Last weekend saw the third annual festival of Music and Food take place in Westport, Co. Mayo. This is a two day boutique family friendly entertainment extravaganza, set amidst the picturesque 400-acre grounds of Westport House. The historic house and estate is located in the heart of one of Ireland’s most charming seaside towns, which is renowned for its music, excellent food, great pubs and a very warm welcome. Now in it’s third year, the event proved to be a fantastic fun filled, hassle free, weekend of entertainment, music, comedy, kids activities, delicious food, camping, beer tents and wine bars, in a truly relaxed, friendly and chilled out atmosphere.
Having never been to Westport, I was really looking forward to my visit and most especially to the festival. I wasn’t disappointed in either. I found the town to be filled with extremely friendly people and lovely sights. I popped out to Croak Patrick and enjoyed the view. I didn’t mange to make the climb, but it shall be done!!
I was very fortunate to have a media pass for the weekend. This enabled me to enjoy the festival in every way. I was able to meet the stars, take some very special photos, mix with with crowd, enjoy the hospitality area, and sample the food in the ‘food village’ and at all the stalls. I wasn’t disappointed with any area.
On Saturday I chatted to Shane Filan. I didn’t realise that this was his first solo performance at a festival. He gave a memorable show. I managed to catch the Neil Hannon interview in the Radio 1 tent, which was ‘divine’! I was blown away with the performance by 2CELLOS, and thoroughly enjoyed David Gray. The comedy stage was outstanding and the DJ stage was heaving! The sun was shining and all was picture perfect.
Sunday saw the amazing performance by Sophie Ellis-Bexter. Sinead O’Connor wooed the crowd with her ‘Nothing Compares to U’. A
classic that will never date! The Clew Bay Pipe Band blew everyone away. Kool and the Gang brought the best of the ’80’s to life. On other stages, Little Green Cars, BellX1, Bjorn Again, Mundy and many many more brought music alive in Westport.
At approximately 9.40pm Bryan Adams took to the Westport main stage. An avid fan for 25 years, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Adams rocked Westport to the core. A solid two hours of hits followed. Whether you were a fan or not, you couldn’t but enjoy his set. The town was alive with such hits as ‘Run to You’, ‘Summer of ’69’, ’18 till I die’ and so much more. Bryan Adams clearly enjoyed the show and thanked Westport for having him. A memorable night was certainly had.
Over the two days I managed to visit every corner of the festival. I met people from all over the country and further afield. At no time did I experience any trouble or even an indication of such. It was a delight to watch young and old alike enjoy a variety of entertainment. Young children were playing football. Older people were sitting in chairs and on the ground soaking up the music and atmosphere. Others like myself danced the weekend away.
Food, drink and toilet facilities were second to none. Queues were certainly formed at the different facilities but these were short lived and reduced in very little time. Volunteers were walking around in all areas and ready and willing to help everyone. Staff were friendly and helpful. Security was tight and yet very friendly. Everything about the organisation and running of this weekend was spectacular.
I was very disappointed to read yesterday (Friday) in the Mayo News that there is NO guarantee of the festival being held next year. I hope the coming days and weeks brings better news. This is a festival worth developing and securing for future years. It is a festival which accommodates everyone. On-site camping is available, hotels and guest houses are plentiful. And if these are all booked, there is Sligo to Galway to consider as ‘stop overs’ for the weekend. Westport is just a short drive (couple of hours) from both. As for value for money, this is exceptional. I’ve paid €100+ a few years ago to see AC/DC at Punchestown. They were amazing. BUT, getting there and getting back was horrific. And the show lasted just two hours. Westport Festival lasted two DAYS. At just €150 for the weekend, it was extremely good value for money. Whatever your plans are for next summer, if Westport Festival of Music and Food is happening, it is well worth checking out. I certainly will be. As Bryan Adams said, ‘Thank you Westport. You’ve been great.’ I’ll second that!