*Photograph by Eamon Ward.

The Inn at Dromoland in County Clare has been confirmed as the host venue for the next five years of the world’s only LGTBQ+ matchmaking festival.

Now in its 11th year, The Outing is expected to attract more than 1,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and straight singles and couples from across Ireland and overseas to the County Clare venue this coming Valentine’s weekend from February 9th to 11th.

Organised in conjunction with The Outing Queer Arts Collective with support from Fáilte Ireland, Blacknight Solutions, Visit Clare, Limerick Pride, and Quare Clare, the award-winning festival is a fusion of music, comedy, ceilí bands, queer arts, and the best of Irish and international performers, drag artists and DJs. This year’s event is being hosted by “The Queen of Matchmaking”, Eddie McGuinness, and Victoria’s Secret.

Eddie McGuinness, who is the Festival Director of The Outing, commented, “We are delighted to have secured a lasting home for our festival and are excited about delivering an LGBTQ+ weekend like no other.”

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

Festival co-host Victoria’s Secret commented, “I am excited to escape to the West after what already feels like the longest January in record. 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. So, pop on something sparkly, shake off the January blues and come party with me. Well, it’s Valentine’s, after all.”

Drag queen and gay rights activist Panti Bliss, a longstanding supporter of the festival, said, “The Outing takes something quintessentially Irish and dips it in glitter. 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.”

Eddie McGuinness, Festival Director of The Outing, which takes place at The Inn at Dromoland in County Clare on Valentines weekend from February 9th to 11th. Photo by Arthur Carron.

EuroPride Bid:

The Outing organisers have also confirmed they 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, which would mark the first time that the pan-European international event has been held in Ireland. Attracting over 100,000 people from all over the world annually, EuroPride is hosted by a different European city each year.

According to Mr McGuinness, “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. 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 1st time EuroPride would come to the island of Ireland.”

Karen Ronan, General Manager of the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau, “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 Inn at Dromoland in County Clare will host The Outing this coming Valentines weekend from February 9th to 11th. Photo by Eamon Ward.

The Outing 2024 takes place at The Inn at Dromoland, Newmarket-On-Fergus, County Clare on February 9th to 11th, 2023. Visit www.theouting.ie for ticket and event details.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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