Ignoring the obvious juggernauts on the Irish festival calendar that are EP and Longitude, music editor Kevin O’Reilly takes a look at just some of the incredible array of music and arts events to hit the country this year.
Smock Alley Theatre
if you’re a fan of contemporary Irish electronic music then this is bound to tickle your fancy. Crammed into the cosy industrial setting in Smock Alley will be three days of the most exciting modern Irish fusion masterclasses, concerts and interactive workshops hosted by Dublin Sound Lab. Everything strange and wonderful that happens when tradition meets technology can be found here, from dozens of composers, musicians and artists at the forefront of their respective experimental fields, and all for a very agreeable price.
Belvedere House, Westmeath
Ireland’s buzziest weekend returns to Westmeath with a stellar lineup that takes in heavyweight headliners Paul Kalkbrenner and 2ManyDJs as well as the brilliant Bicep, John Talabot, Mano Le Tough, Joy Orbison and Ben Klock. Life has always signaled the start of the summer as revelers crowd the quays, cans in hand, to get away for the first-best weekend of the year.
Bulmers Forbidden Fruit
Royal Hospital Kilmainham
The cosmopolitan festival that oozes class is once again returning to Kilmainham with an already jaw-dropping line-up featuring the likes of Tame Impala, Bondax, Flume, Jungle and many more still to be announced. A stylish summer festival which is almost always guaranteed the sun, given that it runs around the same time as the Leaving Cert. If you can afford the tickets then this is a fantastic way to kick off the break.
Beaulieu House, Drogheda
If Forbidden Fruit seems a bit too local for your tastes, definitely consider heading up to Louth for one of Ireland’s best kpt secrets. Vantastival is a smaller festivel, but it packs a punch with its great atmosphere and excellent lineup. King Kong Company, The Hot Sprockets and The Young Folk are all among the first traunch of headliners announced. Bonus points for the free camper vans!
Titanic Quarter, Belfast
Like a Northern version of Longitude, Belsonic sees 8 Headliners play as many dats over 20 days in June. Taking place for the first timein the Titanic Quarter, expect a bigger crowd and a better buzz. Leaning heavily towards the electronic, headliners include Tiesto, Faithless, and David Guetta with support from Robin Schulz and The Vaccines on different days. With more to be announced, the Northern powerhouse is looking huge.
Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan
Ireland’s first ever all-Irish language festival kicks off in north Dublin in June. Despite the name this inventive festival caters to all tastes in music featuring some of the hottest names in Irish music such as; Delorentos, The Riptide Movement, Heathers and many more. Also on offer is a mezze of comedy, food, dance, literature, workshops and all done through our beautiful native language. Although it may suffer a few kinks in its debut year this novel and affordable festival is bound to be a fantastic experience for anyone with ‘suim sa Ghaeilge’.
Body & Soul
Ballinlough Castle, Co. Westmeath
Of course this weird and wonderful spiritual themed bonanza is taking place on the summer solstice weekend. The festival is a fantastic blend of music and creative meticulous decoration to create an atmosphere that is as free-spirited as most of the punters. It is a spectacle for the eyes, ears and plenty of other senses and celebrates a close connection with nature. If you’ve never been before, this simply must be experienced!
Charleville Castle, Tullamore
If you’re looking for somewhere to chill in those heavy July days then get yourself down to Co. Offaly where you’ll find Castlepalooza. The festival celebrates its tenth birthday this year and what better way to celebrate than with Caribou, The Villagers and Jurassic 5 serenading you in an ancient oak landscape. This small festival is big on character and ambience and provides a perfect alternative to the trek down to Mitchelstown to catch its twin festival; Indiependence.
Deer Park, Mitchelstown
Another small festival that packs a punch, this celebration of established and upcoming Irish music has also grown in recent years. The line-up this year lauds Bell X1, The Kooks, The Strypes and Hudson Taylor among some of its headline performances. The idyllic setting of Deer Park provides the perfect backdrop for this hip boutique event which caters for true lovers of Irish music.
If Body & Soul wasn’t enough for you and you’re looking for the same spiritual character with an extra dash of Celtic mysticism then this is the festival for you. The line-up is yet to be released but you can be damn sure you’ve never heard of them before. Besides the main reason to visit the lakes in mid-July is to bask in the aura of unbounded spirituality and love at a festival that believes in giving back to the community. So put on your harem pants and headband, get yourself down to Wicklow and let your inner flower-child go!