Sunday 18 March 2018

Castlepalooza Vs Indiependence – which festival is best?

The Castlepalooza Festival, which takes place in August, is inviting people to dress up as kings and queens
The Castlepalooza Festival, which takes place in August, is inviting people to dress up as kings and queens
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Competition is fierce between festivals this summer with music lovers torn between Longitude, Body & Soul, Electric Picnic and countless more.

When two quality festivals go head-to-head, on the same weekend, over the same three days, with two great line-ups, however, the finer details become so much more significant.

With Castlepalooza kicking off in Tullamore at the same time as Indiependence opens its gates in Mitchelstown this weekend (both festivals run Aug 1-3) we've compiled a list of pros and cons to help any remaining head-scratchers (including ourselves) to decide where to pitch those crumpled tents.

Of course, it's all subjective and entirely dependent on personal taste, so our conclusions may not tally with yours, but we do at least lay down the facts.  So,  whether you rate Gruff Rhys over Public Enemy or value phone charging over breakfast rolls, now at least you know your options...


Indiependence: Highlights include Tom Odell, White Lies, and Public Enemy with Hozier, Damien Dempsey, Sultans of Ping, David Holmes, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, and disco kings Horse Meat Disco.

Castlepalooza: The aforementioned Gruff Rhys, Gilles Peterson, and Andrew Weatherall headline with Vann Music and We Cut Corners amongst countless more.

Best fest: Both festivals aim for (and have achieved) an eclectic mix, so it depends entirely on personal taste.  Ours is swaying slightly more in favour of Indiependence headliners, however, so that’s where this vote goes!


Castlepalooza: Many a festival is set within the grounds of a beautiful castle or stately home, whether it’s Slane Castle in Meath or Marley House in Rathfarnham.

However, the building itself is usually housed behind a velvet rope (i.e. burly security guard), reserved for artists and crew, and off limits to the average peasant festival-goer.  Not so at Castlepalooza - punters have daytime access to Charleville Castle where they can wander through ‘restored rooms and unwind in front of roaring fires’. 

The castle will also play host to art and film exhibitions, workshops, a day spa and surprise performances.  Outside there’s also a new Courtyard Chillout area.

Indiependence: The festival is located on a deer farm at Mitchelstown in Cork, nestled in the valley to the south of the Galtee mountains, and spread across a tree-lined 52 acre site beneath. Picturesque indeed.

Best fest: We’re a sucker for a castle so we’ll give this one to Castlepalooza.


Castlepalooza:  Aside from regular camping, there is a campervan area  with access to water, toilets, and the all-important waste tank.  No power is supplied, however, and the campervan area is located a lengthy 800m trek from the main area.

For those who don’t have the luxury of a campervan, there’s the next best thing - boutique camping.  You can choose from 4 or 5 metre pre-pitched tents (there’s a carpeted interior and you can rent sleeping bags etc so it’s pretty luxe) at a cost of €295 or €450 for 4 or 6 people respectively. 

There are also plenty of hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs in the Tullamore area.

Indiependence: Aside from regular camping, there's a VIP camping area for those lucky enough to have won tickets through promotions, or who are actual VIPs.  There's a campervan area which was limited to fifty tickets.  It’s right beside the arena, however, housed in a separate area with toilets and security and waste disposal.  Again, no power supply.  Guesthouse and hotel options are also limited in the Mitchelstown area.

Best fest: If luxury is what you’re after then Castlepalooza wins hands down.


Castlepalooza:  Expect the usual festival fare of burgers, hot dogs, breakfast rolls, sausages, pizza, crepes, smoothies, Thai food, and sandwiches.  Veggie and organic options available too. There are food stalls also located right beside Castle camping and a few in Moat camping too.

Indiependence: There’s a campsite breakfast area so you don’t have to venture too far for a breakfast roll if you’re feeling delicate and don’t want to change out of your pyjamas.  (Sidenote: It’s acceptable to wear your PJs within 50ft of your tent at a festival.  Fact.)

Best fest: A dedicated campsite breakfast area?  Sold.  Indiependence it is.


Castlepalooza: There are real, flushing toilets on site beside and inside the castle as well as the usual portaloos.  Hot showers run off environmentally-friendly solar heating panels.  However, there are no ATMs on site and no shop/newsagent apart from a merchandise shop, which isn’t much use when you want to read the Sunday papers. Vodafone Centre Stage will be providing phone charging facilities.

Indiependence:  You can also charge your phone at Indiependence.  And there are brand new shower units at the campsite this year.  There are no ATMS here either though, and no shop/newsagent.

Best fest:  They have the same pros (phone charging, decent showers) and the same cons (no newsagent and no ATM) so this one’s a draw.


Castlepalooza say the festival “is predominately an over 18s event but children are permitted during the day on Saturday & Sunday. We would prefer if children did not camp as there is naturally loud music played late each night” and they suggest kids stay at hotels in the area.

Indiependence say, “The kind folk at Mitchelstown Youth Cafe will be entertaining Family Campers this year from 10am-2pm Saturday and Sunday. With activities and workshops including Spray Art, Jewellery making, Card making, Colouring Exhibitions, Board Games, Snap It and Ball Games there’s plenty to keep the little ones occupied.”

Best fest: Sounds like Indiependence is a little more family-friendly.


Castlepalooza has a lot to do besides eardrum bashing this year with workshops in yoga, burleseque, hula hooping, and puppet making.  The Eat My Shorts short film showcase also makes a welcome return.  One of the highlights of the weekend, however, is the Kings and Queens fancy dress festival day on Sunday August 3.  Festival-goers can also win a crate of beer and 6 concierge wristbands by decoreating their campsite area with bunting and all things arty.

Indiependence: It’s all about the music.

Best fest: If you like to mix it up with more than music, Castlepalooza has more to offer.

Overall best festival is Castlepalooza but if you're a life-long Public Enemy obsessive then that's irrelevant.  Whichever you choose, bring your wellies, and enjoy!

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