Sea Sessions has grown from a relatively tiny festival in Bundoran, to being one of the most popular boutique style festivals in Ireland – without losing any of its original charm. And that’s why I love it! From the site itself (small but cosy, with not too much noise crossover, and sand instead of mud), to the location (looking over the Atlantic ocean, and close to town), to the extras (surf comps, discounts, beach activities and great food stalls), there is little bad I can say about this set up.
We arrived on Friday eve in the lashing rain and the thoughts of going to the festival site were painful, so we had a couple of pre-drinks in the local, Madden’s Bridge Bar which was packed with like-minded people. About 9 in the eve, things started to clear up and we made our 5 minute walk down to the site. We queued for about 2 minutes to get our passes (the nicest I have seen at an Irish festival) and we were in hassle free. The first thing I noticed was the crowd – much bigger than previous years. The next thing I noticed was the good layout of tents, amenities, bars. I don’t think I even had to queue for a drink at the Heineken bar, and we made our way to see Villagers. A beautiful set was performed but it seemed a little lost of the crowd who were still just arriving on the site. Next we made our way to Ham Sandwich, only to find that tent so packed we had to listen outside with lots of others! I’m not a huge Ham Sandwich fan, but wow, was I impressed! One of the highlights of the weekend for me… After the night on site ended we headed back to the Bridge Bar where Noel Phelan had us dancing the night away. By the time I feel into bed at 5am, the thoughts of my early morning surf were a distant promise 🙂
Saturday was perfect festival weather. After a walk along the stunning cliff walk footpath, we came across the Quiksilver Expression Session surf competition. Granted the waves weren’t massive, but the lads did their best, so we got to see some good moves. Irish entry Cain Kilcullen was best of the Irish so it was a good day out for him! Gemma Hayes kicked off my Saturday proceedings – I LOVE her. A 4pm slot was not very suitable though, I think she could have pulled off a set at 8pm or so. On another note she is one stunning and talented girl!! After Gemma’s chill set a few drinks and chill time were needed in the Bacardi Bar area. What a cool spot – tunes, hot blokes serving drinks, girls dancing, cool seats – just what I needed! Next up were The Go! Team. Having seen these guys a few years back I knew what to expect. Unfortunately the sound in the main tent let them down… It was still a pulsating, fun, energetic performance that the crowd got into but I felt the band seemed a little frustrated. We legged it across to catch Bitches With Wolves in the North Shore tent and it was there I witnessed my next highlight of the weekend – so much fun! I didn’t know any of his stuff going in, and yet could sing most of his catchy songs coming out. Fun and great!! BellX1 were always gonna draw a huge crowd but it was more jammers than I could have imagined for their show back in the main tent. It was a great set let down by a weird choice of encore songs. Lots of singing along, cheering and handholding ensued. Unfortunately I’m not a fan of most of their new stuff so used those songs for toilet breaks 🙂 To finish the night off it was Grandmaster Flash. What a set! Something for everyone of every age, that had everyone (and I mean everyone) dancing in the main tent. He may be old, but wow does he still have it! If I had to pick the best gig of the weekend, this was it. Trudging off site that night it was clear most people felt the same. For a change of scene we decided to hit up the local nightclub – I think we ruined some of the locals Saturday night out. We certainly weren’t dressed the part…
Sunday started off beautiful. I even contemplated a swim to get rid of my hangover. Caught the first half of Mayo v Galway in the local before it was time to get over to the site to catch those beautiful Galway brothers, The Kanyu Tree. Regular readers of the blog will know I love these guys – they are extremely talented, fun and gorgeous to boot! They kinda remind me of an Irish Vampire Weekend. It was a 3pm slot so I wasnt expecting many people about but I was happy to see the main tent busy enough. I even met Michael D Higgins wandering about and he told me he was there to support his local band! Maybe it was a sign, but after the lads left the stage the skies opened and soon it was freezing and wet. After a fun set from The Frank & Walters, we got food and refuge in the Eco Bus which set us up nicely for the rest of the night. Hat ‘n Cara were up next, and another surprise of the weekend for me – really entertaining and energetic. My brother tells me they play Dublin soon so I will definitely try get to that. I ended up missing The Danger Is due to running into Ziggy Marley and band wandering around looking for chats, but was back to catch the amazing Charles Bradley who had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. The man is a legend and I could have listened to him all night. The weather cleared up for the night and we headed off to catch Ziggy in the main tent which was wedged. Everyone seemed to enjoy it but I just wasnt embracing it in the same way. I caught some of The Walls on the North Shore stage and decided to call it a night. As I walked back to get into bed, I couldn’t help think that there are few festivals in Ireland where I could walk home via the ocean, grab my last pint in the local bar, and feel so safe and happy.
Sea Sessions, yet again you will be hard to beat as my favourite Irish festival. See you next year!!!
*All videos and images taken from Seasessions.com site*