The excitement is building with a week to go until we return to Curraghmore House for All Together Now festival in Portlaw, Waterford.
We’ve had a look previously at some of the dance and electronic acts along with some Irish favourites, in terms of music we recommend, but a festival is not just music, and All Together Now has certainly made it clear it cares about a multifaceted festival experience – inclusive to families, while offering some fresh new things that you may not have experienced before or food that may, and I’m warning you now, may get you salivating in anticipation.
Here’s a look at some choice experiences to look forward to at ATN.
Pitt Bros x John Relihan Smoked Barbeque
If the last couple of weeks have reminded us of anything, it’s that we love a BBQ, and the smell of a smokey pit or grill ready for some tasty meat.
Dublin Dame Street BBQ connoisseurs Pitt Bros are teaming up with chef and pit master John Relihan for a Smoked Barbeque served in a proper dining experience.
Relihan has come up with a three-course menu, which you can pre-book across 7 times over the three days in a customised indoor seated space created just for the festival.
The Barbeque Feast will be augmented by a full bar and guest DJs, with lunch on offer on Saturday and Sunday morning, with vegan offerings too.
If it’s an oasis of calm you’re looking for, best look further down the list babes.
Ping Pong Disco is a new area at All Together Now where disco, art, performance, queerness and community come together.
With performances curated by Lords Of Strut’s Cian Austin Jesus, art design by Brian Wallace and music programmed by Cork disco sounder Eddie Kay, expect a riot of colour, disco bops and bangers and a whole load of free expression.
Resident DJs include Tonie Walsh, MC Gaffe and Eddie Kay, while you can expect performances + Go Go dancing driven by the Ping Ping Girls rom Paradise Cabaret.
Guest DJs and performers include Moving Still, Brian Ring, Xnthony, Mags, P Disconaut, The Dirtbird, A Man To Pet, Angi, Libby Halliday and many more.
It’s called All Together Now which does not mean it’s only for adults.
The decision to take a child or two to a festival always comes with extra consideration for how to manage the experience for both adults and children.
All Together Now’s family offering is a dedicated area in a walled garden that runs all three days and has plenty to keep all occupied. Offerings include:
The Actual Reality arcade – a life sized interactive game zone inspired by classic arcade games.
The Disco Shed – a bespoke converted shed with DJs and some traditional games and Sunday morning football.
Professor Caperjape’s Academy of Pranks! – Professor Caperjape and his fabulous faculty are searching for the brightest and best future pranksters to take part in classes in jokes, jestery and gags.
Workshops – learn graffiti, printmaking, pottery, jewellery, how to make slime, crafts, facepainting and more.
Or do the Ringo Music Bingo or run away and join the circus with Dublin Circus school.
The lawns of Curraghmore beside the lake is one of the festival’s most calming areas, and it’s where the wellness area curated by .Kundalini Yoga expert Kary Stewart has set up camp.
Being at a festival for three days doesn’t mean you have to have a sore back or not get the chance to unwind, and this private spaces offers three areas which facilitates a number of relaxation activities and workshops including yoga, massage, and sound healing.
It is staffed by highly skilled group of local therapists offering reiki, craniosacral healing, aromatherapy, massage, reflexology and shamanic clearing. Calm The Overwhelm with Hilary or Sound Healing with Deb? There’s something for everyone.
Nestled near the Bandstand, is the Greencrafts village where you can participate and learn new skills with your hands.
A lovely thing to do when you need a break from the beats, you can create fresh flower garlands, woodwork, blacksmith, weave willow, work with silver and copper and other textiles. No booking required.
Pro tip – it’s also got plenty of seating for when you need a moment.
A returning experience at All Together Now, Grub Circus is a two-day programme of food-themed events, demos, cooking competitions, tastings, workshops, debates programmed and hosted by food writer Joe McNamee, and featuring some of Ireland top food personalities, chefs, makers and producers.
There’s plenty of audience participation too – meaning plenty of food and drink to try, from natural wine to live fire cooking to a mushroom knowledge workshop.
Some unique events to book? Let Ballymaloe’s Rory O’Connell cook you breakfast on a single gas ring or watch a 80-year-old Chinese grandmother teach Michelin-starred chef Kevin Thornton how to make proper dumplings or whiskey tasting with Seaneen O’Sullivan of L. Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter.
There’s also an in-house bands featuring West Cork violinist Justin Grounds and appearances from Darina Allen, Paul Flynn, Diarmuid Gavin, Lily Ramirez Foran and many more.
And speaking of food, the extensive list of vendors on the site include some festival favourites Ixca (great new Taco spot), Camille, Home Fries (the most reliable and tasty carbs), Kerala Kitchen, My Goodness (for delicious Kombucha) and Yumgrum vegan food.
No proper festival is complete without a glut of funny people to bring some levity to the situation.
As befitting its stature, ATN is bringing some of Ireland’s funniest comics to Portlaw including establised acts like Ardal O’Hanlon, Barry Murphy, Jason Byrne, Deirdre O’Kane, Neil Delamere and upcomers like Emily Ashmore, Killian Sundermann, Anna Clifford and Jack McKenna.
One of the biggest crowds of the previous festivals was the Sunday morning brunch at the Bandstand with Blindboy and that’s set to be repeated along with a weekend brunch and a special musical comedy set from the one and only David O’Doherty.
AVA in the Woods
We had a blast at last year’s AVA Festival in Belfast last year, and the electronic festival is returning to Curraghmore and moving into the woods to offer a whole new experience for dancing this year.
With visuals by Algorithm, you can expect big festival sets from international acts like Eclair Fifi, Perel, Salute, Yung Singh and Irish favourites R.Kitt, Eve, Bklava, Cromby, Long Island Sound and Cartin.