along Ireland’s Ancient East. He

Partnering with Leave No Trace, promoters of responsible outdoor recreation, Great Lighthouses of Ireland invites you all to come and experience these wonderful coastal spots and enjoy the country’s rich heritage this May.

Watch this space – full programme details coming soon!


Photography Competition

Want to win a unique stay at one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland? Simply capture your best summer fun photo and enter it into our ‘Great Lighthouse, Great Fun’ Photography Competition. Find out more about it here.

Festival Highlights





Valentia Island, County Kerry

In County Kerry, Valentia Island Lighthouse will host a day of fun activities on Saturday 4th May – perfect for anyone enjoying Portmagee and Ballyferriter’s May the 4th Be With You Festival that same weekend!



Image by Stephen Power


Take your pick of everything from guided lighthouse tours, drawing competitions, photo exhibitions and treasure hunts; to fascinating ‘Ted Talks’ with former lighthouse keeper Teddy Kennedy, Lego workshops, face painting and barbecue fun.



Image by Stephen Power


Top it all off with a sea synergy workshop to learn all about life beneath the lighthouse, a talk on the birdlife of the South Kerry coast and of course, don’t miss the RNLI life boat and sea rescue helicopter performing manoeuvres around the lighthouse too!

A shuttle bus from Knightstown to the lighthouse will be available all day.

Find out more about Valentia Island Lighthouse


Hook Lighthouse, County Wexford

In beautiful County Wexford, Hook Lighthouse, the world’s oldest, intact working lighthouse, will be celebrating all things nautical.

On Saturday 4th May kick off the family fun by joining scores of walkers in a 20km local fundraiser to Hike to the Hook. Pirate Pat and the Hook Band of Pirates will be on hand for seafaring fun throughout the day, and for the truly daring there’s Medieval combat school and games courtesy of Montague Heritage Services. They’ll be showcasing the life and times of Medieval Ireland, and even bring the Norman Knight William Marshal – the gent responsible for building Hook Lighthouse – to life!




On the afternoon of Sunday 5th May, members of the public are invited to the lighthouse’s cobbled yard to reflect and remember all those lost at sea. The Dunbrody Archers will be offering exciting archery ‘try outs’ over Sunday and Monday for anyone with a keen eye. While a unique Sunset and Food Tour Experience will also be on offer exclusively to ticket-holders at the lighthouse at 7.45pm. Visitors can enjoy a one-off opportunity to take a bespoke tour of the lighthouse, savour the delights of seafood and a locally-sourced buffet along with Irish Mead and Prosecco in the Lighthouse Watchroom. And to top it all off? You’ll soak up majesty of the sun setting over the Celtic Sea. An adult-only experience, limited tickets to this special event are available here.

On Monday 6th May there’s plenty more fun and games to enjoy, with the Dunbrody Archers again showing you how to take aim. The coastguard and RNLI will be on-site all weekend too, with fascinating demonstrations for those looking to learn more about safety at sea and maritime life. At 3pm a Piper’s Lament will be performed by a member of the New Ross Pipe Band.

Find out more about Hook Lighthouse


Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre

In County Antrim our Northern Ireland partners (Royal Society for Protection of Birds) at Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre will also be taking part in the festival fun.

Enjoy a host of lively events across the whole weekend, from craft activities like making a giant lighthouse from recycled materials to the Rathlin West Treasure Quest – an exciting hunt around the lighthouse! Rainbow the puffin will also be there to meet and greet visitors over the weekend.

With an ‘upside-down’ lighthouse to explore, the centre’s 125 resident seabirds to meet, not to mention the tens of thousands of visiting birds like kittiwakes and razorbills nesting around the cliffs too, an unforgettable trip is on the cards.

Find out more about Rathlin West Light


Fastnet Lighthouse and Cape Clear Island

In County Cork, take a fantastic ferry ride to Cape Clear Island and around the iconic Fastnet Lighthouse!

Fastnet Rock Lighthouse or ‘Carrig Aonair’ (meaning “lonely Rock”) stands isolated in the invigorating Atlantic Ocean, 3.5 nautical miles southwest of Cape Clear Island, on the Wild Atlantic Way’s stunning West Cork stretch.



Operated by Cape Clear Ferries, for one day only on Sunday 5th May enjoy 20% off all Adult and Family tickets for a full-day Fastnet Lighthouse and Cape Clear Island tour!

Taking the ferry from from either of the idyllic local fishing villages of Baltimore and Schull, you’ll set sail over the waves and experience one of Ireland’s most recognisable lighthouses from the sea itself. For generations, the majestic and isolated Fastnet Rock has fired the imaginations of onlookers. Known as Ireland’s Teardrop, it was, for many thousands of emigrants, the last Irish structure seen as their ship carried them away to new lives in America.

On Sunday 5th May, you can take in its rugged beauty without a tear shed, by stepping aboard the Fastnet Tour! You’ll chart a course for Cape Clear – one of West Cork’s charming unspoilt Gaeltacht islands – to learn more about the famous lighthouse and spot lively dolphins with beautiful Roaringwater Bay as your backdrop.

At the picturesque North Harbour, either hop on the bus or walk to the Island’s Heritage Centre where you’ll discover tales of shipwrecks and learn just how Fastnet came to be built, taking in the touching memorials as you go. After some free time for lunch or a welcome cup of coffee, you’ll be back on board the ferry – circumnavigating the rock at close quarters twice – perfect for that once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

Find out more about Fastnet Lighthouse Tours

With all this and more happening around the coast this summer, why not plan a trip to one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland? Find everything you need to know here.


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