Ireland's oldest, most spectacular and hottest festival will once again ignite the summer festival season when it is rekindled on the historic Hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath on Bealtaine, Saturday May 5th. Think Burning Man meets Braveheart and you‟re nearly there. Festival of Fires will set the ancient seat of the High Kings alight with the very best in arts, culture, ceremony, history and heritage, crafts, debate, artisan food and drink, ancient Celtic sports, re-enactments, rituals and music.
Uisneach – located at the exact centre of Ireland – will be illuminated with pageantry and parades, with all festival-goers participants in a unique Bealtaine fire ceremony featuring a dazzling night-time parade devised by the award-winning LUXe performance group. We will have breath-taking fire displays featuring some of the best artists and performance groups from Burning Man and Glastonbury.
The award-winning Uisneach Warriors – hundreds of Celtic horsemen and women – are returning in greater numbers. Music, spoken word and theatre space, a heritage and history stage, clans area, arts trail, historical tours, food and drink villages, children‟s play areas, shamanic workshops, drum circles, creative workshops and more make this a truly unique event. Re-enactments, ceremonies, a holistic village, a medieval village, ancient Celtic sports and traditional craft workshops and more also hark back to the festival's ancient roots. Close your eyes for a minute and you'll be transported back to ancient times.
Six music stages will feature a dazzling array of acts, including Ireland‟s hottest star BRESSIE, playing his biggest ever solo show in his hometown and his only festival date this summer. His ex-bandmates in the Blizzards are also performing and Bressie has promised to bring some special guests with him from „The Voice‟. True High Kings of music coming to the ancient seat of the High Kings include HOTHOUSE FLOWERS, KÍLA and DONAL LUNNY. It is also the only festival where this year‟s Choice Music Prize winners (Ireland‟s top music prize) will play, with album of the year winner JAPE and song of the year winners ROYSEVEN both performing. Ireland‟s oldest known band, the KILFENORA CÉILÍ BAND will be making their first appearance at Ireland‟s oldest festival. HAWKWIND great Nik Turner will be bringing the legendary bands music to an Irish festival for the first time, cementing Uisneach‟s links to Stonehenge in the process.
Also playing is Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club, Horslipsgreat Johnny Fean, The Riptide Movement, Relish, Johnny Cronin & The Aftermath, Crow Black Chicken, The Pale, Peter Doran, Arrow in the Sky, Icon on Fire (featuring Graham Dowling from The Voice‟), Touch The Earth, Jimmy Broder, Rainy Boy Sleep, Neon Wolf, Casey Leigh, Preachers Son, Late Late Show bandleader Paddy Cullivan, The Hot Sprockets, Sircles (ex-The Blizzards), The Raglans, Propeller Palms, The Bahh Band, Mikey & The Scallywags, Fling, Valerie Armstrong, The Egg & Spoons, Magdelene, The Poetry Divas, Marty Mulligan, Fia Rua, Gavin James, Queen Elvis, Cathryn Green, Shadowplay, Aquileia, Amber Jean, Noel & Declan O‟Farrell, the DG Kelly Orchestra and the most decorated marching band in Ireland, The Mullingar Town Band! Many more will be announced in the coming weeks.
With a history stretching back thousands of years, the one-of-a-kind event culminates with an unmissable night-time ceremonial parade which will lead all festival goers to the summit of Uisneach where signal Bealtaine fires will be lit. In turn, over 100 fires will be sparked nationwide as the flame is passed to all 21 counties visible from the summit.
Located at the exact centre of Ireland close to Mullingar and Athlone, Uisneach was the original seat of the High Kings and Ireland's capital city long before Tara. It is the birth and resting place of the Goddess Ériu after whom Ireland was named, and it is a historic location which attracted everyone from St. Patrick to James Joyce to Michael Jackson.
Festival of the Fires is proudly independent, sponsor-free and non-commercial. It is a non VIP event, with no branding, VIP enclosures or anything else. Every festival goer is a participant in a one-of-a-kind event, which is for all the family with free admission for children under 12 as well as free campervan and car parking.
Brought back to life by Grouse Lodge Residential Recording Studios, the Bealtaine event was nominated seven times at the Irish Festival Awards 2011 and as Best Green Event at the Irish Event Industry Awards. The Irish Times called it “a source of hope” with TG4 describing it as “Ireland‟s answer to Burning Man”.