After spending a weekend at the Doolin Folk Festival last month I am still raving about how fantastic it was.
A superb line-up of tremendously talented musicians in a location that comes next to perfect led to three days of unadulterated festival fun.
Tickets are already on sale for next year and I would highly recommend grabbing them while you can.
Apart from the obvious reason that I will be there, here are 10 other valid excuses to buy tickets for Doolin Folk Festival 2020 today.
10. The location
Doolin is a picture-perfect village on the Wild Atlantic Way in west Clare. Gateway to the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Island, it is where land meets the sea in the most magical way.
The surrounding landscape is stunning, dotted with sheep, cows and pretty houses.
It has some of the best pubs on the west coast of Ireland, a traditional music shop, a delicious chocolate shop and enough sweaters to keep you toasty for life.
Doolin is where you feel your heart rate slowing as you cross the little bridge and find yourself chatting to random people about the weather.
In other words, it is the ideal spot for a festival and Hotel Doolin was the perfect host for the event.
9. The weather
Blistering heat is not everyone’s idea of perfect festival weather and if you’re anything like me you won’t enjoy baking under a hot sun all weekend worried you might pass out at any moment.
This is why Doolin was perfect for the folk festival this year. It stayed dry but not too hot during the day but became cooler in the evenings when a jacket or some kind of woollen wrap was enough to cosy up beside one of the two campfires outside the barn.
8. The toilets
Festivals are renowned for their lack of satisfactory toilet facilities that rapidly deteriorate as the weekend progresses. But at the Doolin Folk Festival, this was not the case.
The toilets were accessible whenever needed with a manageable queuing system. Toilet paper was aplenty while the facilities appeared to be regularly checked and cleaned.
Soap was to hand leaving the whole experience most pleasant … a major plus to any festival weekend in my book.
7. The pop-up shops
This may also be appealing to a niche group of festival-goers but there was a gorgeous little pop-up shop at the folk festival selling handmade wraps, scarfs and a selection of tweed.
The bargain basket was of particular interest to me.
6. The beer
Moving swiftly on, the beer was delicious and cost a reasonable 5 euro a pint. After waking up with a slightly sore head on the second day I discovered the refreshing taste of Rockshore lighter lager for round two.
It has a lower alcohol content that means you can enjoy the evening without worrying about missing breakfast. The Guinness also comes recommended from a very reliable source.
5. Fellow festival-goers
It is not uncommon for music events to attract a certain amount of ‘unsavoury’ characters but at the Doolin Folk Festival, I experienced nothing but positive energy in a relaxed communal environment.
Perhaps it was the fusion of tradition and experimental creativity that enhanced the crowd but everyone was friendly, calm and having fun.
People had travelled from all corners of the globe including America, New Zealand and Europe. Not to mention our friendly neighbours from the UK.
4. The line-up
Hotel Doolin created an intimate yet comfortable space with outdoor fire pits, pretty lighting and hay bales to sit on. The main stage in The Barn hosted musicians on a close yet elevated platform providing clear views to everyone.
Eco-friendly organisers created a paper-free strategy so the line up for the weekend was artistically advertised on the walls.
It included a plethora of talent ranging from the traditional tones of the wonderful CLANNAD to the international sounds of TAMIKREST, to name but two.
For the whole weekend, the line-up just kept giving and we were overwhelmed by the superb amount of musical genius.
3. The White Horse Sessions
The weekend took a whole new direction once we discovered The White Horse Stage upstairs. We felt we had discovered the hidden jewel in the festival crown and were wowed by yet more supreme talent.
It feels slightly unforgiving to single out acts as the stage played host to some of the best musicians I have witnessed in a long time.
BILLOW WOOD, however, blew me away as I have never seen them live before. And I feel fellow Dubliners, SHAKALAK, needs a mention as their set left me inspired and refreshed.
2. Local talent
By this, I don’t (necessarily) mean the handsome men of county Clare and beyond. I’m referring to the super talented new musicians that showcased their skills at the festival.
Local artist Mxse, aka Mason Roche, got the crowd really going on Saturday evening with his creative spoken word donned in his bespoke homemade Garda tracksuit…an exciting new artist putting Irish rap firmly on the map.
1. Craic agus Ceol
Ultimately, people who buy tickets for a folk music festival in the west of Ireland are hoping for a good dollop of Craic agus Ceol. Translated as ‘music and general shenanigans/fun’ there is nowhere on earth you will find the two so perfectly merged.
If a range of traditional and modern instruments played to jaw-dropping perfection and lyrics to feed the soul are your idea of music then the Doolin Folk Festival is where you need to be next year.
Add to the mix, a selection of like-minded people and good old-fashioned Irish banter and you have a weekend you won’t forget.
Find early bird tickets here to even save a few quid.