World music festival takes off with Celtic flair

AROUND 50,000 people are expected to flock to Kerry this summer for a new seven-day international festival.

Headlining the inaugural World Fleadh will be acts like the Gipsy Kings from France, Carlos Nunez from Spain and La Bottine Souriante from Quebec, with Ireland represented by acts like Kila, Lunasa and Iarla O’Lionard, making it the biggest showcase for professional Celtic music artists in Ireland.

What the festival’s promoters hope will make it special is the outdoor venue overlooking Ballybunion beach planned for some of the bigger concerts.

The Atlantic Stage, as it’s being dubbed, will be a cliff-top enclosure where up to 10,000 people will be able to enjoy the music.

Ballybunions’ new €4 million Tinteán Theatre will also host concerts.

The theatre’s 550 seats will host master classes, céilís and other special events. There will also be a 1,500-seat marquee erected to host some of the 35 concerts on offer.

Festival founder Eric Cunningham of Empire Entertainments, said he had modelled the festival on similar events in Scotland, England and the US.

“The ethos of the festival will be to showcase not only the best of Irish music in its purist setting, but also to give a platform to the best-known innovators and contemporary style performers within the Irish music, song and dance traditions,” he said.

The festival is costing about €800,000 to €1m to stage, with the bulk of the funds to date coming from Ballybunion town and Fáilte Ireland.

Mr Cunningham said he hopes for Arts Council funding and for corporate sponsors to come on board with the balance of the funds.

Festival co-founder Michael Carr, CEO of North Kerry Arts and the promoter behind Empire Entertainments along with Mr Cunningham, promised it would be one of the highlights of the summer and the biggest festival of Celtic music in the country.

* Taking place between August 14 and 20, tickets for the World Fleadh Irish and Celtic Music Festival are on sale now from TicketLord.

* See for more information.

What’s HOT this summer

June 9: Guns’n’Roses at RDS Arena.

June 10: Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris at The Point.

June 11: Metallica at RDS Arena.

June 10 & 11: Eagles at Lansdowne Road.

June 26: Depeche Mode at The Point.

June & July: Live at the Marquee (Cork): David Gray; Bob Dylan; Art Garfunkel; Roger Waters; The Frames; Robert Plant; Roxy Music; Des Bishop.

July 28 & 29: Midlands festival (Meath) - Van Morrison; Kenny Rogers; Dwight Yokam; Nanci Griffith; Emmylou Harris.

June 24: Bob Dylan & Flaming Lips at Kilkenny Source Festival.

July 2: Andrea Bocelli at Kilkenny.

September 1, 2 & 3: Electric Picnic.

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