Top 5 Irish Summer Festivals…

Posted: 02/05/2012 in Uncategorized

As published on on May 2nd 2012

Now that we’ve entered the month of May, thus making it officially summertime (in spite what the current monsoon weather conditions might suggest), it’s perfectly acceptable to start getting really REALLY excited about festivals! Between now and September there is pretty much a music festival every weekend to keep Irish gig-goers happy – but the question is, which ones are worth splashing your hard earned cash on? Here’s my top 5 festival picks of the summer.


Mitchelstown Co. Cork, August 3rd-5th

This independently-run event will once again rock Mitchelstown over the August bank holiday weekend with a fantastic lineup of live music, comedy and all sorts of other fun stuff. I’ve attended the festival every year since its humble beginnings, and cannot recommend it highly enough – SUCH a great atmosphere, and very much focussed on the music.

For the 2012 instalment Indiependence are yet again peppering interesting international performers amongst a brilliant lineup of Irish talent. Delorentos, Jape, Ham Sandwich, The Minutes, Royseven, Le Galaxie, We Cut Corners, and The Japanese Popstars are amoung the multitude of Irish acts set to take to the Indiependence stages alongside guaranteed hit headliners Scroobius Pip, Beardyman, and 2 Many DJs… and with a 3 day camping pass costing only €99, it remains a very affordable weekend of festival fun.


Bundoran Co. Donegal, June 29th – July 1st

Sea Sessions is another festival which I’ve been delighted to witness grow from a minor niche event to a major player of the Irish festival calendar. Now in its fifth year, organisers have announced a diverse lineup of top musical acts from both home and abroad for the Donegal weekender. Headliners Kaiser Chiefs, Happy Mondays, and Rev Run (yes, he of RUN DMC fame) will no doubt draw the crowds; and The Coronas, This Club and Bitches With Wolves amongst many others will be keepin’ it Irish.

Bundoran is a small town, so it tends to come to a standstill over Sea Sessions weekend as festival revellers take over – and the buzz is always brilliant. The fact that it’s right by the beach is a major bonus – take part in soccer, tag rugby, and Frisbee competitions all weekend! More of a spectator? Then kick back and watch the pro surfing events, or be wowed by the BMX, skateboard, and roller-blading action.

Weekend tickets are priced €88.50, plus another €30 for camping – but there’s also plenty of self catering accommodation available in the town if you fancy ditching the tent instead of pitching it!


Kilmainham Co. Dublin, June 2nd – 4th

Forbidden Fruit returns for a second outing, and this time with an extra day to fill the entire June bank holiday weekend full of musical goodness.

The grounds of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham are yet again hosting a seriously great lineup up of acts. It’s undeniably a musos music festival – and all bases are covered with iconic headliners like New Order and Leftfield, indie favourites along the lines of Friendly Fires, Chairlift, Austra, Death Cab For Cutie and Beirut, emerging talent such as MMOTHS, The Cast of Cheers and Kool Thing – and SO much more in between.

It’s gonna be a busy weekend, most likely with a lot of heartbreaking clashing of acts – but being spoilt for choice at a music festival is certainly not a complaint!

Day tickets are €49.50, and a full weekend ticket will set you back €115. This is an urban festival, and there’s no camping option – but the site is located within walking distance of Dublin’s city centre, and right by Heuston train station, so it’s really handy – and each evening is all wrapped up in time for last bus home!


Ballinlough Castle Co. Westmeath, June 22nd – 24th

If you’ve ever had the absolute pleasure of attending the mother of all Irish festivals that is Electric Picnic, you’ll know all about Body & Soul – the parallel universe that takes over a vast amount of the Stradbally site. Two years ago, Body & Soul branched out to host its own festival centred around the summer solstice.

The festival brings together art, performance and a good old-fashioned party in a stunning setting – it’s often been said that the music is but an afterthought to the multitude of other stuff going on at the festival. This cannot be said of the 2012 instalment, however – for Body & Soul have pulled off a massive coup in offering some of the most sought-after acts on this summer’s touring circuit. French electro gods M83 will be the big draw, alongside the brilliant St. Vincent, the quirky indie stylings of Django Django, the legendary Spiritualized, and national treasures Villagers airing eagerly anticipated new material.

Body & Soul Summer Solstice weekend tickets are available at the bargain price of €89, with an €25 add-on option if you feel the urge to head down early to set up camp on Friday evening.


Westport Co. May, June 22nd – 24th

Body & Soul Summer Solstice doesn’t sound like the festival for you, eh? Well fear not – there’ll be one hell of a hooley goin’ on in Westport that same weekend! The inaugural Westport Festival promises “the very best local and international rock, folk, celtic and acoustic sounds” – and they’ve certainly got the lineup of acts to back up the claim.

Legends such as The Chieftains, Ray Davies, The Waterboys, Horslips, Seasick Steve, and Jools Holland with his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra are sure to draw the masses to the grounds Wesport House for this two day event. Celebrated contemporary Irish musicians like Davit Kitt, Imelda May, Duke Special, Damien Dempsey and Wallis Bird will also be joining the festivities, alongside a whole host of emerging Irish talent.

Beyond this veritable smorgasbord of musical treats lies the truly beautiful town of Westport ready and willing to be explored. Two day tickets don’t come cheap at €149 for a camping ticket, or €130 if you’re seeking accommodation elsewhere – but with a lineup this good, it seems worth it for a weekend in the Wild Wild West!

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