Before you even consider the January blues, get yourself a ticket to Dublin’s Tradfest (22-27 January) and let the toe-tapping fun begin
What better way to survive the Christmas come-down than a festival with a six-day schedule promising over 200 free events and performances by some of the best known faces (and voices) in traditional music?
Hosting the Tradfest is no other than Dublin city’s cultural quarter, creative hub, and nightlife hotspot – Temple Bar. Any Dubliner (or tourist) worth their salt knows that if you want a good time, you go to Temple Bar. The cobbled streets lined with galleries, indie theatres and throbbing pubs are always thronged with visitors and long-lunching locals.
Combining cosy pub sessions with outdoor concerts, street performers with pipe bands, and film screenings with storytelling, the Temple Bar TradFest 2013 promises an Irish music and culture extravaganza. Two-time winner of the Best Traditional Music Festival award, TradFest is “a window for Irish culture” according to Moya Brennan of Clannad.
This year’s line up sees a mixture of prominent musicians such as Sharon Shannon and Brian Conway along with lesser known acts getting the opportunity to share their music at the IMRO Showcase. There will even be a European Music night to celebrate Ireland’s EU presidency in 2013.
A musical Gathering
To mark the start of The Gathering 2013, TradFest will bring together some of the most progressive and influential traditional groups of the past fifteen years. The line up for this once-off musical celebration will include Karen Kasey, Donal O’ Connor, John Spillane, John Mc Sherry, Lumiere, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and Donogh Hennessy. Performing both separately and together this will be a rare treat for trad fans.
Listen to the masters
If you aren’t content to simply let the music waft over you then book yourself into a masterclass where pros like John Spillane and Charlie Lennon will impart the secrets of musical success. The Music Trail offers a roadmap through free festival performances. Bring your own instrument and keep an eye out for the open sessions. If you can carry a tune, drop into the Singers Club and add your voice.
The support acts throughout the festival will undoubtedly be the venues, some of which are centuries old and add a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to an evening. Ones to watch are Dublin’s neoclassical 18th century City Hall hosting an intimate recital with fiddler Brian Conway. Sharon Shannon celebrates her 21st anniversary in St Patrick’s Cathedral; the hauntingly beautiful Christ Church Cathedral will echo with the voice of songstress Maura O’Connell, while the historic St Werburgh Church, founded in 1178, opens it doors for The West Ocean String Quartet.
Nail the lingo
To look and sound like you belong, pick up one or two phrases that will define you as an experienced hand. The musican in this video assures us that nobody calls trad music ‘folk’ or ‘Irish’ music – just trad will do.
And while Tradfest dances on around you, don’t forget you’re in the city’s cultural hub. Keep an eye out for the open air markets; the Irish Film Institute, the National Photographic Archive and The Gallery of Photography.
And of course the many many shops (Siopaella recycles pre-loved clothing while supporting Irish design), restaurants (Gallagher’s Boxty House are running cooking classes), theatres (you’ll find the New Theatre in the back of The Connolly Bookshop), pubs (The Temple Bar is a natural choice) and cafes (you can’t miss Café Irie’s bright pink facade) where you can rest those toes after a long day of tapping.