That's right, 23,000 traditional music fans can’t be wrong - that’s the number that will attend TradFest 2017 between 25-29 January.
The goal of this annual festival is to spread the love of Irish music by bringing the best folk and trad artists in the world to a range of venues across Dublin's oft-maligned Temple Bar district.
“It’s Dublin’s largest folk trad festival,” says Martin Harte,TradFest organiser and CEO of The Temple Bar Company. “It has all the different types of trad and folk and a little bit of everything for everyone. From the toddlers and children in The Ark, right up to the 95-year-old with the céilí bands and the choirs; it’s a huge spectrum of events covering all genres.
“One of the different things about TradFest is the wide variety of venues; we have St Michan’s Church, St Werburgh’s Church, St Patrick’s Cathedral, the House of Lords, the Irish Writers Centre, Dublin City Hall, Dublin City Council, it’s a whole array of heritage centres across the city.”
The line-up is, of course, the thing anyone is going to look at when eyeing up a festival and it’s little wonder that TradFest is pulling in the crowds with the likes of Afro Celt Sound System, Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, Donal Lunny, Fairport Convention, Goats Don’t Shave, Crannua, Maria McKee, Paddy Casey and Mundy, The Rails, Sharon Shannon, The Fureys and Turin Brakes all on the bill.
“Billy Bragg is sold out, Donal Lunny is sold out, Afro Celt Sound System is close to selling out,” says Harte. “The interest is huge. We’ve sold out 18 concerts so far out of 43.
“We’ve also got our front-row sessions, which are professionally produced concerts in pubs but they’re free. You can go and see the likes of Sharon Shannon or The Dublin Legends; we’ve made 5,000 of these tickets available for free.”
The festival itself is not-for-profit – the only one of its kind in Ireland - and not connected to any of the major concert promoters, in order to keep prices low; starting out as a niche event that had 500 attendees, this year’s event will have close to 50 times that amount manning the crowds.
Part of the attraction is that the festival runs out of season in January, which fills a key spot in an often low-season culture wise. The attraction is not limited to just Irish trad fans either, with 35% of the festivalgoers from overseas.
“The UK will be the top market, followed by the US, followed by Northern Europe: Norwegians, Swedish, Dutch and Germans are crazy for TradFest. Their interest is phenomenal,” adds Harte. “The US market has also doubled in the last few years or so.”
“The first goal of the festival is to increase the number of overseas visitors into Temple Bar in January,” continues Harte. “The second goal is to bring people into Temple Bar that may not otherwise come into the area. And thirdly we want to promote and highlight traditional folk music as a major cultural offering within the capital.”
To find out more, visit the TradFest website.