It is true to say, we have become an island of festivals. Any excuse for party, a piss-up and a boogie, and we’re there. If, for whatever reason, you couldn’t attend any of the numerous festivals held over the summer, never fear. We here at The Suss have gone to the trouble of reviewing everything that went down so you’ll have no trouble deciding where to pitch your tent next year.
Billed as a surf and music festival, Sea Sessions gives the daytime over to the waves, with surfers from all over Europe wowing us with their most tubular moves while punters work off hangovers in various beach sport tournaments. Other typical seaside activities include beach volleyball, tag rugby, ultimate frizbee, as well as surfing and body-boarding competitions. Not to mention the fact that the festival atmosphere is as apparent in Bundoran town as it is on site.
Why you should go next year: The festival’s location and size lend to its immense charm – plus, there’s no danger of missing any of the action on the tiny festival site as everything is packed into two tents.
Highs: Amazing Apples delivered a stunning performance Friday night, while Jape and Cyril Hahn sets on Saturday and Sunday respectively enchanted all revelers.
Lows: A booking policy that combines the best independent Irish acts with mainstream international DJs didn’t seem to create the kind of cohesive community spirit that keeps you coming back these smaller festivals.
Price?: A three day ticket will set you back €130.
Is an introduction even needed? With the biggest festival in the country contracted to run until 2023, there’s no excuse not to visit Stradbally in Co. Laois for Electric Picnic at some point in your life. A line-up full of new and also established performers alike, it was hotly anticipated, and tipped to be the event of the summer.
Why you should go next year: Aside from a seemingly glowing musical lineup, there was plenty of other activities including the Comedy Arena, yoga and cookery classes, However, for many music fans it means attending as many acts as possible. Also, expect to spend a LOT of money at the amusements – who can resist bumper cars?
Highs: FKA twigs’ rendition of Glass & Patron made up for her cancellation last year. Indie rock gods Blur followed with a ground-shaking set, ensuring hoarse voices and questionable dance moves. 20 year old Shamir Bailey made an exhilarating appearance at Body & Soul at 3am, making sure the party lasted well into the early hours. Cover star Florence + The Machine had a little leftover magic from Glastonbury to shower on the survivors Sunday night. Immersed in her own performance, Florence drew an almighty audience to watch her close the show.
Lows: Sam Smith’s closing track, Stay With Me lacked passionate and was uninspired. Yawn. A lot of people weren’t happy with Gorgeous George Ezra’s performance either, remarking that it seemed like he was stoned. Hmm.
Price?: There’s a whole host of ticket options for EP – early bird tickets are €200, and the installment plan starts at €68.
Indiependence is Cork’s main major music festival, having hosted acts such as Bastille, Scroobius Pip and Tom Odell in the last ten years. Admittedly, being on the smaller side, the festival has little else to offer ammenities-wise, other than non-stop music. Despite this, the festival still has many merits – like the fact that you’ll definitely bump into at least one person you know.
Why you should go next year: This is, unquestionably, the friendliest festival in Ireland. Given its small nature, community spirirt runs deep in Mitchelstown at the time of the festival. When it comes to things to do, the Beer Hall is home to a loads of specially selected craft beers – it’s not bad for a bop either.
Highs: Basement Jaxx tore up the Main Stage at this year’s event, giving a typically high calibre performance that sent bodies flailing. Irish twosome All Tvvins also stole the show, with a suitably charismatic, eclectic set.
Lows: Indiependence is famously plagued by bad weather, and they upheld tradition in August. Sunday saw plenty of waterlogged tents and runny noses.
Price?: The price tiers range from €90 to €119 for three days. Get in early and grab a bargain!
And if you’d like to try something completely different …
HevyFest takes place across the pond in Kent. Despite dire storm warnings conditions couldn’t have been better. Back for its seventh year, Port Lympne Reserve in Kent played host to three stages of punk, hardcore and metal for fans who spent the weekend pinballing between musical acts and the spectacular wild animal park five minutes away.
Why you should go next year: Don’t let the name put you off – there’s something for everyone here. All genres are covered here. The afternoon entertainment, home of hopeful up-and-comers, turned up a few pleasant surprises. CHON (with far more in common with Japanese outfit LITE than an all-caps name) kicked Friday off in style, charming a lunchtime audience with intricate instrumental rock. Other highlights included Milk Teeth’s sharp, modern grunge and the plucky Trash Boat, who dished out infectious pop-punk in chewy, sugary morsels.
Highs: Mathcore stalwarts The Dillinger Escape Plan. Taking the festival’s moniker very seriously, the New Jersey natives went straight for the throat with some of their most challenging, brutal work. A freshly reformed Fall Of Troy blasted through their seminal Doppelgänger in full on Saturday, electrifying a heaving crowd.
Low: Headliners Coheed And Cambria, committed to performing their obscure sophomore album, couldn’t match Dillinger’s frenetic energy. Overshadowing the evening’s advertised main events, HORSE The Band blew the roof off the tent they were unjustly confined to with 8-bit synthesisers, searing art metal and buckets of sweat. Despite all this, at one point, the band’s triangle player rocked out so hard he managed to knee himself in the eye. Ouch.
Price?: Tier 1 tickets are currently at £79 for three day weekend camping. Installment plans are also currently on sale.
Kerri Nic An Tsaoir, Stephen Keegan, Rebecca Keane, Fionnuala Jones, Dónal Kennedy