TradFest Kicks Off Its 18th Year in Dublin

Andrew Walsh

Image Credit: Visit Dublin

Ireland’s biggest trad and folk festival, TradFest is returning to Dublin City this week, celebrating music and Irish culture for its 18th year running.

The festival has a busy lineup of trad and folk musicians, spokespeople and presenters, and will be taking place from January 25th to 29th. With a vibrant mix of new faces and musical icons such as Dervish and the Dublin Legends, the festival will showcase the best of established and emerging musical talent across Ireland and abroad.

The cultural celebration is reimagining and redefining Irish music, and the festival has recently emphasised the importance of diversity. In a recent diversity statement, Tradfest spokespeople stated that trad music has been a pillar of recognising Irish identity, but that they are emphasising “Trad without Frontiers” and that “traditional music has no one definition and belongs to no one people”.

TradFest director Martin Harte said they were working towards greater inclusivity, inviting travellers, immigrant groups and LGBTQ+ communities to take part.

“TradFest should be a mirror of Irish society. We want to reflect what ‘New Ireland’ is, the new community that has grown here in recent decades, and to make sure the trad music reflects everybody,” he said.

With more than 85 concerts across the city, of which over 50 are free, the festival is expected to attract large numbers of locals and tourists from a wide variety of cultures, communities and countries.

Christelle Gebhardt, spokesperson for Dublin Pride, said that the LGBTQ+ community across the capital are delighted to be partnering with TradFest, and are glad to be a part of the festival’s commitment to promote diversity and inclusion. The festival will feature a pride night on the 26th January, where queer trad collective, Trad is Amach, will present a concert of  LGBTQ+ artists and allies.

“Trad music is an important part of Irish culture and history, including LGBTQ+ culture, and for nearly 20 years now, LGBTQ+ trad musicians have performed and danced at the céilí (or géilí) at Dublin Pride,” Gebhardt said.

“We are excited to highlight this shared history in collaboration with queer trad collective Trad is Amach and celebrate how far we’ve come, while keeping in mind how far we still have to go.”

As well as emphasising diversity, TradFest has ensured they will strive for equality in gender representation. This year’s event will see a number of female led and curated Trad and Folk performances, in the hopes of greatly increasing women’s participation across the festival programme, as well as building balanced representation. Festival director Harte said that they will continue to push for gender equality and representation for TradFest in the coming years.

“TradFest shouldn’t feel like somebody else’s music, that’s really what we’re saying. Trad music isn’t just for white, middle-aged men, it’s there for everybody. There is a focus this year on greater diversity, but we are going to have that focus every year now,” Harte said.

To view the events and buy tickets, visit: https://tradfesttemplebar.com/whats-on/events/

Andrew Walsh