World’s only LGBTQ+ matchmaking festival secures home in Ireland for next five years

World’s only LGBTQ+ matchmaking festival secures home in Ireland for next five years

AN IRISH matchmaking festival dedicated to bringing together members of the LGBTQ+ community has secured its host venue for the next five years.

Founded in 2012 as an off shoot from the traditional Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival in Co. Clare, The Outing festival moved to its own venue on a separate weekend in 2019.

It is now based at The Inn at Dromoland in Clare, where it returns for its 2024 offering from February 9 to 11.

While announcing the dates for the 11th instalment of the popular festival, the organisers further confirmed that The Inn at Dromoland will continue as the host venue for The Outing for the next five years.

Eddie McGuinness, Festival Director of The Outing, which takes place at The Inn at Dromoland in County Clare

Festval Director Eddie McGuinness made the announcement this week.

“We are delighted to have secured a lasting home for our festival and are excited about delivering an LGBTQ+ weekend like no other,” he said.

“People have travelled from all over the world to our festival in previous years to enjoy pop-up clubs, drag performances, comedy, live music, arts, literary and film festivals and interactive events,” McGuinness explained.

“Of course, matchmaking plays a huge part in the festival,” he added.

“With more than a hundred relationships and two marriages, I have helped play a part in putting together our event in recent years.

“The Outing also acts as a celebration of the LGTBQ+ community, so whether you’re single or taken gay, trans, straight or bi, all are welcome to this fun weekend.”

The Inn at Dromoland in County Clare will host The Outing this coming Valentine's weekend from February 9 to 11 (PICS: Eamon Ward)

Next month’s event is expected to attract more than 1,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and straight singles and couples to Clare from across Ireland and overseas.

Organised in conjunction with The Outing Queer Arts Collective, with support from Fáilte Ireland, Blacknight Solutions, Visit Clare, Limerick Pride, and Quare Clare, festival-goers will enjoy a fusion of music, comedy, ceilí bands, queer arts, and the best of Irish and international performers, drag artists and DJs.

This year’s festival is being hosted by McGuinness and the popular Irish drag queen Victoria’s Secret.

“I am excited to escape to the West after what already feels like the longest January in record,” Secret said this week.

“Whether you’re coming to find love, mix and mingle with some new faces or just have a bop amongst like-minded people, there is something for everyone at The Outing,” they added.

“So, pop on something sparkly, shake off the January blues and come party with me.”

Drag queen and gay rights activist Panti Bliss, a longstanding supporter of the festival, has also welcomed the news of this year’s event.

“The Outing takes something quintessentially Irish and dips it in glitter,” Bliss says.

“It opens up the idea of traditional Irishness to the LGBT community and says, actually, yes, you can be LGBT and still be as Irish.”

The Outing festival will be located at the Inn at Dromoland in County Clare for the next five years, organisers have confirmed

The Outing organisers have also confirmed that they are currently working on a bid to bring the EuroPride event to Ireland for the first time in 2028.

Attracting over 100,000 people from all over the world annually, EuroPride is a pan-European celebration of all things LGBT pride.

Hosted by a different European city each year, The Outing organisers are working with the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau, Shannon Chambers, Quare Clare and Limerick Pride to submit a bid to bring EuroPride to Limerick, Clare and the Mid-West Region in 2028.

“Working with our partners in the Mid-West Region, we are hoping to bring LGBTQ+ tourists and activists from across the world to Limerick and Clare in 2028, which would also coincide with the 35th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland,” McGuinness said.

"Limerick is well accustomed to hosting large-scale international events, and we are confident we can follow in the footsteps of Amsterdam, London, Lisbon, Copenhagen and Madrid in showcasing our vibrant LGTBQ+ community here in Ireland, as this would be the first time EuroPride would come to the island of Ireland,” he added.

Karen Ronan, General Manager of the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau, said: “The Bureau is proud to support The Outing and their partner organisations in their bid to secure this prestigious event for the Mid-West which, should it be successful, would mark a landmark moment for the Pride movement in Ireland.

“Bringing the event to Limerick and Clare also would deliver a significant economic boost to the wider region and would follow on from the hosting of the World Rally Championship and the Ryder Cup.”

The Outing 2024 takes place at The Inn at Dromoland, Newmarket-On-Fergus, Co. Clare from February 9 to 11.