As the various parts of the year go by, Ireland feels fairly quiet and slow in February. The country and the hemisphere are in the grips of winter, so people are forgiven for taking it easy indoors and staying warm.
Most people think of visiting a destination when it’s summer and the sun is out. In much of Europe, this is possible. How many countries can boast that it is just as charming in the cold, wet winter as it is in the heat of summer?
Anyone who has been to Ireland will tell you it is a charming place that retains its charm despite the cold, and it actually seems to take on a character of its own in the low season. In a sense, The Emerald Isle might feel more like the Ireland of our imaginations in February than at any other time.
Is Ireland Worth Visiting in February?
This is a country with a beautiful air of mystery and wonder no matter the season. Ireland is always green, as they say, and the sights and sounds feel even more exhilarating in their way — even in winter. The country certainly has its own library of weird and fun facts about Ireland to boast of.
Ireland is generally considered a rainy and colder country, and in February, that’s undoubtedly truer than most other times. It is also a time of sports, winter festivals, and some odd and specifically Irish activities.
The weather thins out the crowds, and you can see that in the outer-lying areas, mountains, and coasts. If you do decide to venture out into the hills, mountains, trails, and elements, you will likely be rewarded with a unique experience or two.
Another great bonus is that you will likely find a great deal or two for any open accommodation or facility. In this regard, it is worth investigating the smaller towns and cities for great deals.
Weather in Ireland in February
Welcome to a truly wet winter – February is one of Ireland’s coldest and wettest months. Of course, Ireland is also known for its wind. You are not likely to see snow unless you’re high up in the mountains, which isn’t really highly recommended (unless skiing is on your Ireland in December itinerary).
Dublin sees almost daily rainfall in February, with temperatures ranging from 37°F (3°C) to around 44°F (7°C). It will get slightly colder in Ireland in March, but February remains the second coldest month of the year.
Similar conditions exist in Belfast around this time, but note that you might only see the sun for around two hours per day.
What to Pack for Ireland in February
All this talk of rain and wind begs the question: What should you pack in preparation for an awesome getaway to Ireland in February? Thankfully, there’s a handy list of things to remember, and it’s right here:
- A warm waterproof jacket or two
- Thermal or long underwear
- Heavy trousers (jeans are ok) and a woolly jumper or warm sweater
- A lighter, long sleeve top or cardigan
- A strong pair of rain-resistant walking boots or shoes, as you might walk around, even in the city
- A woolly cap or hat, scarf, and fleece-lined gloves
- If you are a dress wearer, some tights will come in handy
Remember that the idea is that you dress in layers. Most establishments you visit will have heating, and you will likely want to take off a heavy coat layer in your hotel or restaurant. However, you’ll definitely want to wear it on your way in and out.
Note also that despite the rain, umbrellas aren’t really that useful in the high winds. This means they won’t really be that usable in the typical Irish storm weather.
Events & Places to Attend in Ireland in February
As mentioned, just because it’s winter in Ireland doesn’t mean it’s boring. There are still several types of events going on and plenty of interesting places to visit. Bear in mind that winter is a big sports season. Rugby, Gaelic football, and football (soccer) are all in full swing. The main cities will host several of these events and more.
Dublin in February
With winter in full swing, sports, whiskey, and movies should be on your agenda. And in Dublin in winter, it can be.
Go to a Sports Game
Rugby is very popular in certain parts of Europe, and one of those parts is Ireland. There are several clubs in Ireland and Dublin, but you’ll be looking for a provincial game, which is as close to being pre-national level as you’ll get.
Specifically, when it comes to Dublin, Leinster is the home team, and most games will see a turnout of very enthusiastic fans supporting their team. Regardless of the weather, it’s a fun, grand day out.
If rugby isn’t your thing for some reason, you could always try some fascinatingly unique Gaelic football matches or a regular football game. Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers, or St Patrick’s are the teams you want to go and see.
Dates: Most weekends and some weekdays in February
Dublin International Film Festival
DIFF is fast developing a reputation for being one of Europe’s best. Screenings are spread across the city. Not only is it a chance to see some of the premiere films scheduled for global release, but you’ll also see some one-of-a-kinds here.
As Ireland isn’t a particularly large movie market, many minor films don’t receive a full theatrical release in Ireland. Sometimes, however, these films make the festival. Of course, there’s always the chance you’ll meet a celebrity, star, or filmmaker or two.
Beyond the films, there are fun quizzes, panel discussions, and meet and greets to enjoy.
Dates: 23 February – 4 March 2023
Jameson Whiskey Distillery
Naturally, the most famous brand name whiskey HQ in Dublin is a year-round attraction with events and activities. In the cold of February, you may even develop a deeper appreciation for this particular nectar of the gods.
Many regard the Jameson distillery guided tour as the best one in the world, whether for its personality and character or enjoyment level.
St. Brigid’s Day and Week
The bulk of St Brigid’s day takes place in Kildare, close to Dublin. On February 1st, the town celebrates the female saint by hosting a gathering at St Brigid’s well. For a week following this, the town and surroundings see several activities and events in her honor, starting with a gathering at St Brigid’s Well.
The Catholic-themed celebrations also happen to note the imminent arrival of spring. This makes it a good time for those of faith to reflect and look forward to new beginnings.
You may even find certain St. Brigid’s day events taking place in Dublin itself or elsewhere in the country.
Saint Brigid of Kildare is the mother saint of Ireland. She was legendarily generous and gave to those in need. At one point, it was said that she even gave away the King’s sword. The story also goes that she once gave away all her mother’s butter stores, which were then replenished after she prayed.
Dates: From 1 February 2023
Belfast in February
Belfast is traditionally a city known for its museums, fine food, and as a living commemoration of the history of the Irish Troubles. It goes beyond that, though. The regular attractions St George’s Market and Belfast’s Michelin-starred restaurants are supplemented by a fine selection of key indoor sites to visit.
Although the castle as it is now was built in the 1860s, it is on the site of the original castle, built by the Normans in the 1100s. Aside from being a popular site for events, the castle offers afternoon tea.
Belfast castle sits in Cave Hill Country park, which offers marvelous walks. When the weather is too rough, try the visitor’s center for some info and interesting fact-finding.
The Ulster Museum is now 50 years old. You can explore art, history, and science here, lots of it related to Ireland and its history. For kids, the discovery center can occupy hours of learning. Of key interest, though, is the fascinating and often tragic history of the struggle for independence and conflict known as The Troubles.
You may be lucky enough to experience a few days with weather decent enough to at least try the Causeway Coast Tour. This special region of Northern Ireland is one of my favorite parts of the whole country. It’s a demarcated district along the coast, known for scenic walks and oceanside wildlife viewing in the summer.
There are also various sites, monuments, ruins, and runes. If a day seems pleasant enough, it’s worth keeping this option in reserve. Remember that weather can turn, though, so keep an eye on local forecasts.
That said, even on cold days, it may be fun to explore the castles on the route, like Glenarm Castle, or Carrickfergus Castle, or warm up with a taster at the Bushmills Distillery.
Dates: Daily, weather dependant
Galway in February
Keen observers will note that Galway retains its green hue even in winter. So the additional rainfall simply spurs the fauna into an even more vibrant mood. Galway and its surroundings always seem to come to life no matter the time of year. The bay on the west coast is generally known as one of the most hospitable and fun towns in all of Ireland, even at the end of winter.
Galway International Rally
If you like cars and racing, you may want to spare a day to check out the Corrib Oil Galway International Rally. 2023 will be the 51st edition. It runs over two days, forming part of the longer year-long Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.
The exciting driving around the 15 stages are quite thrilling for rally enthusiasts, who flock to the area by the thousands. So, if you are thinking of going, it’s best to get your bookings and accommodation sorted out early.
Dates: 4-5 February 2023
More Things To Do in Ireland in February
Beyond those three major cities, Ireland has a lot to look forward to in general.
Of course, it’s February, which means Valentine’s Day. All of Ireland tends to make a big romantic deal out of the celebration, and what could be more romantic than love on the Emerald Isle?
Bonus fact: The actual St. Valentine is buried in Dublin, making the observation much closer to fine.
In reality, though, you can celebrate wherever you might be in Ireland.
Dates: 14 February 2023
The Gathering, Killarney
Ireland has a proud heritage and tradition when it comes to its people and especially its music. The Gathering celebrates this with a mini-festival of dance and music rooted in the old culture. Besides simply enjoying the music, you can take dance classes, try a musical instrument workshop, and participate in all kinds of interactive lectures, concerts, and meet and greets.
Dates: 23-26 February 2023
Concertina Cruinniú, Miltown Malbay
A sister festival to its famous summer fest, the winter edition of the traditional music and dance fest focuses on the concertina instrument. That does seem rather specific, but the history around the instrument and its role in trad music is rich and varied.
Aside from the formal concerts, workshops, and lectures, there’s hardly a pub or public space that doesn’t feature an informal and spontaneous performance by the traditionalists.
Dates: 17-19 February 2023
Tipperariana Book Fair, Fethard
Books are simply the greatest thing ever invented, at least for some people. A book fair is like heaven on earth for them, and the Tipperariana attracts dealers and buyers from all over Ireland.
Lots of “civilians” also bring their valued books here to be appraised, a free service offered by many book dealers.
Dates: 12 February 2023
Now it’s time to plan out the events you want to do when visiting Ireland in February!