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The Nialler9 guide to Irish Summer Music Festivals

The Nialler9 guide to Irish Summer Music Festivals

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Sing Along at Electric Picnic

Festival season is already upon us with Irish festivals Forbidden Fruit, AVA Festival, Where Next We Meet, Open Ear and In The Meadows having already taken place alongside its European counterparts like Primavera Sound Barcelona and Porto.

It’s undoubtedly a tough market out there for festivals in general at the moment, with the cost of living crisis among the main factors that throwing down the guts of euros in the the range of €200 plus travel and expenses is a harder sell than in previous years.

For many, their disposable income has been affected by housing crisis-indebted rents along with a post-pandemic shift in the the culture and the demographic audiences trending younger, towards more abrasive and fast dance music styles, has meant that we’ve already seen casualties in the Irish festival market with Body &Soul not taking place this year, Wild Roots cancelling for possibly logistical reasons (or possibly ticketing reasons it’s not clear) a few weeks out and dance-focused Life Festival no longer taking place.

Some of those changes are just a natural part of the rhythm of music festivals, -they have a life span and some change, grow and adapt. Others pop up in their absence, like District X this August or smaller festivals like Ealu na Gra.

Let’s take our bird’s eye view on the festival season in Ireland this summer, focusing on the outdoor music festivals happening in one place over a weekend where tickets are all inclusive rather than single event under one umbrella, like Galway International Arts Festival or series happening at one venue like Fairview Park, Live at the Marquee, Trinity Summer Series or Iveagh Gardens.

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1.

Beyond The Pale

Glendalough, Wicklow

June 21st – 23rd

The third year of Beyond The Pale sees the festival expand on its first outing which sees it have less immediate competition with Body&Soul Festival not taking place this year (it took place on the same weekend – its traditional solstice dates in 2023).

BTP is pulling in some reliable big guns for the main stage with Jungle, Jessie Ware, Orbital and Marc Rebillet artists who have done the business here at festivals and their own Dublin shows in recent years, and there’s a fine lineup of guitar bands, disco, techno, house, folk, singer-songwriter and DJs cut from the alternative cloth.

There’s an emphasis on food with the Ali Dunworth-curated Beyond The Plate area with the theme: Culture, Customs and Craic featuring Holly White, JP McMahon, Bahay, Sian Conway and more. There’s yoga, massages, soundbath and an arts programme that includes Dublin’s hottest queer cabaret Egg, Shane Daniel Byrne, Emmet Kirwan, Cian Austin Jesus and the viral hits
Kabin Crew.

5 Must sees? 2ManyDJs, Jessie Ware, Kara Jackson, Gilla Band, Helena Hauff.

The crowd? Music lovers in their 30s plus.

All we have on Beyond The Pale.

2.

Sea Sessions

Bundoran, Donegal

June 21st – 23rd

The sun, sea, music and surf festival Sea Sessions is putting on its annual festival by the beach by the Donegal town since 2008.

With a music lineup that draws from dance, pop and new Irish music mostly of the mainstream persuasion, Sea Sessions has as much emphasis on seaside sports attractions of the Bundoran beach including surfing, skating, beach sports, BMX, beach yoga and more.

We are giving away weekend passes to Sea Sessions on Instagram.

5 Must sees? Jazzy, Johnny Marr, Blk. Bricknasty, Elaine Mai & Maykay

The crowd? Beach sports enthusiasts and a crowd in their 20s.

All we have on Sea Sessions.

3.

Soundmate 31 Festival

Rock Farm, Slane

June 22nd

Taking place where Otherside Festival happened in Slane, Soundmate31 Festival builds on the dance promoters secret location parties around Dublin in the last few years.

Along with Omni and Otherside as co-promoters, Soundmate31 is a one-day dance festival across 12 hours with buses and a 21s+ policy.

It’s one of two events taking place at Rock Farm this summer, with FJAAK and Yasmin Gardezi among the acts who played last weekend at a similar event titled The One In The Woods.

I’ll be honest, I can’t say I’ve heard of many of the acts playing this one but it’s guaranteed to be for high-BPM dance enthusiasts.

The crowd? House and techno lovers.

All we have on Sea Sessions.

4.

Kaleidoscope Festival

Russborough House, Blessington, Wicklow

June 28th – 30th

The family-first festival is back for its fourth year since it kicked off in 2019.

Kaleidoscope caters for family-first with a huge array of kids activities from baby raves to singalongs to sensory workshops to sports to circus and more happening alongside a chunk of Irish music acts and bigger (usually older) headliners. If you’re a parent going to this and read this website regularly, it might not musically satisfy but there’s still a fair few decent acts on the bill.

5 Must sees? Waterboys, The Academic, King Kong Company, Tolu Makay, Bobbi Arlo.

The crowd? Families. Kids.

5.

Night and Day Festival

Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon

June 28th – 30th

Night & Day which takes place on Lough Key Park near Carrick-On-Shannon returns for its second year.

A regional independent festival packed with emerging Irish music, old reliable favourites and late night DJ sets, Night & Day is a fine little addition to Ireland’s music festival scene.

Set on the well-serviced Lough Key Forest Park, it’s campervan friendly, family-friendly and features woodland walks, trees and canals alongside its tented programme of live music across two days.

5 Must sees? Damien Dempsey, Morgana, Ailbhe Reddy, Caleb Kunle, Kynsy. (I’m also DJing this one)

The crowd? Locals, families and late night fun lovers.

6.

Longitude

Marlay Park

June 29th & 30th

Longitude’s latest iteration leans heavily on hip-hop and pop.

Long gone are the days when Longitude featured acts like Kraftwerk and The National showed up in Marlay Park. These days Longitude knows its audience well and serves them some big names in rap, dance and pop with an emphasis on hip-hop.

This year’s festival main acts include Central Cee, Blk, Belters Only, 21 Savage and Sonny Federa mostly playing to a young crowd. Many more are to be announced still.

3 Must sees? Doja Cat, blk., Jazzy.

The crowd? As one of the only 16s+ friendly festivals going, this is a young crowd who love rap and pop.

7.

Mother Pride Block Party

Collin’s Barracks

June 29th

Mother are going big with Pride this year.

Mother’s Pride Block Party has swivelled from last year’s lineup of Self Esteem, Krystal Klear and Purple Disco Machine across two days to a one-day Saturday event with a focus on pop, dance and drag (the Friday has been given to a similar Brazil-focused pride event Braza Block Party).

Get the pride flags a-ready to Swedish pop artist Cobrah, the “Bad Babysitter” herself Princess Superstar, Robin S, the ’90s dance singer known for ‘Show Me Love’, drag queen Sasha Velour and Northern Irish drag artist Blu Hydrangea.

3 Must sees? Robin S, Princess Superstar, Celaviedmai, Sing Along Social, Ping Pong Disco.

The crowd? Pride celebrating LGBTQ+ and their pals.

8.

Stendhal

Limavady, Northern Ireland

July 4th – 6th

Northern Ireland’s biggest independent music and arts camping festival.

Stendhal has always had a lineup rooted in its Northern Irish music roots so there’s plenty of the lineup featuring such acts this year including The Wood Burning Savages, Rory Nellis, Conchúr White, Lydia Ford and more.

And this year, Stendhal has gone big on a nostalgia headline buzz with The Zutons, a Hot Chip DJ set, Gomex, The Orb and more.

5 Must sees? Hot Chip DJ Set, Gomez, Filmore!, Conchúr White, Chubby Cat.

The crowd? Nothern Irish music fans in the main.

9.

Forest Fest

July 19th – 21st

Emo Village, Laois

Just down the road from Electric Picnic’s Stradbally site, is a festival of a decidedly nostalgia persuasion.

Rewind to the 80s and 90s with live sets from The Human League, Ocean Colour Scene, Dexys, The Cult, Ash, The Divine Comedy, EMF, Stereo MCs and eh, Glasvegas?

3 Must sees? Lisa Hannigan, Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny, The Human League.

The crowd? People in their late 40s and 50s plus based off the acts.

10.

All Together Now

August 1st – 4th

Curraghmore, Waterford

The biggest festival of the summer that isn’t EP, All Together Now has established itself as the go-to marquee festival of the summer for people who go to gigs regularly.

Taking place near Portlaw in Waterford, it features 18 stages of programming of music, food, cabaret, talks, DJs, spoken word and much more, and is stacked with music of all kinds from the late-night DJ sets at Arcadia with Ross From Friends, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra performing the music of Sinéad O’Connor, Shane MacGowan & Christy Dignam, the best of the current Irish talent like Rachael Lavelle, Sprints, Kojaque, The Mary Wallopers, John Francis Flynn, Lemoncello, Niamh Regan and the headliner status of The National, Future Islands, Jorja Smith, The Prodigy and the contentious booking of Roísín Murphy.

See Also
Biig Piig

5 Must sees? Confidence Man, NewDad, Glass Beams, Barry Can’t Swim, Floating Points.

The crowd? People who go to more than two music festivals every summer.

All we have on All Together Now.

11.

Electric Picnic

August 16th to 18th

Stradbally, Co. Laois

Ireland’s festival juggernaut marches on this time in an early August slot to accommodate Coldplay concert production crew.

Electric Picnic 2024 already sold out without a sniff of a lineup nearly 12 months before it is due to take place.

Such is the popularity of the festival that it almost doesn’t matter who is playing, people will flock to Stradbally anyway. The lineup was announced 9 months after it sold out with Kylie, Calvin Harris and Noah Kahan as headliners.

5 Must sees? Kylie, Kneecap, Peggy Gou, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Teddy Swims.

The crowd? Everyone with a predominant audience of people in their 20s and people in their 50s.

12.

Another Love Story

August 23rd – 25th

Killyon Manor, Meath

As we’ve said many times before, ALS is our favourite little festival with a big heart.

The little festival that does, celebrates 10 years this year but inviting back many of its pals for an encore set, along with some new faces. There are sets from German piano & electronics duo Grandbrothers, Jape, Australian psychedelic jazz outfit Mildlife, Donegal finger pickin’ blues singer Muireann Bradley, Shit Robot, Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy, David Kitt’s New Jackson and much more still to be announced (including a Nialler9 set – shh).

ALS is as much about the vibe of the place as the programming, and its small footprint and lovely crowd are what keep the same people returning every year.

5 Must sees? Jape, Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy, Shit Robot, Oisin Leech, Mildlife.

The crowd? The nicest bunch of people you’ll likely meet.

13.

Emerge Festival

August 24rd – 25th

Boucher Playing Fields, Belfast

Emerge eh, emerged in Belfast after the success of AVA Festival and is further capitalising on the thirst for dance and club festivals as that early June event. As it happens it takes place where AVA took place in 2021.

Emerge features a lot of crossover of house and techno over two days in Boucher Fields.

5 Must sees? Peggy Gou, Kettama B2B Skin On Skin, Mall Grab, VTSS, Interplanetary Criminal

The crowd? House and techno heads.

14.

Fuinneamh

September 14th & 15th

Bellurgan Park, Co. Louth

“Fuinneamh Festival is more than just a festival, it is a community, a tribe,” is how it bills itself.

Fuinneamh is one of the smaller boutique music festival offerings on the island, with a predominant music interest in electronic underground music, good soundsystems, holistic areas and a smattering of Celtic mysticism.

5 Must sees? Steffi, R.Kitt, Dax J, Cormac, Dj Assault, Surka

The crowd? Discerning electronic music enthusiasts with a spiritual side.

14.

District X

September 21st

Palmerstown House, Kildare

District X is a new 20,000 capacity one-day festival being out on by promoters District 8 and Index.

Taking place where the D8 In The Garden shows are happening this summer with Carl Cox, Mall Grab and Armand Van Helden and more are playing, District X is offering a big one-day dance music party to rival Life Festival in previous years catering to those who know their Chicago house from their Detroit techno.

5 Must sees? Kettama, Yasmin Gardezi, Kerri Chandler, EMA, Sammy Virji

The crowd? House and techno heads.


See all we have on this year’s gigs and festival in our category.

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