Forbidden Fruit day one: The highlight they couldn’t stop talking about? Mr Blue Sky

Thousands gather at the grounds of Royal Hospital Kilmainham for one of the first big festivals of the summer in Ireland

An inflatable church, a woman twerking over a wave of White Claw cans and €7.50 for a pint of Guinness: if the last two weeks of spectacular weather didn’t make it clear, summer has finally arrived on the streets of Dublin and with that comes coveted Forbidden Fruit music festival, the city’s largest.

On Saturday evening, the grounds of Royal Hospital Kilmainham, home of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, were transformed into a Frankenstein’s monster of party culture. Vintage 1990s and 2000s fashion was in, and between the floral shirts, glamorous shades and the inevitable sea of bandannas and bucket hats, there was some sort of order to it all.

As revellers arrived from 3pm or so, the Trinity Orchestra gave it their all on the main stage with covers of some hits from the 1980s. Between Talking Heads, the Smiths and a whole lot of the Cure, if it wasn’t for the other sets going on in the distance you’d be forgiven for mistaking Forbidden Fruit for a faux new wave revival fest. But the highlight everyone couldn’t stop talking about? Mr Blue Sky.

“The weather is fantastic,” Victoria Meehan said, who was taking a break on a bench with some friends. “It’s the best we’ve had in years for Forbidden Fruit. I’ve been here a couple of years in a row – bar during Covid – this is the best weather I’ve ever encountered. I remember shuffling into a tent because it was so cold.”


Before the hot sun even began to set, the Lighthouse Stage was already plunged into strobe-filled darkness. Fades, mullets, pigtails and bows – this is the domain of the youth who didn’t come here for sunshine and selfies, but a deep and unending line-up of DJs. The dry ice and vape clouds blended together to become one, colouring the air as light bounced off the arrangement of disco balls about the place.

“It’s just good atmosphere and good vibes,” Peter Cullen said outside the tent. “Sunny weather, drink, good company.”

As a first music festival experience, in this writer’s case, the refreshing absence of muck and camping chaos offered a more than tolerable experience.

The act people were most looking forward to? Central Cee. The British rapper was headlining the main stage on Saturday, and few were quiet about their excitement.

For others, such as Sinéad Sullivan, Rina Sawayama is the one to watch. Up just before Centrel Cee, the Japanese and British singer was the main event (“She like the up-and-coming queen of pop bangers,” Sullivan said).

Aside from the music acts, the grounds were littered with the usual festival distractions frequent attendees have grown to be familiar with. An inflatable white and pink church had a DJ pumping out tunes like Mambo No. 5. The compulsory festival sight of a pasty white guy with his shirt off, already sporting sunburn, was not to be missed.

Jason King from Bray was happy not having to travel too far to get into bed. “It’s everyone coming together, you know what I mean? You have people from all over Ireland coming together to have a fun time, that’s probably the best thing about Forbidden Fruit.”

Conor Capplis

Conor Capplis

Conor Capplis is a journalist with the Irish Times Group