The music did not die in February 2020 but it was certainly put on mute. And when hopes of a return last year were dashed as the Covid outbreak took another turn for the worst, some festival organisers had to count their losses as plans were put back on ice.
It has been a long and silent two years but now festival season is officially back, revitalising communities across the country with crowds of people eager to return to what they love – soaking up the music and the unique atmosphere that comes from being together en masse.
And while the bigger festivals like Bloom, Longitude, the Ploughing Championship and Electric Picnic are returning, full steam ahead, there are plenty of other, smaller, festivals going on across the country that will bring back our collective joie de vivre.
This month sees Sea Sessions Surf and Music Festival returning to Bundoran, Co Donegal, on June 17-19 with a line-up that includes Tinie Tempah, Joel Corry, Kodaline, Lyra, The Academic and Basement Jaxx.
On top of the music comes surfing, skating, BMX and a wide range of activities across the weekend.
Sea Sessions festival director Ray O’Donoghue said: “Anyone who comes to our festival leaves saying, ‘I had a great time.’ We don’t take ourselves too seriously. No matter what you do, you’re going to have a good time. There’s going to be plenty to do, plenty to keep you entertained and you’ll leave with plenty of memories and a massive smile on your face.”
Also coming this month is the Fastnet Maritime and Folk Festival in Ballydehob, Co Cork (June 17-19) with a musical Jazz Jamboree,
The Hinterland Festival in Kells, Co Meath (June 23-26), is a three-day eclectic mix of literature, ancient Irish history, drama, music, and craic. Elsewhere, the West Cork Chamber Music festival will take place in Bantry from June 24 to July 3.
In the 1950s and 60s, the village of Ballinderreen in Co Galway was a firm fixture on touring maps for the showbands who travelled the length and breadth of the country.
The inaugural South Galway Music Festival aims to revive that spirit – with a three-day line-up from July 22 to July 24. Mike Denver is headlining, and The Conquerors, Michael English, Jimmy Buckley and Sean Keane also feature on the bill.
Organiser Mattie Larkin said the idea for the festival came about during the pandemic.
“We were always talking about how great it would be to have a right shindig and gather again,” he said.
“There was a few months there when we had to close the gates of the GAA pitch – it’s there 60 years and this was the first time in its existence it was closed. The gates had never been closed at any time.
“Now the village has grown and we are building a gym in the GAA grounds which would be a huge benefit to the young people. We have 70pc of the funding but we need to make up the balance.
“We were only going to go for one night but then we got more bands and we figured that if we were paying for a stage and sound we might as well knock two days out of it but it grew legs and now it’s three.”
Mr Larkin is hoping that everyone in the locality will get behind the festival and that locals who are living abroad might think about coming home for the event, with tickets available on the Ballinderreen hurling page on Facebook.
In Co Offaly, preparations are already under way for the Tullamore Show at the Butterfield Estate, Blueball, on August 14, together with the FBD Livestock Show – which has its roots in the old RDS Spring Show.
CEO Joseph Molloy said organisers had hoped the show could go ahead last year but uncertainty around the lifting of restrictions saw them take the decision to cancel. Now they are looking forward to a full return of the crowds as they used to be.
“There was a good appetite out there because people have missed those shows – this is a great family day out and there’s something for everybody,” Mr Molloy said.
“Some of the urban people might not think it was for them but there is something for everyone here. We have the all-Ireland baking final and the other cookery events, we have horticulture events. We have a full line-up of musical acts throughout the day.”
He added that the traders are anxious to get back to business and have suffered from not being able to exhibit.