Updated: Irish summer music festivals 2018 - your one-stop guide

Updated / Monday, 12 Feb 2018 12:20

Jenny Greene and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra - returning to the festival fray this summer

Now that the Christmas chaos has been firmly placed back in its box for the next 10 months or so, and spring has sprung, it's not too early to start planning what you're doing this summer.

For Irish music fans, that means breaking out the red pen and furiously circling dates in the calendar – and this summer, you're positively spoiled for choice. Alongside the old reliables like Electric Picnic and the Iveagh Gardens gigs, 2018 sees numerous new additions to the live music calendar that'll inevitably drain your piggybank over the summer, but nevertheless leave you a very happy music-consuming bunny.

Below, we take a look at some of the festivals and gigs worth noting over the summer months – and what to expect from the new kids on the block. Our advice? Book early.

THE MEGA-GIGS

You know the mega-gigs: they're the ones that attract tens of thousands of music fans and casual daytrippers alike, usually held in a stadium, park or big field. Some of this year's contenders include Ed Sheeran's Irish tour in May, which takes in Cork's Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Galway's Pearse Stadium, Belfast's Boucher Road and Dublin's Phoenix Park.

Acts lined up for Croke Park include Taylor Swift (June 15th and 16th) and Michael Buble (July 7th), while Billy Joel will play the Aviva Stadium on June 23rd. Bruno Mars will play Marlay Park on July 12th, while LCD Soundsystem (June 5th), Kodaline (June 8th), Gorillaz (June 9th), Liam Gallagher (June 15th) and Chic (June 16th) will headline Malahide Castle after its return to action as a venue last year.

LIFE FESTIVAL

Festival season kicks off proper – albeit for a select group of music fans, mostly into their electronica – with Life Festival, which runs from May 25th - 27th at Ballinlough Castle in Westmeath. This year's entertainment includes Fatboy Slim, Armand Van Helden, Jeff Mills, Adam Beyer and more.

FORBIDDEN FRUIT/NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS

For those unwilling to travel to the midlands for their electronic music fix, Forbidden Fruit has plenty to offer in the grounds of Dublin's Royal Hospital, Kilmainham from June 2nd – 4th. The Saturday and Sunday line-up sees the likes of Justice, Richie Hawtin, Bonobo and FourTet; Monday's programme takes a more indie/rock slant, with The War on Drugs, Grizzly Bear, Spoon and Warpaint on the bill. Two days later, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds will play the same venue on June 6th, with support from Patti Smith.

DONNYBROOK STADIUM GIGS

The home of Leinster Rugby is being commandeered by musos for six days this summer – during which four gigs will take place at the Dublin 4 stadium. The National roll into town on June 15th and 16th with a different supporting line-up for each day; the 15th will see them joined by Lisa Hannigan and Jay Som, while Villagers, Aldous Harding and former Vampire Weekend member Rostam will open on the 16th. Future Islands will then headline their own show on June 17th, and the RTE Concert Orchestra with 2FM's Jenny Greene will reprise their hugely successful collaboration on June 21st.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

Before the full soggy-ponchoed, warm-beered festival season blooms, this brand new little shindig in Cork could be a nice way to ease yourself in. Taking place in Trabolgan Holiday Village from April 13th – 15th, it has a bit of an ATP vibe going on – and a suitably eclectic line-up, to boot. How about Young Fathers, Andrew Weatherall, Fujiya & Miyagi and trad/folk heroes Martin Hayes & Steve Cooney for starters? Add in a flurry of excellent Irish acts – from Brian Deady to Bantum to Lankum – and this could be the start of something very special, indeed.

SUMMER IN THE CITY

One of the aforementioned new additions to the fray, Summer in the City is a two-day open air event held at the RDS in Dublin. On Saturday, June 23rd, high-flying Irish pop band Picture This headline, with support from Clean Bandit, JP Cooper and Walking on Cars. On Sunday, June 24th, EDM duo The Chainsmokers headline, with support from Rita Ora.

SEA SESSIONS

Celebrating its 10th birthday in 2018, Donegal's Sea Sessions promises to be a big weekend when the surf 'n' music event rolls into Bundoran from June 22nd – 24th. This year's headliners include grime pioneer Dizzee Rascal and Dingle's writers-of-anthemic-indie-songs Walking on Cars, alongside the likes of Rudimental, Roots Manuva and homegrown heroes Le Galaxie and Stomptown Brass.

BODY & SOUL

The small-but-perfectly-formed Body and Soul will return to the grounds of Ballinlough Castle from June 22nd – 24th. This year's event will be headlined by Swedish electronic goddess Fever Ray, AKA The Knife's Karin Dreije, who'll also be curating the Friday night bill. Elsewhere, expect the usual melange of offbeat Irish and international acts from the folk, indie and electronic scenes – as well as some downright inspiring art installations dotted around the site.

LONGITUDE

Depending upon who you're chatting to - or, to be more specific, how old they are - this year's line-up for the Marley Park bash - running Friday July 13th to Sunday July 15th - is either (a) total genius or (b) a total head-scratcher. That said, if you're a fan of cutting edge hip-hop and r'n'b, it's the live event of the year, with a bill that includes Beyonce's baby sister Solange, Travis Scott, J. Cole and Diplo alongside the likes of Migos, Tyler, The Creator, Sampha and Anderson Paak. There are more than enough boys with guitars to be found elsewhere this summer - we like a festival that isn't afraid to take a punt, and mix it up a little. 

IVEAGH GARDENS

If you still haven't made it to a gig at Dublin's Iveagh Gardens, make it your business to do so this year. The eclectic line-up will help on that front; don your flannel and docs for Alanis Morissette on July 5th or your fake beard and shades for Eels (July 6th). Other names confirmed so far include enigmatic post-punk heroes The The (July 7th), Mullingar's finest The Academic playing their biggest headline show to date (July 20th) and rock stalwarts Aslan celebrating the 30th anniversary of their debut album Feel No Shame on July 21st.

BEATYARD

A marquee beside the pier in Dun Laoghaire is hardly the place you'd expect to see some genre-defining artists strut their stuff – but Beatyard has consistently come up trumps on that front over the last few years. This year's festival runs in the seaside town from August 4th and 5th, and will see Orbital, Kamasi Washington, Little Dragon, Modeselektor, John Talabot, The Sugarhill Gang, The Skatalites and many more vying for your hard-earned shekels. Also: They just added The Jacksons to the bill! 

INDIEPENDENCE & CASTLEPALOOZA

As always, there's almost too much choice on the August Bank Holiday weekend and 2018 is no different. Indiependence returns to Mitchelstown, Co. Cork from August 3rd - 5th with a line-up that includes Walking on Cars, Jake Bugg, Everything Everything, Sigala and more. Co. Offaly's Castlepalooza runs on the same dates and takes a more Irish slant, with All Tvvins, New Jackson and Super Extra Bonus Party (remember them?) joining US act !!! (AKA Chk Chk Chk) and Dutch duo Detroit Swindle, amongst others.

ALL TOGETHER NOW

This one could prove to be very interesting indeed. With many old school Electric Picnickers complaining that the festival has become a) too big b) too young or c) too mainstream for their liking, they might want to point their radar towards ATN, a brand new three-day event being staged by POD, the founders of Electric Picnic. Nothing is known thus far, apart from the dates (August 3rd - 5th) and a location (Curraghmore House in Portlaw, Co. Waterford) – but it looks like a potentially very tasty alternative.

ELECTRIC PICNIC

The Big One is returning for its 15th year from August 31st – September 2nd, although the line-up has yet to be announced. Who could be contenders? Expect a 'heritage act' or two thrown into the mix, along with a mainstream pop act (Lorde?) as Sunday headliners. Arctic Monkeys have just announced a glut of European festival dates, so don't rule them out – as has Bjork, who has played the festival several times before, while Snow Patrol are on the comeback trail and would be an ideal fit... but that's pure speculation, for now. The line-up is usually announced around the start/middle of March, so watch this space.