Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Welcome to festival republic

This was the summer when Irish music fans had more festivals than they could count to choose from

The next generation of festival goers step out at last weekend's Electric Picnic. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 10:15


It’s time to pack away the tent for another year. Yes, for the pedants in the festival, we know that there are a few more outdoor festivals to go – Valentia Island, Spirit of Folk etc – but, in the main, we can put a lid on it for summer 2013.

This was the season which will go down as a tipping point for the Irish music festival sector. In years past, we’ve conducted a census here to show people the huge number of outdoor events, big shows and festivals in the country, but there was no need for that in 2013 – you coudln’t escape the festival sector. Maybe it was all down to the Gathering?

We had expansive new arrivals (Longitude), festivals which bombed (Oxegen, whose audience was half that of what the organisers were planning for) and festivals which sold out (Electric Picnic’s tenth outing). All bases were covered – there’s no need for an annual census to realise we’re a festival republic.

Attention now turns to 2014. You can expect many of this year’s crop to return to action, but all eyes will be on the big two.

Given that Festival Republic boyos MCD and Live Nation have a share in both Oxegen and Electric Picnic, both festivals are linked at the hip. Given, of course, the new audience which the latter attracted from the former this year, that link between the two is quite umbilical.

Will Oxegen continue down the EDM path and recalibrate itself as a 25,000 capacity event? Will the Picnic capitalise on its more mainstream pivoting and continue to attract the Oxegen fans who loath dance music and want to try out a festival still seen as “cool”? And will something else emerge to fill the emerging gap in the market?

Add in the usual one-off gigs, delinquent promoters, “unforeseen circumstances” and big surprise hits (what odds a Garth Brooks’ Irish tour a la Springsteen in 2014?) and you’ve all the makings of another busy year. Never a dull moment on the live music beat…