Showcasing Laois History and Heritage
An Initiative of Laois Library Service

Old Fort Quarter Festival 2023

Laois Local Studies > Events > Old Fort Quarter Festival 2023

A Spectacular Celebration of History, Culture, and Entertainment

The much-anticipated Old Fort Quarter Festival is back and ready to transport visitors to a bygone era of history, culture, and entertainment. The festival promises to be a sensational event that will captivate attendees of all ages. Set against the backdrop of Portlaoise’s historic Old Fort, this year’s festival will take place from 22nd of June until the 25th of June and is set to be the biggest and most exciting yet.

To give a background to the history of the Old Fort Quarter and discuss the conservation process, Conservation Architect Richard McLoughlin will host a presentation ‘The History and Architecture of Fort Protector’ in partnership with the Laois Heritage Society on Thursday 22nd at 7pm in St. Peter and Paul’s Parish Centre.

Cllr Thomasina Connell with Richard McLoughlin, Lotts Architecture at the launch of the Portlaoise Fort Protector Conservation Plan. Photo: Alf Harvey.

Highlights of the Old Fort Festival 2023 include:

Living History Exhibits: Step into the past with captivating reenactments, historical displays, and interactive exhibits that bring history to life. Engage with knowledgeable experts who will take you on a tour of significant moments from our past. The famous Portlaoise Plane will be on display in the Granary Store, book in for a walking tour to find out more about the history of this famous plane. Raven Haven Aviaries will have the ravens from the Vikings show and Norsemen show on display along with other birds of prey. The Golden Raven Viking group will showcase medieval battles while others will showcase medieval cookery and textile displays. Renowned Historian and Heritage consultants Teddy Fennelly and Michael Parsons will lead a walking heritage tour of the Old Fort with a stop at the famous Portlaoise Plane. Booking for this can be made through Eventbrite HERE

Artisan Village: Explore the Artisan Village, where skilled craftsmen such as weavers from Vikings Athy and craftswomen demonstrate traditional arts and crafts and more. Discover unique handmade treasures and even try your hand at some ancient techniques.

Cultural Performances: Be enthralled by a diverse lineup of cultural performances, featuring music, dance, and theatrical acts that showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage. From traditional Irish dancers with the Lynam School of Dance, music from local Laois Comhaltas groups, modern pop music to soul-stirring melodies, there will be something to delight every spectator. There will be traditional bee-keepers, drumming circles, pipers and more all partaking in activities for you to enjoy and interact. Art exhibitions will take place in the Gallery of The Dunamaise Theatre so be sure to stop by and have a browse and as you wander through the historic quarter watch out for the wonderful art of Eoin Coveney which will be on display at the railings of the Laois Music Centre.

Culinary Delights and Craft market: Indulge your taste buds with an array of delectable treats from local food vendors, serving up traditional and contemporary dishes. A selection of craft and market stalls will line main street Portlaoise for you to have a wander and purchase some local handmade wares.

Family Fun Zone: Bring the whole family along and enjoy the Family Fun Zone in various locations around the town, offering a wide range of activities and games for all ages. From giant games, and stilt walking entertainers, there will be endless entertainment options for everyone. For those who like a bit of cosplay, the Celtic Con Comic Convention group will be in The Dunamaise Theatre for all ages to enjoy on Saturday only. The Laois Civil Defence Group will be on site for the weekend to meet and greet and talk about what they do with visitors. In Fitzmaurice place, you will have the opportunity to have your face painted, or bring home a painted shield while parents can spend some time in the stocks kindly made by the Portlaoise Men’s Shed. On Saturday evening at 6pm we will have a march of all participants down main street with a closing out pageant.

On Sunday, the Music generation Laois will host the Youth Music Gathering with bands from all over Ireland descending on Laois from 12pm – 5pm. Booking through the Music Generation site here

Evening Music Concerts at the Laois Music Centre: Bigger and better than ever, we have four nights of music lined up this year with music local artists and renowned performers. Get ready to dance the night away to the tunes of The Whistling Donkeys, accompanied by the brilliant sounds of The Dooley Brothers on the Thursday evening; On the second day of the 2023 Old Fort Quarter Festival, the stage will come alive with a captivating performance by Qween, supported by the incredible talents of Showdown: The ELO Experience; On the Saturday night of the 2023 Old Fort Quarter Festival, get ready to experience an electrifying live performance by John Gibbons, accompanied by the brilliant Marty Guilfoyle & Atlas, providing incredible support; and to close the weekend  get ready for an unforgettable fourth day of the 2023 Old Fort Quarter Festival, featuring an incredible double header. Prepare to be enthralled by the dynamic performances of Transmitter and Smash Hits, delivering an electrifying night of music and entertainment. Weekend tickets sold out. Nightly tickets still available from The Dunamaise Box Office

The Old Fort Festival day time events are free and open to the public, welcoming locals and visitors from afar to come together and celebrate the unique spirit of the historic town of Portlaoise. Mark your calendars now and be prepared for an extraordinary journey through time at the Old Fort Festival 2023!

For more information and a full list of events, please visit the offical website at or follow Old Fort Quarter on Social Media.