Meet the festival FACES that make your summer happen

Summer in Ireland is festival season. Liz O’Brien picks some of the nation’s favourites — and reveals the people who work long and hard behind the scenes to make your summer happen.

Meet the festival FACES that make your summer happen

Avril Stanley

Festival director

Body & Soul

Avril Stanley, festival director of Body & Soul, was inspired by the Burning Man event in the Nevada desert.

FOR years Avril Stanley felt like she didn’t fit in the working world. She had travelled the globe, trained as psychotherapist and shiatsu therapist, obtained degrees in French and Italian, but something was always missing.

Until, Burning Man. It’s a festival that sees people from all walks of life descend on the Nevada Desert each year, to create a pop-up city that celebrates community spirit, art, self-expression and self-reliance. After a week, they depart, leaving no trace.

“It was a moment in time on a makeshift dance floor in the Nevada Desert that it all fell into place for me and I realised this is what I need to do,” Stanley says. “You go there to breathe art, to experience a world you never imagined, to celebrate, and when you leave it you leave somewhat different to when you came.”

And so, what she calls her ‘vocation’ began.

“There are days when I feel overwhelmed and unsure I have what it takes to keep going — but deep down I feel blessed to be part of an incredible team of like-minded, passionate people, who pour everything into making the festival the best it can be.”

A celebration of the summer solstice, there’s no other festival in Ireland quite like B&S.

Set in a 300-year-old estate — Ballinlough, Co Westmeath — with a 15-century walled garden, woodlands and lake-side, it’s the kind of festival that has on-site holistic therapists, yoga workshops, dance classes, gourmet food and children’s activities.

You can even rent a swimsuit to relax in a wood-fired hot tub under a canopy of trees.

It’s a place where like-minded people can discover new music, interact with visual and performance art outside of a traditional setting and lose themselves.

“It appeals as much to fans of electronic music as to nature lovers, to families with young kids as to the 30-somethings that like the finer things in life.”

A smaller version of Body & Soul began at Ireland’s own Electric Picnic and the UK’s Big Chill. But this year it celebrates its fifth year as an independent festival and 8,000 people are coming to the party.

GoldFrapp, Caribou, John Grant, Gary Numan, Darkside and Jon Hopkins are included in the line-up.

There’s an open-air masquerade ball, two main stages and eight smaller venues to showcase comedy, poetry, barber-shop quartets, disco, fireside sessions, orchestral symphonies, reggae and roots and the odd céilí.

More at

Molly Hutchinson

Event co-ordinator

Taste of Dublin

Molly Hutchinson, event coordinator and account manager for Taste of Dublin 2014 in a Podology Garden Pod. Podology will be on site for the Taste of Dublin 2014 festival. Picture: Maura Hickey.

WHEN Molly Hutchinson was debating a move overseas, she knew only one thing could keep her on Irish soil — a gig at ‘Taste of Dublin’.

Her luck was in; she bagged a job and decided to stay.

At just 24 years of age, the self-professed foodie is Taste of Dublin’s event coordinator and one of its account managers.

Located in the capital’s Iveagh Gardens, it’s the city’s biggest restaurant festival, offering a fusion of artisan food, drink, culinary activism and entertainment.

It’s where from June 12-15, top chefs Darina and Rachel Allen, Lynda Booth, Edward Hayden, plus Jonray and Peter Sanchez will showcase their skills and share trade tips during live cooking demos. And it’s where aspiring cooks can take watch seafood, barbecuing and dessert masterclasses.

“At Taste of Dublin it is important to marry a mix of new exciting features with home grown Irish chefs and restaurants and recognised international chefs that visitors want to see,” Hutchinson says.

“This year we have been really successful with the festival line-up, we have chefs including Monica Galetti, Tom Kitchin, Simon Halstone, Ross Lewis, Kevin Dundon, Darina Allen and Kevin Thornton to name but a few.

“Electrolux, our title sponsor, lends huge support to the event and designs state-of-the-art feature and demonstration zones that chefs want to be involved with.”

Taste is a global brand, with festivals in 23 countries — so as far as food festivals go, it’s the one of the world’s biggest.

“With such a strong line-up each year, to me it’s like a gastronomic mini Glastonbury,” Hutchinson says.

“My favourite part of the festival is the atmosphere — when you mix good quality food, leading chefs, exciting entertainment, all set to an al-fresco backdrop, nothing can beat it.”

About 32,000 people are expected at the upcoming event, which is in its eighth year.

More than 100 exhibitors, including O’Brien’s Wines, Aldi, Propercorn and Aunty Nellies Sweet Shop, have jumped on board, as have 16 restaurants specialising in cuisine such as Thai, Brazilian, Indian, French and Vietnamese. New to this year’s line-up is food photography.

And the theme, Food For Thought, will encourage visitors to think about where their food comes from, what they buy and how they eat.

A family fun day will run on two of the event’s four-day schedule, plus there’ll be live music, a silent disco and Brazilian quarter to celebrate the World Cup.

Find out more at

Emma Hannon

Programme manager

Dublin Fringe Festival

Emma Hannon, programme manager at the Dublin Fringe Festival, likens it to a creative volcano. Picture: Maura Hickey.

EMMA Hannon likens the Dublin Fringe Festival to a creative volcano that erupts in Temple Bar and spills through the city during September.

Fringe allows artists to innovate, to cross disciplines and to find new ways and places to create.

“With more than 600 events taking place in 40-plus venues, the festival showcases the best new, emerging, cutting-edge and radical work from Irish artists, alongside the most hot international contemporary theatre, comedy, performance, music, dance, circus and lots of other events,” Hannon says.

Fringe is the perfect fit for Hannon, who is also a creative person. Year-round, the 32-year-old manages FRINGE LAB, which provides practical and artistic support to hundreds of artists. The Kildare native, who has been with the Fringe for three years, also evaluates submissions and selects artists’ work to create the festival programme.

“We’re continually blown away by the quality of the submissions we receive — it’s an extremely competitive context,” she says.

“This year marks our 20th festival and we have some incredibly exciting work that we’re very proud to be presenting.”

Fringe aims to respond to whatever’s happening not only in Dublin city, but in Ireland.

“Work that explores contemporary issues, that talks politics, and looks at who we are in the world will continue to be at the forefront of what we present.

“This year, we’re also going to make a foray into presenting work experientially — we opened a new call-out to artists working in the surreal, the sensual, the fantastical, the far-out and the psychedelic. We can’t wait to see what will unfold,” she says.

Held in theatres, galleries, shops, cafes and streets throughout the capital, Fringe is Ireland’s most exciting multi-disciplinary arts festival, says Hannon. And, it seems, patrons agree with her.

Since its inception (as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival) 20 years ago, patronage has grown from 12,000 to between 35,000 and 500,000 over the festival’s 16-day run.

Work from Fringe’s most recent programme has been awarded for ‘best production and best new play’, among others, at the Irish Times Theatre Awards and will be toured nationally and overseas.

People can get a taste of Fringe’s programme for this year (September 6-21) when new director, Kris Nelson launches, the festival in July.

* For more information, see

Roz Jellet

Event stylist

Electric Picnic

Roz Jellet is the creative stylist for Electric Picnic invents the zany themes and areas that the festival is renowned for. Picture: Maura Hickey.

ROZ Jellet is the face behind Electric Picnic’s quirky, funky and outrageous style. The mum-of-two dresses the picnic and invents the zany themes and areas that the Stradbally, Co Laois, festival is renowned for.

Jellet’s festival involvement is very much a family affair that started 11 years ago. Her husband Hugo runs the popular Salty Dog stage and brother-in-law Charles erects the festival’s tents.

Even her boys Arthur, 8, and Felix 6, get in on the action.

“The boys are with me quite a lot on site as I set up; they love it, running around, having great fun and that’s how they spend their summer,” Jellet says.

“They came to the festival last year and our boy Arthur was looking out the caravan window, from his bed, at a band playing on stage — it’s a good memory for him.”

Jellet has a background in architecture, textiles, ceramics and interior design. She set up a business — Emperor’s Robes — and sold fashion accessories, made from printed-velvet, to Brown Thomas and Rococo; but after starting a family she turned to styling and dressing.

And, when EP called for submissions to inject creativity in to the festival, her’s was successful.

“I came up with an idea and my husband, who’s also very busy anyway, said, ‘I’m not helping you with this!

“Then it was accepted and I thought, ‘Oh, no, what am I going to do?’

“And then he did come and help me,’ she laughed.

Jellet uses her 10-years-worth of stock — silks, fabrics, props — stored in her warehouse to make artistic installations, structures and hangings.

In its 11 years, EP has grown from 10,000 festival-goers to a 35,000-strong following. Earlier this year, Jellet called on that audience to submit creative concepts that could be used to extend Trailer Park; a Picnic area where caravans are transformed into ideas of what the world could be.

The ‘Make Your Own Art Caravan’ competition attracted 120 entries. Eight of those were chosen and awarded grants to bring their concepts to life ahead of the festival (August 29-31). Chosen ideas include a see-saw with a caravan on each end, the Flintstone cave, and upside-down Caravanoke.

“It’s really fun working on site, there’s amazing energy and creativity — it’s a huge buzz seeing your area work and I’m excited about seeing anyone coming to the competition.”

See for more information.

Shane Dunne

Founder/promoter/music booker


Shane Dunne, managing director, Indiependence says his top top picks at Indie2014 are Public Enemy, Hozier, Delorentos, White Lies and We Cut Corners. Picture Maura Hickey.

THINK of the biggest, and best, house party you’ve been at. Now, imagine it lasting for three days. That’s how Shane Dunne, 34, describes Mitchelstown’s Indiependence music festival in Cork.

Voted for awards such as, ‘best small festival in Europe’, Indie has become a fixture on Ireland’s festival calendar.

Public Enemy, David Holmes, Fun Loving Criminals and Hozier make this year’s bill, and Dunne expects a sell-out for the third, consecutive year.

“We’ve sold tickets already to people as far away as Singapore and Australia,” Dunne says.

“We sell a couple of hundred tickets every year in the UK and, weirdly, we sell 70 or 80 tickets every year in Germany — the Germans just seem to like the trip to Cork.”

Nine years ago, Dunne, a former microbiologist, and festival co-founders, Kieran Walsh, Mark Noonan, John Finn and Michael Maher resurrected Mitchelstown’s free music festival.

They had no idea how big it would become and, in 2009, Dunne quit his day-job to concentrate on Indie. He does everything, from booking bands and promotion to taxes and fire safety.

Held at Deer Farm, a 52-acre site, Indie has a 5,000-person capacity for each of its three days, from August 1-3. The festival’s economic worth is between €1 and 1.5m and, gradually, Mitchelstown has come to embrace Indie.

“We’ve heard stories afterwards, like a pub giving punters places to charge their phones, and one local DJ let seven lads into his house last year to have a shower — they’re great stories to hear, because it adds to the experience of people coming from the rest of the country to Mitchelstown,” Dunne says.

Despite a tight budget, Indie pulls the big names.

Months before each event, a wish-list is whittled down.

“It’s a case of who’s touring, who’s available, who’s not going to play Electric Picnic, Longitude or the bigger festivals. Maybe they played it this year, so they won’t play next year — you’re also looking at who’s brand new and who you think will be really hot in four or five months’ time,” he says.

The festival’s stand-out moment for Dunne — who is also The Coronas’ production manager — was when Editors played it in 2011. “They’re a band who’ve headlined hundred-thousand capacity festivals; to have them playing on the main stage in Mitchelstown, for us, was amazing,” he says. Dunne’s top picks at Indie2014 are Public Enemy, Hozier, Delorentos, White Lies and We Cut Corners.


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