The Insider Guide to all the top Summer festivals
We have to make the most of whatever the Irish summer throws at us and there's no better way to do that than attend one of the many festivals or open-air concerts happening around the country. Get your checklist at the ready and get ready to rock...
Live At The Marquee @ Cork City
Thursday June 19 – Tuesday July 15
The Marquee hosts this summer's most exhaustive line-up with 25 events taking place over the course of the month down at the Docklands. The series of gigs draws in some of the names who are headlining their own outdoor gigs in other Irish cities including Imelda May (June 21), Elbow (June 24), Biffy Clyro (June 27) and The National (July 14). The Marquee is also hosting some one-off Irish gigs from Lana Del Rey (July 15, already sold out), Brian Wilson (July 4), Robert Plant with his band The Sensational Space Shifters (June 25), The Prodigy (July 2) and read this carefully – Neil Young And Crazy Horse (July 10).
Unique Selling Point: Summer in Cork has meant an eclectic mix of large-scale music events in the big marquee since 2005.
Body & Soul Festival @ Ballinlough Castle Co Westmeath
Friday June 20 - Sunday June 22
It's easy to forget that Body & Soul started as the holistic off-beat area at Electric Picnic. Its own festival, now in its fifth year, it features international names like Goldfrapp, Caribou, John Grant and Gary Numan along with an eclectic line-up of electronic, alternative and folk Irish musicians. The crowd is predominantly 30-somethings and over. Stages for talks, DJs, comedy, theatre, a holistic area and hot tubs are also situated on the cosy forest and walled garden site.
Unique Selling Point: A boutique festival which mixes music, creativity, arts and therapeutic practices into its own unique vibe. bodyandsoul.ie
Sea Sessions Surf & Music Festival @ Bundoran, Co. Donegal
Friday June 27 – Sunday June 29
If you're looking for something a bit more sun-kissed and outdoorsy, the more athletic among you may go for this self-described "Beach Party Weekend of the Year". Of course, you don't have to be a surfer or a tag rugby enthusiast to enjoy the beach in Bundoran. The music is the big draw here and this year, Sea Sessions have secured some impressive names including Kelis, The Strypes, Ella Eyre and Beardyman.
Unique Selling Point: Sun, sea and surf combined with a solid line-up of international and Irish music. seasessions.com
Westport Festival @ Westport House, Co. Mayo
Saturday June 28 – Sunday June 29
The 400 acres of Westport House's 18th century estate is the setting for this family-friendly two-day festival situated not far from the seaside. Music is plucked from the established: David Gray, Bryan Adams, Kool & The Gang, Bell X1, former Westlifer Shane Filan and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. The edgier end of the line-up includes Tinariwen, Little Green Cars, We Cut Corners, Daithí and The Cast Of Cheers. Westport Festival is big on food with a village featuring Neven Maguire, Darina and Rachel Allen, Ross Lewis and Clodagh McKenna. Kids' activities, camping and comedy also feature.
Unique Selling Point: A family-friendly festival with nice foodie edge in a swanky-looking location.
Various gigs @ Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin
Tuesday June 24 – Sunday June 29
As Forbidden Fruit and Ennio Morricone have shown in the last few years, city festivals and once-off events can work in a metropolis' favour. No camping, back in your bed afterwards or onto a bar for an afterparty, it's an easy choice. The grassy grounds of IMMA hosts a week-long series of some rock-leaning line-ups of Paul Weller and Tom Odell (June 24), Elbow and Mick Flannery (June 25), Jack White and The Kills (June 26), The Coronas and The Riptide Movement (June 27) and Biffy Clyro (June 28th).
Unique Selling Point: Be home and musically satisfied by midnight.
Various gigs @ Marlay Park, Dublin
Sunday June 29 – Saturday July 12
The outdoor gig action moves to the 'burbs for two weeks which is suitable as one of the headliners, Arcade Fire, wrote a whole album about it. Pixies will join Arcade Fire (June 29) for the 40-minute journey south from the city centre to the Rathfarnham public park. Others include the heavy-hitting touring duo Kanye and Pharrell (July 2), the yearning guitar brigade Kings Of Leon and Kodaline (July 4), the pop and rap crowd of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Ellie Goulding, Danny Brown and Angel Haze (July 10) and the reigning kings of good rock'n'roll Arctic Monkeys (July 12).
Unique Selling Point: Far enough away from the city to feel like a night of green woodland musical escapism, close enough that an easy bus journey is all it takes.
Various gigs @ Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
Friday July 11 – Sunday July 20
The Iveagh concerts take place in the surrounds of the Iveagh Gardens and its sculpted garden, maze, waterfall and fountains bring the music events closer to the heart of the city. Musically, it's a mix of folk, pop and indie-rock. The schedule includes the Kildare legend Christy Moore (July 11), hometown harmonic heroes Little Green Cars (July 12) and, two nights from mature maudlin rockers The National with Owen Pallett and Phosphorescent on support (July 18/19).
Unique Selling Point: Good music hosted at the most relaxing city centre enclave going.
Longitude @ Marlay Park, Dublin
Friday July 19 – Sunday July 22
Last year's inaugural festival had the bands and the weather, and while we can't predict the latter just yet, the line-up for Longitude features a solid emphasis on new and emerging acts. Haim, Disclosure, Hozier, Massive Attack, Sam Smith, James Vincent McMorrow and Conor Oberst are the main draws but don't miss smaller shows from Banks, George Ezra, Talos and Le Galaxie.
Unique Selling Point: The freshest city festival line-up of the summer?
Vodafone Comedy Festival @ Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
Thursday July 25 – Sunday July 28
With the musicians out of the way, the comedians run rampant in the Gardens. The funny people tasked with leaving you tickled this year include Russell Howard, Trevor Noah, Maeve Higgins, Dara O'Brian, Jason Byrne, David O'Doherty and Bernard O'Shea. While most of the laughter takes place in marquees and tents, there's still an opportunity to have a drink in front of the waterfall.
Unique Selling Point: The only comedy festival bringing in the heavy-hitters.
Festival Big Top @ Galway Arts Festival
Monday July 14 – Sunday July 27
The Big Top is a 3,500 capacity tent and it's going to get good use in Fisheries Field next month with headline events from The National (July 16), Imelda May (July 18) and The Waterboys (July 20) standing tall among a line-up that also features A Night at the Proms with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra (July 26) and a festival edition of Galway's famous Silent Disco with guests Kormac's Big Band (July 26).
Unique Selling Point: Irish people love marquees because we can't rely on the weather. Galway will also be buzzing for the festival.
Laya Healthcare's City Spectacular @ Dublin & Cork
Saturday July 11 – Sunday July 27
The Street Performer's World Championships has been rebranded and expanded. As well as the key events in Dublin's Merrion Square and Cork's Fitzgerald Park, the festival expands to include special once-off events under the In The City banner featuring collaborations with Damn Fine Print, GCN, Nialler9 and more.
Unique Selling Point: A free daytime family-friendly event with internationally renowned street performers.
Electric Picnic @ Stradbally, Co Laois
Friday August 29 – Sunday August 31
Now in its 11th year, and with a long-term commitment from new owners Festival Republic, the Picnic is back to doing what it does best, offering a bewildering array of entertainment lead by some of the most sought-after names in music. Outkast, Beck, Portishead, Pet Shop Boys, Foals, St. Vincent, Lily Allen, Chic, Blondie, Simple Minds, Metronomy, and Jungle, for starters. Body & Soul will be back in Stradbally, as will the Trailer Park, Mindfield, Trenchtown, Salty Dog and the Theatre of Food.
Unique Selling Point: Hands down the most eclectic and wide-ranging line-up of the season.
5 smaller festivals to consider
Light Colour Sound @ Paulstown, Co Kilkenny
Friday July 4 – Saturday July 5
A debut festival on the calendar, LCS features four stages at Shankill Castle site with festival familiars Cathy Davey, Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, Jerry Fish and Wallis Bird. An acoustic tent, and a line-up of spoken word, comedy and theatre is promised too.
Groove Festival @ Bray, Co Wicklow
Saturday July 5 – Sunday July 6
Aimed at an older crowd than most, this Killruddery Estate-set, family friendly festival features known names like Paloma Faith, James, Beautiful South's Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, and David Gray.
Knockanstockan @ Blessington Lakes, Co Wicklow
Friday July 25 – Saturday July 26
This small festival keeps it independent with a line-up of Irish-only bands like Booka Brass Band, The Eskies, I Draw Slow and The Hot Sprockets. The vibe is strong with this one.
Castlepalooza Music & Arts Festival @ Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Co Offaly
Friday August 1 – Sunday August 3
Set in the small and beautiful environs of a gothic (and haunted) castle, in the grounds of which attendees pitch their tents, Castlepalooza has curated some great names in international and local talent like Gruff Rhys, Summer Camp, Gilles Peterson, Andrew Weatherall, Enemies, little xs for eyes, Tvvins and more, for a very reasonable price.
Indiependence Festival @ Deer Park, Mitchelstown, Co Cork
Friday August 1 – Sunday August 3
Indie and rock are the staples of this festival via names like Delorentos, White Lies, Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip and The Minutes rubbing shoulders with Public Enemy, Hozier, The Sultans Of Ping and David Holmes.
First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent