This Town in Ireland Has a Month-long Matchmaking Festival Every Year

If you want to find love, all you have to do is visit Ireland.

The Matchmaker Bar in Lisdoonvarna, Republic of Ireland
The Matchmaker Bar in the spa town of Lisdoonvarna in Ireland. The town hosts an annual matchmaking festival each September. Photo: Chris Dorney/Getty Images

While many people may consider Paris the City of Love, perhaps a visit to Lisdoonvarna, a tiny, rural town in County Clare, Ireland, will change their minds.

Every fall, the quaint, little town is home to a huge matchmaking festival, where thousands of people flock to find “The One.” This year, the festival started on Aug. 30 and ends Sept. 29.

According to Culture Trip, the festival mostly targets rural farmers who don’t have great access to singles bars or Tinder — but it's been a local tradition for 150 years.

Willie Daly, the festival’s resident matchmaker and the most famous matchmaker in Ireland, still uses an old-fashioned method for helping people find love, according to the festival’s website. Over the last 50 years, Daly has apparently set up around 3,000 marriages, so he must be doing something right.

Daly, whose father and grandfather were also in the matchmaking business, uses an ancient-looking book that is full of love profiles to make his matches. “If you touch this ‘love ledger’ you’ll be married and in love inside of six months. If you are already married, you will recreate the honeymoon period you first had,” Daly said.

In order to get matched at the festival, you need to visit Daly at the festival’s Matchmaker Bar. However, be aware that in the past, the festival has had trouble attracting men, according to Culture Trip, so some attendees may be leaving without a new beau.

When the festival first began, it was an occasion that was set up to take advantage of upper class visitors who were coming to Lisdoonvarna to enjoy the local spas and find suitable betrothals for their children, the Irish Post reported. According to the festival’s website, matchmaking is a time-honored Irish tradition.

Today, it’s a bit less proper and a bit more modern. There’s live music and dancing on three of the weekends in September, and throughout the week there are other events such as speed dating, spa days, meet-ups at the pub, club nights, horse racing, and crowning of the “most eligible” man and woman at the festival. According to the Irish Post, this year’s event is expected to draw over 40,000 people, making it the biggest festival of its kind in Europe.

Certainly people from all over Ireland will be there, but also visitors from dozens of other countries as far as China or Japan as well, according to Irish Central. The event has become even more popular internationally as it has grown over the years.

An LGBTQ+ friendly matchmaking weekend called The Outing will also be happening close by during one of the weekends as well. This year, the dedicated weekend will take place between Sept. 27 and 28. This festival is located near Ennis, also in County Clare.

Live music and dancing on weekends began Sept. 13 and continues to the end of the month. There are also other events during the week.

For more information, visit the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival website.

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