CastlePalooza attracts a fairly mixed but predominantly older crowd, with the majority of the audience being in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. CastlePalooza is something of a hippie-magnet so come prepared to rub shoulders with quite “alternative” fellow festival-goers.
This tiny festival is held in Charleville Castle – and I mean in Charleville Castle (which, by the way, is scientifically proven to be haunted). The Rainforest Spa and artsy events and workshops are held in the castle’s drawing rooms. Outside, there are only two stages: the Metro Main Stage and the HMV GetCloser Stage. These are both located in the picturesque grounds surrounding the stately home, as are the campsites.
This year tickets to the festival were reasonably priced at €95, while a non-camping ticket was €55 which were not bad considering the range of eclectic activities on offer. The facilities (despite technical hiccups) were definitely superior to those at bigger events. However, security forbade alcohol from passing through the entrance: bags were searched, booze was confiscated and campers were forced to squeeze pennies for drink at the festival bars.
Only 2500 tickets go on sale for this pocket-sized fete. Thus an intimate, homely atmosphere is created, making it easy to get chatting to newly made friends. In fact, the festival is so tiny that you begin to recognise fellow punters after a few hours of being there. Then, after a few, you forget them again.
Don’t expect any big names to headline. If you have an interest in the alternative Irish music scene you’ll recognise a good few artists on the lineup. This year featured Super Extra Bonus Party, David Kitt and Le Galaxie. Even if you’re not a music nerd, this festival is worth a visit as you’re bound to come across some act that takes your fancy. A gold star has to be given to the excellent DJ sets in the HMV GetCloser tent, which is the perfect place for a rave (especially when it’s raining outside).
Every year CastlePalooza makes a point of advertising the availability of “flushing toilets”, “hot showers” and “drinking water taps”. But as the festival began to fill up with people, the well-water was exhausted and the promised facilities ground to a halt.
Although this festival is on the microscopic side, there were a few stalls selling funky festival clothes- because Stetson hats, sparkly sunglasses and technicolour Cleopatra wigs are essential on a rainy camping weekend to Offaly.
CastlePalooza calls itself a music and arts festival with good reason. Inside the castle, hula-hoop, bellydance, burlesque, and bollywood classes could be attended free of charge. An arts and crafts corner and a makeshift photography studio were also in full swing, making the festival a little less monotonous.
This one may be a little too pretentious for some, and €95 is a lot to ask if the bands on the line-up are entirely unfamiliar. The key lies in abandoning cynicism (just for the weekend mind). The general idea is to throw yourself into silly workshops and classes, while pretending to make an effort to enjoy bands and DJs you’ve never even heard of, no matter how average they sound.
In other words: Unleash your inner hippy and let the peace and love guide you.