Festival Fit


Three festivals every week for a year. Mark Grahamgets ready for doomsday

IF YOU’RE READING this, it’s safe to assume that you’re not standing on a beach with Thom Yorke and his guitar, feeling fine with Michael Stipe, involved in a pre-apocalyptic ménage à trois with Nick Cave, and the world hasn’t ended. Not yet anyway. You may not be in a position to shell out for the privilege of heading up a mountain with the bunch of well-heeled French folk who have sought shelter at altitude in an Armageddon-proof shelter, Bruce Willis stationed on the roof. The unfairness of the world (and of being omitted from la guestlist) was reflected nicely in something an 11-year-old boy had to say to me about the whole situation: “The world is meant to end this Friday. That’s the day we’re getting our holidays from school. Typical!”

So what do we do while we wait for the day after today? We can start by revealing the results of the Festival Fit branch of The Ticket Awards 2012.

Just before we do that, though (oh, the suspense!), might I suggest some ways we can make a bit like Prince and party like it’s Mayan calendar time. We don’t need too much of an excuse for festivalling at the best of times. We’ve been throwing sessions of distinction on December 21st for 2,500 years before the three wise lads rocked up to the stable in Bethlehem to see Himself blow out the candles. There is a school of thought that suggests the early-morning lightshow in Newgrange was a precursor to the Pink Floyd experience. The pre-Christian party raged through the night, and when that shaft of light hit the passageway, the crowd would erupt into a frenzy more pronounced than when Born Slippy kicked in at the end of Underworld’s set at Homelands 1999.

The National Winter Solstice Festival, due to take place tonight at the National Show Centre near Dublin Airport, has alas been cancelled due to poor ticket sales. The organisers took the interesting step of purposely making this an alcohol-free event. I suppose if the world is ending, it might be handy to have your wits about you. Or not.

If you like your pagan party to be rootsy, fear not: there is undoubtedly a stone circle somewhere near you where Ireland’s druidic and shamanic community will be gathering to do the rites right. Drombeg stone circle in Co Cork will see some action. You’d be surprised at how many people don cloaks and practise this way of life

as a religion. When it comes to festivalling, this crowd have bragging rights; they’re at it longer than anyone else and, to be perfectly honest, pagans know how to really let their hair down. Luckily, I’m an equal-opportunity festivaller.

I can now reveal the festival you voted best in show for The Ticket Awards 2012. The results reflect not just the popularity of the festivals (all 10 essential inclusions on your calendar as far as I’m concerned), but also the amount of people who attended each festival. Probably should have weighted it by attendance, but I’m shite at sums.

It finishes Electric Picnic by a length. A thoroughbred, no doubt.Body and Soul give a strong performance in second place, with Knockanstockan challenging all the way on the outside, finishing third in a strong field.

If the world doesn’t end tonight, I’ll see you at the 2013 festivals.

Safe travels, don’t die.


Top 10 Fests











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