I met a guy at a festival who cycled from Belfast to get there. The festival was in Westmeath. If you are like that guy, and maybe want to meander around to some music festivals this summer, let me make your cycle (or other journey) quicker to plan.
I’ve gathered a handful of Irish festivals and compared the costs, meaning you don’t have to. These graphs cater to both camping and non-camping tastes – but if you’re reading this article with a dislike for informative visual data then now is the time to turn away.
[Update: Scrobarnach is now €65] [Update: HTBX is now €40]
Scrobarnach (€45) is a cosy 600 person festival showcasing some of the finest electronic acts in Ireland, now in its third year. Taking place in Portlaoise, tickets increase to €55, €65 and then €85 over the next few months. I’ve been to this one twice; the smaller festivals really do deliver on authentic quality experience.
Fuinneamh (€65) is replacing Lunasa festival this year, taking place in Louth and bringing you more electronic wave forms to please your ears. Tickets are currently at the ultra-early bird stage, and will increase later. Check out the lineup which features a variety of styles and sounds. Listen below for a taste..
HTBX (€30) is Hotbox Promotions, and one of the cheapest on our list. This gathering is all about the original and creative DJs and producers who can bring you passion that makes your face dance, and you’ll also meet some fine individuals. Raising money for charity is a noble cause – with tickets priced at just 30 bean you might as well buy two. Book some time off in May for this one, future you will be thankful you did. Check out last year.
The Rory Gallagher Festival (€79) needs very little introduction. But anyway, the rock and blues legend will be celebrated in his hometown of Donegal in June. This festival is made for the music lovers who only need a four string chord and piano keys to get their heart racing – why not pay a tribute to the legend.
Electric Picnic (€240) is one of the most popular festivals in the country. Always selling out early and having people scrambling for scalped tickets, if you want to go you’d best be diligent. It’s the most expensive on the list, but with big name acts like the Chemical Brothers in 2016, I guess the money has to come from somewhere.
Body & Soul (€165) is one to tick off your to-do list. With over 10,000 attending each year it’s more like a giant house party with grand scale tunes of varied genres. Taking place in Westmeath during the summer solstice, it’s a festival with a reputation for quirkiness and the feeling of walking around a rainbow circus.
Indiependence (€119) is for the alternative rock music lovers, with some chill out vibes thrown in to sooth the soul. Towards the end of the festival season in August you can enjoy some of the handpicked talent this Cork gathering has to offer – take a look.
BARE in the Woods (€125) is a music and arts festival in Laois, with a combination of music and comedy over the weekend. This year it’s expanding to three days giving you more time and space to experience some spoken word, DJs, Irish music, and artisan food.
Life (€159) is another very popular electronic music festival in Ireland. With a mixture of international and Irish DJs you can find your niche pretty easily. Westmeath is where it’s at, and May is when it’s happening. Book early.
Sea Sessions (€124.99) is on in the surf town of Bundoran this June, and won the IMRO Live Music festival of the year in 2016. If you want to surf while listening to quality rock music, DJs, and indie tunes this is something made just for you. The festival also caters to those who love a bit of BMX and skating – probably the healthiest festival on the list.
Castlepalooza (€119) is an independent music and arts festival. If you’ve never been to Charleville Castle, you can kill two birds with one stone and head over to this in August. You’ll get to see local bands, comedy, and original artistic performances. Take a break and avoid the mainstream this summer.
Townlands Carnival (€105) is embracing the carnival spirit, with art installations and performances, family friendly experiences, and of course, tunes. It describes itself as an uplifting experience. You’ll have to go down to Cork to find out if this is true.
Vantastival (€85) is a family friendly music festival in Louth. It’s moderately priced compared to others on the list and doesn’t charge extra if you bring a campervan. It’s got a mixture of genres, mostly rock and indie tunes and activities all over the place. If this is your thing, squeeze this one into your June bank holiday weekend.
Fair enough if you like camping, but maybe you don’t. Or maybe you do and you just like the odd cup of tea and mattress every now and then. Here are the prices for the non-camping festivals.
[Festivals marked with (*) were made up of separate paid gigs – an average cost was taken]
Kilkenny Roots Festival*(€14.66) has been celebrating Americana and roots music since 1998, and this year starts at the end of April. There are few festivals of its kind taking place over the summer, and its gigs are scattered around Kilkenny town. Rustic vibes and skilled guitar strumming here, and the average price is less than €15 – the most value for money on the list.
Forbidden Fruit (€145.50) has attracted some great acts over the years. This year is no different, and it is right on your doorstep if you live in Dublin. You’ll have a mix of music, performances and art to choose from this June. Alternatively, you can buy separate days if you can’t go to the whole weekend. Aphex Twin is returning this year – woop!
Harvest Time Blues (€85) is possibly one of the best things about Monaghan, and is described as one of the best live music festivals in the country. Running since 1990 it continues to draw a crowd. A full ticket is €85, but you can cherry pick from 2 venues, and the Blues Trail is free for all who attend.
Barn Dance (€60) is celebrating its 10th birthday this year in Wicklow. Good Friday is the day, with a line-up of DJs announced so far. And a Smash Hits tribute band, because those tunes just never die. Something for everyone seems to be the motto.
AVA Festival (€69.50) is taking place in June up north in Befast, with some DJs and producers the other festivals maybe couldn’t get hold of or just didn’t. With a focus on art installations and visual displays it tries to make it an all round stimulating experience that delivers to all the senses.
Belsonic* (€35.30) is ten years old, and has Arcade Fire in its line up. ‘Where can I buy tickets?!’ I hear you screaming – you can buy tickets to each and every gig that you like on their website. Another excuse to go to Belfast. More acts to be announced, so keep your eyes peeled.
Beatyard (€89) is one of a small number of Dublin city festivals (it’s Dun Laoghaire but still). You might recognise the Bodytonic crowd behind this – they’re responsible for some gigs in the Bernard Shaw, The Grand Social and really they’re all over the place. They’ve got Air playing, one of the finest bands of all time. Go!
Longitude (€189.50) in Marlay Park. This venue has hosted some legends in its lifetime. You can pick your favourite day or go to all three. Saturday tickets have sold out so you will have to think quickly about this one. If a mixed genre bouquet of rap, rock, indie and some DJs is your thing then maybe this is for you.
Dingle Trad fest* (€17.50) is a mostly free event; this figure is based on two events that had an entry fee. If you haven’t been in a pub until 4am in the middle of a trad session with yells of “yeoow” in one ear and the sounds of a bodhrán in the other, then you’ve missed out on an essential life experience. Sort that out.
Galway Arts Festival* (€39.30) is a summer tradition in Galway. There’s music, theatre, art, poetry, workshops street performances. Not much of the line up has been announced so far. In the past they’ve had Primal Scream, Spiritualized, Bon Iver, Duke Special, and Lisa Hannigan to name a few.
Now all you have to do is pick an event. Or you know, try the old fashioned way of hopping a fence into every one and embrace the free music spirit. Either way, there’s plenty to choose from.