What To Wear To The Opera

Summer Opera Chic at Blackwater Valley Opera Festival


If you’re looking ahead to an evening at the opera or just keen on what to wear to the opera at this year’s Blackwater Valley Opera Festival, this guide is crafted for you. Set in the stunning grounds of Lismore Castle in County Waterford, the festival offers a unique blend of cultural richness and historical grandeur.

Our festival is a beacon of style – while black tie is a choice for some gentlemen, it’s not a necessity. Whether you opt for a more formal ensemble, casual chic, rock edge, or boho flair, embracing the latest trends is all part of the experience. Despite the often unpredictable Irish weather, choosing the right outfit means balancing elegance with the practicalities of an evening under the stars, in the comfort of a covered auditorium.

The experience at Blackwater Valley Opera Festival, with its majestic setting in Lismore Castle, encourages consideration of comfort alongside style. Choose shoes that can gracefully handle the terrain, like platform fashion trainers for women or block heels, and don’t forget an extra layer for when the evening cools. A stylish blazer, cardigan, or pashmina not only adds to your look but provides warmth as you enjoy the opera and dining in the BVOF pop-up restaurant and opera bar. It comes as no surprise then, that Kildare Village is the Official Fashion Retail Sponsor of Blackwater Valley Opera Festival. Ireland’s premier luxury outlet with over 100 designer boutiques, is where you can experience unmatched savings, five-star service, and exquisite dining for a unique retail adventure. Breathe new life into your look for your visit to Ireland’s Summer Opera Festival, with pulse-racing fashion and look-at-me accessories landing daily in the boutiques at Kildare Village this season.

Dressing up is encouraged for those who feel inspired. A carefully selected dress, accentuated by a statement jewellery piece, can enhance your opera experience. Remember, the festival celebrates individual style; there’s no strict dress code. Given the Irish summer’s tendency for surprises, pairing evening wear with flattering luxury trainers might be a practical (and fashionable) choice.

Blackwater Valley Opera Festival’s backdrop of Lismore Castle gardens provides a unique opportunity to experience opera in a setting unlike any other, without the constraints of a formal dress code.

A light, airy dress adorned with floral prints or pastel shades hits the right note for an evening of culture amid the castle’s grandeur. But as Sheena McCarthy, of Sheena’s Boutique aptly notes, the opera’s sartorial scene is wonderfully eclectic: “Anything goes. You see opera coats and elegant prints, tweed jackets and fur-trimmed wraps, long dresses, and trainers.” She adds, “It’s nice to dress up, to wear something glamorous, even if it’s just a beautiful silk wrap, a big pearl choker, and statement earrings.”

Lismore Castle, with its delightful, terraced gardens, calls for thoughtful footwear. Heed Sheena’s advice to The Gloss Magazine: “Heels just don’t work on gravel paths.” A nude or gold wedge perfectly complements the setting, blending elegance with practicality.

Whether you opt for glamour or comfort, this guide aims to help you navigate your wardrobe choices, ensuring a delightful and comfortable experience at Ireland’s Summer Opera Festival.

BVOF What To Wear At The Opera
BVOF What To Wear At The Opera
BVOF What To Wear At The Opera
BVOF What To Wear At The Opera
BVOF What To Wear At The Opera

Quick Style Tips for Blackwater Valley Opera Festival:


  • Layer for the Irish Evenings: A chic wrap, pashmina, or tailored coat keeps you ready for anything the Irish summer throws your way, as the night settles in. Creative cover-ups aren’t just practical – they’re a fashion statement.
  • Glamour in Accessories: Elevate your ensemble with a bold piece of statement jewellery such as pearl choker or dazzling earrings  that makes you feel like opera royalty.
  • Walk the Castle Grounds with Ease: Remember, Lismore Castle gardens love sensible shoes. A stylish wedge or platform trainer keeps you comfortable and chic.
  • Floral and Flowing Fabrics: When in doubt, a breezy dress with floral prints is your go-to for blending in with the castle’s picturesque setting.
  • Dress to Express: From opera coats to elegant prints and everything in between, let your style shine. Above all, wear what makes you feel fabulous. The festival is a celebration of individual style as much as it is of opera.


Enjoy the opera in style, comfort, and a bit of playful elegance at the historic Lismore Castle.

Here’s to a night of unforgettable performances, celebrated in style and comfort at Blackwater Valley Opera Festival!


Photography courtesy of:

Veronica Faustmann – Kildare Village

Patrick Browne – BVOF 2024 Lismore Castle

Jay Woodyard – Sheena’s Boutique Cork