Seventh annual Body & Soul arts and music festival begins

Weekender at Westmeath’s Ballinlough Castle includes hundreds of acts on 14 stages


Body & Soul kicked off tonight in the grounds of Ballinlough Castle in Co Westmeath as festival-goers set up camp for the three-day arts and music festival.

This year the festival includes hundreds of acts across 14 stages, as well as varied delights such as late-night discos in the woodlands, an art trail, steaming hot tubs and seaweed baths.

The festival is in its seventh year and has upped capacity to 15,000 for 2016, a big jump from last year’s 10,000. There were a number of hiccups in terms of bus capacities, with massive queues for both tickets and boarding.

A Bus Éireann steward said the buses were under pressure as they had only prepared for last year’s numbers.

Tents up, cans out

However, the increased capacity didn’t seem to be a problem for the site itself. Queues stretched far back from the entrance across Friday afternoon, but good management meant people moved quickly through to get tents up and cans out.

A wet week in Westmeath meant the festival site was already muddy before anyone arrived, making wellies a necessity, despite the day’s dry weather.

One man in the queue hoping to break in his white Converse runners “because there’s nothing worse than bright white Converse” may have gotten more than he bargained for as he squelched through the woodlands.

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The weekend is forecast to offer a mixed bag of weather, though temperatures will remain in the high teens across the weekend.

Cloudy weather will dominate on Saturday with short periods of sun, though rain will start to come in overnight. Sunday morning will bring passing showers followed by periods of rain in the afternoon.

Friday night sees The Gloaming and Girl Band take to the main stage, while Bitch Falcon, Optimo and Ho99o9 play the Midnight Circus.

Surprise guest appearance

On Saturday, Hudson Mohawio, St Germain, Floating Points and Saint Sister will play, while Sunday brings a surprise guest appearance. Santigold closes the main stage for the weekend.

The line-up also includes a huge array of gastronomic delights, and the Food on Board area in particular keeps up the festival’s ethos of organic, fair trade food, with a focus on locally sourced, unprocessed ingredients.

The Happy Pear appear again this year, along with the Greenslate collaborative cafe, featuring 3FE coffee, Nobu and Sprout & Co.

Trucks and stalls are available to suit most tastes and all the obvious bases are covered.

At the Home Fries stall, one man was pleased with a typical night-out staple: garlic-and-cheese chips.

“You’ve made a young man’s day,” he told the stallholder. “I thought to myself, Body & Soul has everything; they had to have garlic and cheese fries.”

Buses in both directions between the festival and Custom House Quay in Dublin have been running since Friday morning and will continue over the weekend.

People travelling in cars over the weekend are encouraged to carpool if possible as part of the Travel Better policy.