This year’s Bealtaine Living Earth Festival celebrates Ireland’s biodiversity and natural heritage in the South East, with the assistance of expert guides.

South East Technological University’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Engagement Centre, Calmast is proud to partner with over 20 groups across the South East to deliver events in Waterford, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Wexford.

Announcing the jam-packed programme for the 18th edition of the festival, which takes place from the 13-22 of May, organisers say it contains something for everyone.

The festival aims to encourage people both young and old to explore the local heritage and biodiversity of the South East with expert guides. 

Festival highlights include a nature mandala workshop in the JFK Arboretum in New Ross Co Wexford on Saturday, 13 May. Families can enjoy building a giant mandala with the OPW guides in the Arboretum. Families will get the opportunity to enjoy a guided tour of the Wexford Seal Rescue facility with the chance to meet the adorable seal pups in care and learn their individual stories. 

On Sunday, 14 May, the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens will be hosting a historic tour of the gardens with a special focus on Tramore’s wildlife. 

On the 15, 18 and 19 of May, JFK Arboretum host bikes and biodiversity in conjunction with National Bike Week. Here you can learn about the various plant collections at JFK Arboretum at your leisure on two or three wheels. 

Why not join Head Gardener, Kevin Naughton at the JFK Arboretum on Wednesday, 17 May for a walking tour through the wildflower meadows and learn about the importance of bees for pollination. Later that day, Copper Coast Geopark’s geologist Robbie Galvin will lead a walk on Bunmahon beach and discuss the Copper Coast’s geological and social history. Denis Cullen leads two evening walks over the festival. The first on Wednesday, 17 May through Waterford city from Ballybricken to Kilbarry bog looking at the wildlife that co-exist in a busy city. The second will be on Friday, 19 May through Dunmore East woods and seafront where you can listen to the sounds of the woodland birds and use a bat detector to discover bats. The OPW welcomes Birdwatch Ireland’s Pat Durkin to lead the dusk chorus at Kilkenny Castle park on Thursday, 18 May. 

Kicking off the weekend on Friday, 19 May, the Copper Coast Geopark will host a workshop and an exploration of the dynamic shoreline of Kilfarrasy with their geologist. The festival celebrates World Bee Day on Saturday, 20 May with several events to celebrate. The Castlecomer Discovery Park host a kid’s bioblitz with their ecologist to learn how to spot and identify common birds, bugs and plants, and the JFK Arboretum host a kid’s potting workshop, a fun, hands-on workshop to teach children and parents about the ways that plants grow and thrive. On 21 May, Oceanics Surf School and Marine Education Centre in Tramore Co Waterford host a workshop “Exploring the Rocky Seashore” with The Explorers Education Programme, taking a hands-on approach to learning a little about the local rockpools and native Irish marine life. 

On the UN International day for Biological diversity, 22 May, Denis Cullen will lead a walk through the Anne Valley to look at some of the small creatures that live in the stream and ponds, to listen to the birds that nest in the valley and identify the flowers and trees and discuss some of their uses in the past. Finally, Kilkenny Castle Park hosts a 24 hour bioblitz from Friday, 26 May to Saturday, 27 May to discover the hidden creatures of Kilkenny Castle park and canal. This is a collaboration of OPW, Kilkenny County Council, Heritage Ireland, National Biodiversity Data Centre, and Birdwatch Ireland for this family friendly event.

Other events in Bealtaine Living Earth Festival’s programme are catered to schools including online marine wildlife events with Galway Atlantaquaria’s Explorer’s Education Programme, biodiversity walks, workshops and arts and craft events with Waterford City and County Council’s Environmental Section, some local artists and nature experts and Dave’s Jungle. These events are available to book through our website for your school:

The festival takes place through financial support of Science Foundation Ireland, Waterford City and County Council. There is a wide variety of events on offer all surrounding the theme of biodiversity. All events are free. However, tickets must be booked in advance. For a full list of events and to book, check out the Bealtaine Living Earth Festival website at