“The Body & Soul vision is to build a permanent festival site that can be developed, progressed and evolved for future generations to enjoy – aspiring to heighten awareness of the people-environment connection while exploring and promoting every twist and turn of countless new, exciting artistic corners & pathways.”

A quick trawl through the Facebook pages and websites of the glitterati of Irish festivals turns up one very interesting fact.  That while top performer, Electric Picnic with its 193,000 following and Tier 1 lineup, may be the doyenne of Irish festivals, mid-Summer’s Body & Soul has one fundamental which EP lacks – a mission statement.

Held in the gloriously verdant grounds of Clonmellon’s Ballinlough Castle (one hour from Dublin in Co. Meath) with its lily-strewn lake and 15th century walled gardens, Body & Soul which started life as “a small gathering of people interested in art, music, performance, holistic arts, community and creative expression” has grown exponentially since its 2009 inception.  Now boasting a solid following just shy of 65k, B&S is now ranked as one of the top Irish music festivals alongside Forbidden Fruit, Longitude and of course, the afore-mentioned EP.

Taking its inspiration from the likes of Nevada’s Burning Man, B&S lives by a very straightforward ethos – that it is “an entire experience for the body and mind rather than a series of concerts”. This meeting of ‘body and soul’ is what sets this festival, or solstice sojourn, apart from its peers.  At its core is its willingness to offer up a platter of experiences – from wellbeing to arts & culture, food & drink to sustainability.

Far from being a one trick pony affair, B&S is the master of inclusivity where others are more or less jacks of singular trades, EP being the biggest exception to that rule.  In a manner similar to its Norwegian counterpart – Øyafestivalen – Body & Soul stretches its several tendrils across an eclectic landscape made up of cultural, environmental and societal terrains.

While its music line up may not read like a who’s who of 2017 chart-stardom, it is sufficiently packed with artists, albeit not necessarily household names, whose critical acclaim precedes them. Cases in point … Nashville collective Lambchop, long revered by serious music critics like Wyndham Wallace … Australian EDM outfit Rufus who’ve already stolen the #1 slot in their homeland for both their two albums plus singles … and experimental Icelandic band Mammút who have long been favourites of the likes of Ja Ja Ja Nordic and other polar-focussed publications.

Add to that the long list of Irish acts including established acts such as Cork man Talos, whose glorious orchestral ambience is both fascinating and exhilarating, as well as a fresh batch of new talent in the forms of TooFools, Katie Laffan and Kelly-Anne Byrne etc.

“Body&Soul isn’t just about the revelry, we give time to indulgence and recovery as well.”

Body & Soul is set in the verdant Second Nature space – are area for discovery, to be explored at leisure. A space in which to centre and become grounded, it is an oasis which allows festival goers to simply ‘be’.  Workshops and classes offer everything from yoga to hula-hooping (although this reviewers arthritic right hip would surely scupper all attempts at Elvis-like gyrations). Balance your chakras, chant a few oms, and settle into your lotus … this is a mini-nirvana we could all do with I’m sure.

Body & Soul’s aesthetic of magical escape, is a craft-based one set around the idea of unearthing hideaways, where super-sized PAs and plastic walkways are replaced by artisan wooden stages and hand-painted signs.

Lodgings follow the Glasto experience, coming in the shape of a Boutique camping offering of bell tents, yurts & tipis replete with dedicated toilets and showers – ideal for all the wiggly-phobes among you.  Camping packages offering a range of pre-paid, pre-pitched tents, come with Pamper Pack add-ons including your very own dream Pamper the Camper team, who’ll set up ‘home’ on the site of your choice.

Child friendly, the festival offers a wide range of ‘Soul Kids’ activities from the now de rigueur Fairy face painting to dance workshops, discos and nature trails.  From an arty perspective, the festival organisers collaborate with artists, theatre groups and performers of national and international renown, to create an intimate and inclusive programme of dramatic spectaculars and enlightened installations.

An independent festival with a heart-shaped mind and a cutting-edge soul, Body & Soul offers a special something for everyone.  Every type of charming, captivating and mood-enhancing delight is part of the B&S experience, from losing oneself in unspoilt landscapes or seeking sanctuary in quiet meditative spaces, to four-poster picnics, dancing under the stars, fireworks and moonlight masquerades’.  Surely any lover of the aesthetically pleasing, naturally magical and culturally inspiring would jump at the chance?

Body & Soul 2017 runs from 23rd to 25th June – full details on their website http://bodyandsoul.ie/

Tickets are available via Ticketbooth and cost Euro 195.00.


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