I woke up this morning, a bit jaded from the late night post-show session but with the firm thought in my head that I’ve found my dream festival of all time, and that’s not the Guiness talking! A combination of great acts organised by a passionate trio in the amazing city of Belfast. If I’m honest, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience so far, it has gone well beyond my expectations!
I’m going to cover the acts I see as well as some of my experiences here in seperate posts. So to kick things off where better to start than my arrival…I actually arrived on day three of the festival as I couldn’t make it earlier which was a shame as I missed Mumford and Sons, Lissie and Andrew Davie (although I spent a good bit of yesterday afternoon drinking Guiness with the man!)
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board are, very kindly, organising my accomodation and they went all out in terms of making me feel very welcome. I’m staying at an amazingly cool hotel called Malmaison, referred to as Mal, which was created from two classically ornate Italianate warehouses designed by William Hastings in the mid-1850s.
There’s a lot of passion in this city. The hotel seems to be no exception, the manager runs a weekly farmers market in the large, lush and ornate lobby. The local food suppliers who provide the food for the restaurant attend and bring along their delectable bites for temptation along with a fiddle and banjo player.
The place has a cosy sophistication about it which is enhanced by the gothic design of the interior and the food is to die for! In typical Belfast fashion, as I’m finding out, they know how to make you feel at home.
For a first time visitor to Belfast and Open House Festival I had no idea what to expect. The festival is run by very three very passionate individuals: Kieran, Alison and Graham, who have an equally passionate team The festival is a not-for-profit organisation which adds to its whole down-to-earth feel. They run evening gigs and at the weekend, a two day chillifest from noon until 5:30pm followed by the evening acts. Their are several venues to spoil you and the main festival marquee is magical. It’s done out in thousands of fairy lights on a dark background which gives the impression you’re under a star lit sky which all the performers have so far commented on.
The beauty of having evening gigs is that you get time to tour around Belfast which has no shortage of attractions as well as some very tempting shops…you certainly can’t get bored here, that’s for sure! A lot of money appears to have been ploughed into Belfast which offers high-end retail stores in both modern and traditionally designed areas…as well as galleries and raft of great pubs…
After getting settled in I manged to hook up with a few folk including the talented Andrew Davie and the charming Sheena from The Ruckus music blog. After deliberating on what sights to check out we succumbed to the Guiness. Well, what did you expect?
There are still tickets available if you fancy joing us! Go ON! Click here for details.
Coming up: Review of Nathaniel Rateliff, The Low Anthem and Iron and Wine…plus a very special post show recorded session!
Upcoming: The Villager, The Moulettes, Captain Cameron, Matrimony, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dave Rawlings Machine (with Gillian Welch), plus the Communion Belfast Launch featuring the Lowly Knights – Ep Launch, Matthew & The Atlas, Marcus Foster and Pete Roe. Not forgetting more late night post show sessions from those artists above!
all photos copyright Folk Radio UK