I arrived in Westport early on Friday and although I knew I was definitely going to the festival on Sunday (I wasn’t missing Bryan Adams for the world), I wasn’t quite set on planning my entire weekend around the festival. I had planned to do the corny touristy things like climb Croak Patrick, see Achill, visit the tourist spots. Then I thought, nah, that’s not me. I’ll go meet some locals and hear some stories of the area! I’ll pop along on Saturday and collect my media pass and then hang our for an hour on site. Then chill until Bryan O’clock on Sunday! Friday night saw me visit a few of the wee local bars (I avoided the popular tourist bars in favour of meeting the real locals). Quite a few characters were met and I heard lots of quirky stories about Westport and it’s people. I even heard one about a local guard (who lives in Muff and well known in Westport!! Hmmm)

The Westport Festival of Music and Food took place over the past weekend, 28-29 June 2014. This is an annual two day boutique family friendly entertainment extravaganza, set amidst the picturesque 400-acre grounds of Westport House. The historic house and estate is located in the heart of one of Ireland’s most charming seaside towns, which is renowned for its music, excellent food, great pubs and a very warm welcome. Now in it’s third year, the event proved to be a fantastic fun filled weekend of entertainment, music from international and Irish musical acts, comedy, kid’s activities, delicious food village, quality purpose built on-site camping, beer tents and wine bars in a truly relaxed, friendly and chilled out atmosphere. And Craic On Muff was in the house!
I went along on Saturday to collect my pass and was told that I was in fact included on the VIP Guest List for the weekend, and what a weekend it turned out to be! I was allowed to access all areas, meet performers, and take photos at the stage. Who needs corny touristy things to do!!! Not me this weekend! On Saturday I managed to see/hear such acts as David Gray, The Overtones, 2CELLOS, Shane Filan, The Divine Comedy, and many many more. I visited the food village and sampled a variety of different foods. I caught a few of the acts on the comedy stage and even visited the DJ stage (a little young for me, but it was heaving!). The hospitality marquee proved to be a relaxing setting for resting between acts and hovering around the performers. Great food and wine, and a comfortable setting was provided to the side of the stage area. Various food outlets and coffee stalls were on site and numerous toilet and water facilities were to hand.

Westport House proved an idyllic setting for the weekend. The grounds were basking in sunshine over the two day festival. Saturday was a great afternoon and night of music and entertainment. I was delighted to catch up with Shane Filan before taking to the stage and he told me that this is his first solo performance at a music festival. He certainly got the crowds attention and all were bopping to the music. Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy gave a delightful interview in the Radio 1 tent. However, 2CELLOS stole the show for myself on Saturday. They rocked Westport with AC/DC, U2 and much more on the cellos! David Gray finished the night in style. Saturday was over and the crowds could only wonder how Sunday could possibly improve!
Sunday brought thousands to the grounds of Westport House. It was a delightful sight indeed. Personally I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Bryan Adams and I wasn’t disappointed! Bryan arrived late afternoon and posed for photos and chatted to the media. Sinead O’Connor arrived shortly before Bryan and really impressed me with her relaxed attitude and strolling around the grounds of the house. She had her two young sons along and they clearly enjoyed their playtime on the steps!

The day saw such acts as Bjorn Again, BellX1, Clew Bay Pipe Band, Sophie Ellis-Bexter, Sinead O’Connor and Kool and the Gang. Again it was an afternoon of non stop music, comedy and food. I’d met a couple from Cumbria who had travelled specially to see Kool and the Gang. I’m sure they weren’t disappointed! These guys had the audience in the palm of their hands from stepping on stage.dsc_8854

Bryan Adams took to the main stage at approximately 9.40pm and rocked Westport into the night. A non-stop 2 hours of his music had the 15,000+ people on their feet and wanting more. He finished the set to a thunderous applause.dsc_8953

Westport is well and truly on the world map of music festivals after this weekend. The event was so well organised that babies, young children, teenagers, adults and even the elderly alike could enjoy together. At no point did I witness any trouble or reason for complaint. Queues for food and toilet facilities were fast and organised. Young children played the day and night away, and many older people enjoyed sitting in the sun and just listening to the music going on around. And then there were those like myself who danced the days away!!

On arrival at the festival on Saturday I felt like a little fish in a very big ocean. Being part of the media gang and the only female in that gang, I was unsure if I’d survive the stage photo time, the meeting of performers, the rushing back to enjoy being part of the crowd and so much more! But by the end of Sunday night, I was very much part of the said gang and enjoyed working alongside each and every one of them. A huge thank you must go out to photographer Paul, from Tralee, who taught me so very much over the past two days. Cheers Paul!

What was the highlight of my weekend? Definitely the few moments spent alongside Bryan Adams on the steps of Westport House on Sunday afternoon. And then spending the two hours enjoying his best ever music set. As Bryan Adams said himself, ‘Thank you Westport, you’ve been great’. I’ll second that!
(check out craic on Muff facebook page for photos from the festival!)