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Why Travel to Ireland in the Off Season?

By Dawn Rainbolt
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1. Avoid the Summer Crowds

Hiking the Cliffs of Moher in the off season can be a much quieter experience.

Whether your clients are looking to explore some of Ireland’s most iconic destinations or hoping to get a bit off the beaten track, Ireland’s off season is the best time of year to go. Instead of visiting the Giant’s Causeway, the Cliffs of Moher, the Dingle Peninsula or the Ring of Kerry amidst throngs of people and selfie-sticks during the height of summer, visit Ireland during the shoulder season to explore these amazing places with fewer other fellow travellers.

If your clients prefer to get a bit more off the beaten path by visiting the little-known corners of Ireland during the off season, it will mean that your clients can enjoy these spectacular landscapes and coastlines nearly all to themselves!

2. Celebrate Halloween in the Country it Originated

Halloween Ireland origins Samhain

Samhain is the original Halloween – an ancient pagan festival originating in Ireland.

Halloween is an Irish holiday? Yes indeed it is. The original version of the holiday was a bit darker, deriving from an ancient pagan festival. Called Samhain (pronounced “sah-when”), participants believed that on October 31st, the doorway between our world and the other world (inhabited by spirits and fairies) was opened. In order to counteract any malevolent spirits, offerings were left out. People decked themselves in elaborate costumes to avoid recognition from the wandering spirits on the eve of October 31st.

The Irish even invented pumpkin carving! As pumpkins are native to North America, during Samhain the Irish would carve grotesque faces on turnips – which are actually far scarier than pumpkins!

Though far less commercial than in North America, Halloween (or Samhain) is still celebrated in Ireland, and it is a wonderful, if a bit spooky, time a year to visit. Many hotels will put on activities, especially for those travelling with children, and there are also various festivals throughout the country – such as the Halloween festival at Derry. It’s a pretty fascinating time of year to experience Ireland.

3. Stay in Your Pick of Accommodation & Room

Evening at Adare Manor. It’s usually easier to secure or modify accommodation choices during the off season, making it easier to get what you want.

Unfortunately when travelling during summer, especially when making last minute bookings or changes to an itinerary, securing the right accommodation and room type can be difficult.

However, during the shoulder season when there are less travellers, accommodations have a lot more flexibility. Making eleventh hour changes or even booking last-minute trips is far more feasible in the off season. As there are fewer guests, it’s easier to secure the exact accommodation and room type that your clients want.

Alongside that, shoulder season accommodation is better value for money. Whether saving on accommodation means that your clients can add a bit more adventure in to their itinerary, book a nice spa, enjoy a bit of Ireland’s gourmet cooking, or splurge on a nicer room, the trip can only get better!

4. Marvel at the Brilliant Colours of Autumn

During Autumn, Connemara’s rugged hills erupt in brilliant golds.

Though Ireland is no New England, Autumn is a gorgeous time of year on our little island. Known as the Emerald Isle for all its greenness, during the autumn, Ireland instead turns a lovely shade of gold.

Hike in the forests of Glendalough or Killarney and the southwest for traditional brilliant golds and reds of autumn woodlands. Or marvel at the once-purple heathery hills of Wicklow and Connemara, now dipped in a beautiful shade of gold. The dramatic lighting, particularly during early morning, twilight and sunset provides for some beautiful landscapes – perfect for budding photographers!

5. Ireland's West Coast At its Most Dramatic

Surfing in Ireland

Some activities are actually better in Autumn. Surfing, for instance, is best watched in Autumn, as this is when the big waves hit the shores. Head to the northwest for some of the biggest waves (Sligo and Donegal tend to get the cream of the crop when it comes to spectacular waves), or even try your hand at one of the surf schools.

Many of Ireland’s Neolithic sites are aligned with the sun and skies. While the summer solstice is an important date, it’s also the most popular alignment among visitors. If you’re looking for a unique experience, you may want to try visiting a neolithic-era monument aligned with the Autumn equinox or the winter solstice. Even if you’re not here during a specific alignment, hiking the hills to these remote places topped with ancient monuments at a time of year where there are few other visitors will be an unforgettable experience!

As a general rule, most activity providers are less busy during the shoulder seasons, meaning that you’ll have more choice, flexibility and time to spend adventuring! In autumn, you’ll have the ability to easily book the experience or activity where and when your clients want.

6. First Choice of Guides

Travelling in the off season means there are more guides available.

During the off season, there is far more guide availability. Not only does it make it easier to take on last minute bookings, it also means that travellers can have a say in what guide they travel with! Repeat clients may have a specific guide in mind, and choosing to travel later in the year makes it easier to match your clients with their preferred guide.

Even if they don’t have a specific guide in mind, booking a trip later in the year means that there is greater guide availability to match just the right guide with the trip your clients have requested.

Meet the Author: Dawn Rainbolt

American by birth but European in spirit, Dawn has called the US, Costa Rica, Spain, England, Poland, France and now Ireland home over the years. While she has travelled to more than 30 countries, she has fallen in love with the rich Irish culture, intriguing history, ancient castles, cheery locals and sweeping landscapes of Ireland.

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