Sunday 8 December 2019

'The novelty of BYO booze is still there - we're not cashing in on new legislation' - Good Friday BD Festival promoter

Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

The promoter of BD Festival, which takes place annually on Good Friday in Wicklow, has said the new legislation allowing the sale of alcohol on the day has had no impact on the event.

When it kicked off as Barn Dance back in 2007 the festival was promoted as the ultimate Good Friday event for those who wanted to get around the legislation and imbibe on the day with its hugely popular 'bring your own' booze policy.

The prohibition of the sale of alcohol on Good Friday in Ireland had been around since the Intoxicating Liquor Act of 1927 and BD Festival with its BYO policy and music line-up offered arguably the most enjoyable way to get around it.

With the new law overturning the prohibition, signed into effect by President Michael D Higgins this week, it takes away one of the main draws of BD for some festivalgoers and promoter Brian McDermott admits they were a little concerned about how the law would impact the festival.

"Naturally we were probably a little bit [concerned] but we had seen it coming for a few years," he tells

"We weren't sure how it would affect us but it's been quite positive from what we've seen and we kind of welcome it to be honest.  It's a good change.  It's probably about time."

While there will be a licensed bar selling alcohol on site at Glendalough House for the first time, the BYO policy will remain in place.

"The novelty is still there," says Brian.  "You can still bring your own and we're not stopping that. If we were stopping that I think people would certainly be disappointed because they'd be thinking we were just trying to cash in on it. We're not doign that.

"We have a really good value proposition with tickets starting at just €40 and you can bring your own drink, get your bus ticket, and you could be in and out of the whole show for €70 or €80 which is unheard of when it comes to a festival with four music stages and 12 hours of entertainment."

Eleven years in the festival has also grown "its own legs", says Brian, so the novelty of drinking on Good Friday has not been its biggest selling point in recent years.

"The show sells itself now in many ways and the experience people get when they go there is what they really go there for.  We have a strong line up but we're more focused on the user experience than your run of the mill event that might be on that night," he adds.

Tickets are selling as fast as they have ever sold so far and with the festival selling out completely in the last five years, Brian is confident it will sell out again if it continues selling at the current rate.

The line-up this year includes house music legend Kerri Chandler, Belgian house DJ The Magician, Perc, Boots & Kats, Fleetmac Wood, and Smash Hits.  Also returning will be Bingo Loco, 'bingo with rave rounds, CO2 guns, confetti cannons, conga lines and dance offs'.

Tickets for BD Festival on March 30 are available on and are currently priced at €45.00 + €4.50 Fee.

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