This weekend sees the third of Westmeath’s four, highly-regarded boutique festivals to be held this summer, when the award-winning Body and Soul Festival kicks off tonight (June 29 ) in the grounds of Ballinlough Castle.
The festival takes place over the three nights of the summer solstice in the splendidly labyrinthine walled gardens and mature wooded glades of the traditional seat of the Nugent family, between Delvin and Clonmellon.
Year four of the festival is headlined by Spiritualized and M83, and supported by up to 80 highly individual artists, musicians, and bands on five very diverse stages.
There will also be a choreography of sylvan nymphs, lakeside Zen gardens, a chill-zone in the orchard, a secluded soul kids garden, and a stunning range of art installations that will make you gasp with an eye-wide delight.
For relaxation and escape, the thoughtful organisers have provided 30 therapists to provide a whole range of well-earned treatments around the site, and a collection of wood-fired hot tubs hidden in a secluded glade for those battered bones of the occasional camper.
One of the stand-out installations is the main stage, set in its own bowl-like amphitheatre, and made almost entirely of off-cuts from the estate’s own woodland.
The circular structure was designed and built by west Cork artist and carpenter Christy Collard and a team of four over the last month, and it features an ingenious self-supported, geometric reciprocal roof.
The brains behind the entire show is Californian woman Avril Stanley who bit the bullet with the Nugents three years ago, after she had previously run a healing area at similar events, including the world-famous Burning Man Festival in her native state.
Ms Stanley’s confidence and belief in the venue is quite impressive saying “We have a 100-year plan to develop the site”.
The underlying confidence of the whole project is highlighted by the top-end dining possibilities at the site.
Alongside all the traditional festival fare, Body and Soul has employed the skills and expertise of Michelin-starred chef Gary Bell to provide what he describes as a“ theatrical dining experience” not previously seen at an outdoor venue in Ireland.
Though all camper van tickets are sold out, a number of day (€55 ) and weekend (€99 ) camping tickets are still available through Ticketmaster.
An additional €25 will be added for anybody wishing to include tonight into the weekend’s experience.