When to Go to Northern Ireland

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When to Go to Northern Ireland

If the weather is good—and most of the year it isn't—touring Northern Ireland can be a real pleasure. But the place is so green for a reason: lots of rain, which means you should certainly pack your Burberry. Because you're on the coast, even on bright summer days you can feel the chill from the sea, so it's best to wear layers. Needless to say, the weather from May to September is a little friendlier to tourists.

When planning your visit, remember that Northern Ireland is a great place for festivals: almost every town has its own theme festival of some sort. The Belfast Festival (www.belfastfestival.com), held in October at Queen's University, is one of the biggest, with a packed program of arts, music, and literature. Belfast's Cathedral Arts Quarter Festival (www.cqaf.com), held late April–early May, uses established, new, and unusual venues throughout the oldest part of the city center for two weeks of music, theater, and visual arts. In early April the Titanic Festival commemorates the anniversary of the sinking in 1912 of RMS Titanic, built in Belfast and the focus of renewed interest following the opening of the new Belfast Titanic Visitor Centre in 2012. Féile an Phobail, the West Belfast Festival (www.feilebelfast.com), held in early August, is a 10-day schedule of events with a political and international theme. Hillsborough International Oyster Festival (www.hillsboroughoysterfestival.com), held in September, is three days of good food and entertainment. For a rundown on many other festivals, contact the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

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