The West is going to be wide awake and up late on the weekend of June 23 and 24 as Co. Mayo hosts the inaugural Westport Festival of Music and Performing Arts, featuring a truly outstanding line-up of over 50 top Irish and international acts on three stages over two days.
Highlights include Imelda May, in her last concert performance before she goes on maternity leave; Ray Davies of The Kinks, who may be inspired to rewrite Waterloo Sunset when he sees Westport’s; and Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
Speaking of which, many of the acts could have stepped straight from the set of Later With Jools Holland, which showcases the best music around, new and old – Seasick Steve, Nick Lowe, the Waterboys, the Chieftains, Macy Gray and Beth Orton.
The festival naturally features a plethora of famous and up-and-coming Irish acts, so much so that it feels like the London Fleadh has flown from Finsbury Park to the shores of Clew Bay.
As well as Imelda and the Chieftains, there’s the Dubliners, Horslips, Mundy, Hothouse Flowers, Duke Special, Damien Dempsey, the Undertones, David Kitt and The Four of Us.
There’s also a bit of an Eighties revival vibe, with the likes of Alison Moyet, Marc Almond and Lloyd Cole giving parents a chance to show their kids how they used to groove back in the day.
Maybe that’s why it’s been described as a grown-up festival for music fans who treasure their record collections!
In fact, if you have kids, Westport Festival is the perfect way to introduce them to the pleasures of a live music event, as children aged 12 and under go free to both festival and campsite.
The on-site family area will rival any festival in the world, with the incredible Westport House Pirate Adventure Park on the festival grounds.
Families will be able to enjoy the Cannonball Run Slide, the Pirates Swinging Ship and Plunge Ride, plus the gorgeous Swan Pedaloe Boats, bouncy castles, the Westport House Express miniature train ride and many more fun festival activities!
Set against the backdrop of Westport House, one of Ireland’s most beautiful historic homes, the event promises a relaxed and friendly vibe, first class festival facilities and the finest local food and refreshments.
Festival-goers will also have the opportunity to spend a summer weekend in the heart of one of Ireland’s most welcoming resort towns.
Packed with great hotels, restaurants and bars (not least Matt Molloy’s of Chieftains fame), Westport also sits on the doorstep of Ireland’s loveliest landmarks from Croagh Patrick to Clew Bay and Achill Island.
The festival will also feature a large-scale arts installation that will make Spinal Tap fans think they’ve turned it up to 11, died and gone to heaven.
The Dolmen, inspired by the Neolithic portal tombs, will stand over 30ft tall. Its makers, the International Arts Megacrew, co-founded by Dubliner Diarmaid Horkan, earned its stripes at the Burning Man Arts Festival in Nevada.
Vanity Fair author William Makepeace Thackeray wrote of Westport and Clew Bay after visiting in 1842: “Were such beauties lying upon English shores, it would be a world’s wonder.
Perhaps if it were on the Mediterranean or the Baltic, English travellers would flock to it by their hundreds. Why not come and see it in Ireland?”
What are you waiting for?
Tickets: €75 per day, €130 for weekend or €150 for camping and festival ticket. Under-12s free when accompanied by a ticket-holding adult guardian. Tel: 0844 5441010 or book online at www.ticketgroup.ie.