A very belated festival review due to moving house and moving country!
It was the 10th anniversary of the Festival of World Cultures this year and the celebrations started with a most magical concert in Monkstown Church entitled Homeland on Friday night. What made the collaboration between Iarla O’Lionaird, Tanya Tagaq (Canada) and Adjagas (Norway) so beautiful was not only their most extraordinary songs and sounds but also that it was obvious how much they enjoyed playing together. With all the stress I’d had the week beforehand this was just the medicine I needed to calm my nerves, get inspired and centre myself again. What a perfect beginning to a lovely festival weekend.
The Festival of World Cultures has always held a special place in my heart as the first festival I volunteered with and for having such a unique atmosphere. The past few years I’ve helped with workshops in the mornings and have then had the rest of the day off to meet up with friends for some food, lying around on the grass and dancing at the larger outdoor gigs. This year the workshops were pretty fascinating again. The first one was about making basic but clever little electronic instruments, e.g. one attached to a paintbrush that lets you ‘play’ a table cloth with your fingers as if it was a piano, amazing! The second workshop was one with Icelandic group Amiina who use all sorts of household items and other props to make their unique brand of music.
On Saturday night a friend of mine and I volunteered at a special cooking demonstration in the Giddy Goose Café with Chinese flute player and chef Guo Yue. Logistically it looked like a bit of a nightmare at first as the café owners weren’t really used to this sort of event and my friend and I were trying hard to keep the customers, the chef and everyone else happy. Luckily, he turned out to be a talented performer who wowed everyone, including Moya Brennan, with his cooking, flute playing and storytelling skills and the evening ended up being a huge success. Needless to say we got to finish all his delicious dishes ‘backstage’ in the kitchen, a welcome volunteer perk as it’s quite a task to watch people eat all night while you’re working.
On Sunday I had a bit more time to catch up with friends and other volunteers and to enjoy the acts at the Newtownsmith stage. The fascinating Malian singer Rokia Traore was the headline act of this year’s festival and it was lovely to dance in front of the stage with people of all ages and cultural backgrounds with not a drop of rain falling from the sky. Later on we ventured down to the Purty Kitchen for the last gig of the weekend: Jah Wobble and the Nippon Dub Ensemble. Sounds odd but it turned out to be some very danceable beats mixed with traditional Japanese music which had us on our feet until it was time to catch the last bus home.
In the past ten years the Festival of World Cultures has really come quite a long way from its early beginnings to this massive outdoor event that is consistently amazing every single year. I don’t know what it is exactly that makes it so special, but whatever it is everyone seems to respect and cherish its gentle spirit of coming together of different cultures, inclusiveness and fun. It’s a really beautiful thing to watch this magic happen again every summer.