NI holds first music festival in more than 18 months

An audience of 2,000 people witnessed the first music festival to take place in Northern Ireland in almost 18 months at the weekend.

Sasha Samara on stage at the Stendhal music festival. Photo by Ciara McMullan
Sasha Samara on stage at the Stendhal music festival. Photo by Ciara McMullan

Stendhal Festival returned for the first time since 2019 at Ballymully Cottage Farm in Limavady, watering the first green shoots of recovery for the Northern Irish music industry with over 60 acts performing across five socially distanced stages.

Organisers said that the attendance was around 20% of that of the last Stendhal Event in 2019 but the atmosphere generated was quite unlike anything experienced on site before.

Festival director Ross Parkhill said: “We’ve had some amazing events on this farm going back to 2011, but this one will always stand out and will always probably be our most important event ever.

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    Social distancing at the Stevie Martin Stage. Photo by Ciara McMullan

    “When I heard that first guitar ring through the air on Friday afternoon I got goose bumps. It was so amazing to actually be back and putting on a show.”

    Ross added: “I know it was really special for the performers too, they have waited a long time to have the opportunity to get back to doing what they do best and you could see it in their faces and hear it in their performances that this really was a special moment for them.”

    Ross aid tribute to the team for being able to put the show on with just one weeks’ notice: “It was a massive effort from everyone this past week to not only get the site built but to run the event on just a weeks notice. We have an amazing team up here but they really did go above and beyond this year and everyone should be incredibly proud of what we have achieved here.”

    At the beginning of June the organisers of Stendhal Festival welcomed 250 invited guests to Ballymully Cottage Farm for the first live outdoor concert in more than a year.

    Due to the reduced capacity, Stendhal Festival, which which is supported by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Help Musicians NI, will also be running another event in the middle of August.

    Ross said: “We are hoping that we will welcome 5,000 people to that because we still have a way to go ourselves in terms of financial recovery from Covid.”


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