Friday 18 January 2019

Féile 2018 - Trip to Tipp is back - with Prosecco bars and vegan food stalls

It's a far cry from ham sandwiches and flasks of tea at the original nineties rite of passage

Fans at the Feile Festival in Thurles, Tipperary,1993
Fans at the Feile Festival in Thurles, Tipperary,1993
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

The Trip to Tipp is back.

Féile – or ‘Ireland’s answer to Woodstock’ – is making a return to Semple Stadium.

Between 1990 and 1994, thousands of rockers, ravers and punks travelled to Tipperary for the raucous event.

It was our first modern music festival, and a rite of passage for many, with acts such as INXS, Meat Loaf, Simply Red, Iggy Pop, and Blur taking to the stage.

It also attracted Irish acts such as the Pogues, Christy Moore, the Saw Doctors and the Hothouse Flowers.

Some 28 years after the festival first launched, it will return to Semple Stadium this September – for one night only.

This time round, however, Féile has a slightly more genteel feel – having been re-branded as ‘Féile Classical’ with a real focus on Irish musical talent.

Headliners will perform alongside the Irish Chamber Orchestra on a “beautiful oyster stage”. 

The festival will be fully seated, complete with luxuries like a choice of clean toilets, gourmet vegan food stalls, and a selection of pop-up gin and Prosecco bars – a far cry from tinfoiled ham sandwiches and flasks of tea.


The line-up this year is a throwback to the 90s glory days with the Stunning, Hothouse Flowers, An Emotional Fish, The 4 of Us, and the Frank and Walters, all taking to the stage.

A photography exhibition of fans attending Féiles throughout the 90s will flank the stage.

There will also be discussions about the cultural importance of Ireland’s first multi-day festival, held in the ‘Tribal Tent’ and hosted by Irish Independent journalist John Meagher.

Féile Classical has been organised by broadcaster Tom Dunne, whose band Something Happens performed at Féile ’90, ’91 and ’93.  

“This concert has been in the ether for some time now,” he said.

“Myself and the bands are really excited to be collaborating with the Irish Chamber Orchestra to put together a glorious in-your-face celebration of a special time in Irish music.

“Féile was special, it was iconic, it was our Woodstock and Féile Classical will be an even bigger, better, louder explosion of the best of those days and so much more.”

Read more: Trip to Tipp: John Meagher on the legacy of the music festival on its 25 year anniversary

Those hoping to make a weekend out of it are advised to stay in a local B&B – an upgrade from the 90s Féile camp sites.

Weekend tickets for the first Féile cost IR£29.50 (€37) with 19 acts on the line up including four international names; Meat Loaf, Deacon Blue, Big Country and Maria McKee.

One of the most memorable headline performances took place in 1993 when Chris de Burgh brought a scantily clad dancer on stage while singing ‘Patricia the Stripper’.

The 1994 festival was the final year Semple Stadium was used as an on-ground camping site.

The following year, Féile moved to the Rebel County and was staged in Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

It was originally scheduled to take place in Mondello Park, Co Kildare, but local opposition forced music promoters MCD to seek another location at the last minute.

In 1996, it moved once again, taking place in Dublin’s Point Depot – reducing capacity and removing Féile’s status as an outdoor event. The concert returned to Semple Stadium for the last time in 1997.

At that stage, the festival’s popularity had started to fade and the size and scale of Féile was reduced.

Three years later, a new multi-day festival emerged on the scene – Witnness arrived in Fairyhouse, Co Meath, and was followed by Oxegen and then Electric Picnic.

Organisers are hoping that Féile Classical will tap into nineties nostalgia and the ‘tribal days of Irish music’ – with that added bit of luxury.

As the festival is a seated event, tickets from €49.50 are limited and go on sale this Friday at Ticketmaster outlets.

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