It may have been a big ask for Ireland to stage two massive festivals in one year (The Gathering Ireland 2013 and Derry-Londonderry’s year as UK City of Culture) but this little island knocked it out of the park. And guess what: it looks like 2014 could be even better.
But before we dive into next year, here’s a taster of what went down in 2013.
The Gathering Ireland 2013 started with a procession of light and rocking Dublin city centre silly (it will end the same way, in fact. If you’d like to see it for yourself, this competition could be your ticket) and it just got bigger and bigger. And bigger…
Along its way we saw people doodle on Trinity College (ok, not literally); visitors from around the world took part in the St Patrick’s Day People’s Parade; we watched redheads assemble proudly in Cork; FlightFest saw airborne monsters whizz over Dublin’s River Liffey; and lighthouse keepers from all corners picked a particularly pretty place to party in Wexford.
Rock ‘n roll, oysters and ancestors
In Donegal rockers remembered guitar hero, Rory Gallagher; Galway and Louth kept us fed with the finest oysters; and at Riverdance: The Gathering thousands of toe-tapping dancers broke a world record.
In summary, the Gathering Ireland 2013 was a rollercoaster. And we’re still gathering. We’re gathering old friends, new friends and friends we haven’t met yet to our NYE Concert in Dublin city to welcome what looks like being a fabulous 2014. Sound like fun? It is. And this special offer makes it a bargain, too.
A culture year
Other Voices at Derry-Londonderry
The Gathering Ireland wasn’t the only show in town in 2013. In that whimsical walled city we know as Derry-Londonderry, one of Europe’s biggest arty parties was getting its very own groove on: the UK City of Culture.
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And if you thought this was only for professional culture vultures, you’d be wrong.
Here was a festival calendar fit to bust with the delicate and intimate Other Voices gigs, traditional music’s pinnacle of competitive fervour, the Fleadh Cheoil, and a rock musical based on the music of The Undertones.
“Oh Danny boy…”
Never short of a smile, the walled city also brought us a Big Tickle Comedy Festival and showed us the light courtesy of Lumiere’s whimsical installations. If you’ve ever sung ‘Danny Boy’ in the shower, you owe its lyrical loveliness to Derry-Londonderry. The city celebrated the song’s 100th birthday with a mass performance designed to give you goosebumps.
As a key player in the experience, Derry-Londonderry local Joe Carlin was centre stage for the year’s role as the UK City of Culture. He liked what he saw:
"2013 has been a truly amazing year for the city and everyone in it. With head-turning events like BBC Radio One's Big Weekend and the Fleadh, there was a real buzz in the air. We've always had a reputation as being able to throw a good party, now we've proved it!"
2014: Bring it on
If you’re thinking “Did they save a bit of craic or any of those warm welcomes for 2014?” don’t worry. We’ve got lots more where that came from.
Hands in the air at the TradFest Super Céilí
Limerick will step up as Ireland’s first City of Culture (all year) with fashion, theatre, food and dancing on a mixed but memorable menu. In the cobbled and cosy Temple Bar, TradFest (Dublin, Jan) aims to get even the most reluctant toes tapping; while in the same city the Six Nations Rugby Championship (Dublin, Feb-Mar) brings heaves, lineouts and the odd try to the Aviva Stadium. On that sporty theme, The Giro d’Italia (Belfast, Armagh, Dublin – May) is coming to these shores for the first time, and if that doesn’t make you smile the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival (Kilkenny, June) will.
Dockside, The Clipper Around the World Yacht Race (Derry-Londonderry city, July) will be making the walled city its home and partying at the same time, before Dublin Festival Season (Sep-Oct) brings a dizzying collection of festivals to the literary city. In Van Morrison’s hometown, Belfast Music Week takes us singing into Winter (Nov) and, before you know it, we’re all the way back around to the NYE Festival in 2014.
So, could 2014 trump the last twelve months for full-on fun, epic festivals, friendly faces and classic craic?
To answer that you’ll have to visit us to find out now, won’t you?