Dublin can't always boast hot, balmy conditions in summer months, but if you're a fan of the outdoors, May-August are the warmest months, when markets spring up all over the city and our coastal towns and villages are at their most vibrant. Otherwise, any trip to Dublin should be planned around countless free cultural events and festivals that take place all year round - I've listed the highlights here. Dublin also comes to life whenever there's an international soccer or rugby match on in either Croke Park or Aviva Stadium . If you want peace and quiet, avoid the major events, as Dublin city centre fills up quickly.
Dublin Book Festival: Book worms and literary lovers, this festival is gaining in popularity each year, and this year, has been extended from three to five days (March 2-6th www.dublinbookfestival.com). In venues all over Dublin, such as the City Hall, The National Library of Ireland and the Project Arts Centre, more than 60 of Ireland’s top authors, poets and journalists flock to Dublin to conduct 50 readings, debates, book launches, workshops and events for children.
St Patrick's Day festival parade: Dublin city explodes for our biggest international export, the St Patrick's Day festival parade (www.stpatricksfestival.ie) on March 17 and crazy festivities run until March 20. The festival programme is jam packed with events to suit all ages so make sure to check online and book ahead.
Dine in Dublin: Foodies this is for you - food is king from March 21-27 when 50 of Dublin's best restaurants offer their best value rates of €25 or €30 per person for a three course dinner menu, this is a 20% saving on á la carte prices. The event is so popular is also takes place in October. (www.dineindublin.ie)
International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival: Founded in 2004 to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Oscar Wilde, in his native city, this event (May 3-16) showcases Irish and international works with a gay theme or relevance, and the festival has grown and grown to become one of the largest of its kind in the world.
Dublin Writer's Festival: Writers and lovers of literature, get thee to Dublin for The Dublin Writers Festival (May 31-June 5, www.dublinwritersfestival.com), a spectacular Arts Council initiative hosting live readings, discussions and talks to celebrate the best Irish and international Writers. The six-day literary festival features more than 40 writers who read from their recent work and take part in organised discussions and debates about their writing.
Bloom in the Park: The Phoenix Park comes alive for Bloom each year on June 2 and this is one of the highlights of the year for garden enthusiasts and green fingers. The colourful event provides lots of inspiration for outdoor living and garden designs and the Phoenix Park is at its liveliest.
Taste of Dublin: Lovers of food and wine (www.tastefestival.ie), this is the city's best outdoor food and drink festival and, if the sun is shining, which it usually is in June, there’s no better place. The setting for this weekend of gourmet indulgence is the beautiful Iveagh Gardens – Dublin’s best kept secret. The festival takes place June 9-12 and is a great opportunity to sample Dublin in its best al fresco mood.
AIB Street Performance World Championship: One of Dublin's biggest family gatherings, Merrion Square comes alive from June 16-19 for this spectacular event. Kids watch in awe as contortionists, comedians, jesters and gymnasts perform on the street and inside Merrion gardens – free of charge. Each performer battles to become the AIB Street Performance World Champion and competition is fierce. Great fun, especially if the sun is shining.
Fringe festival: Brilliant, brilliant times - I love this event. Dublin city centre comes alive from September 10-25 for the explosive and free Fringe festival (www.fringefest.com), Ireland’s largest performing music and arts festival. Gorillas, snakes, contortionists, sassy hoola hoopers, elite cocktail mixers, robots and lions are just a few of the characters that hold Dublin to ransom at Fringe. Enjoy music, dance, street theatre, puppetry, visual arts and comedy.
Arthur’s day: If you’re a fan of the black stuff, this relatively new initiative takes place each year to celebrate the life and legacy of Arthur Guinness (www.guinness.com). It’s a fun day of music, comedy and live cultural events held on September 23. There’s a toast to Arthur at 5.59pm.
Culture Night: Dublin city bursts into life again the following day for Culture Night (September 24; www.culturenight.ie) when more than 120 arts and cultural organisations open their doors until late with 100s of free events, tours, talks and performances - fantastic free fun.
Dine in Dublin: The autumnal colours paint Dublin at its prettiest, and leafy canal banks are at their best for walking and cycling Dublin in October. Plus, foodies this is for you - food is king from October 18-24 for the second annual Dine in Dublin (www.dineindublin.ie) when 50 top restaurants again offer the best deals of the year.
Oktoberfest: After your meal, head down to the Docklands for Oktoberfest (September 30-October 10; www.oktoberfest-dublin.com) to enjoy late night revelry with hot food outdoors, music and dancing in a marquee style tent, and, of course, endless beer in gigantic beer steins in Dublin 1.
12 Days of Christmas: Dublin's Grafton Street is lit up in style for Christmas and the 12 Days of Christmas (December 12 -23; Dublin 1; www.dublindocklands.ie) is a charming set up in a sparkling waterside village with more than 80 market traders selling a range of festive goodies, gifts, seasonal food and stocking fillers.
Christmas and New Year: Celebrate Christmas at Farmleigh House in the Phoenix Park (Dublin 8; www.farmleigh.ie) with food markets, storytelling for the children and plenty of carol singing to get you into the spirit every weekend in December and if you're around to ring in the New Year, there's no better place to do it than in the medieval surroundings of the awe-inspiring Christchurch Cathedral for Christchurch Bells in Dublin 8 (before midnight December 31; www.cccdub.ie).
The Temple Bar TradFest: Kick the January blues to touch with live toe-tapping concerts, pub trails, parades, marching pipe bands, a playground, film screenings, street performers, a restaurant trail and free street entertainment. The festival also supports up-and-coming performers (January 26-30; www.templebartrad.com).
Jameson International Film Festival: Movie buffs will love The Jameson International Film Festival (February 17-27, www.jdiff.com) – the best of its kind in Ireland – when cinemas all over Dublin open their doors for 11 days of movie packed days and nights. Showcasing the latest Irish and international talent, as well as movie master-classes, public interviews, panel discussions and red carpet screenings, this is a must do for fans of the big screen.