Wexford smitten by the charm of the Spiegeltent
When the idea of a festival in a 'tent' on Wexford's quays was first mooted six years ago, few believed it had any chance of success.
Now, the Wexford Spiegeltent Festival is one of the highpoints on the town's entertainment calendar, bringing in acts who would not otherwise consider a Wexford performance, particularly around the time of the Opera Festival when the town's premier permanent venue, the Opera House, is unavailable.
The secret of the Spiegeltent Festival's success is the venue. Back in 2012, visions of a marquee-type tent filled with plastic chairs and a plywood stage were quickly dispelled when the first spiegeltent arrived on the ferry from the UK. Not so much a tent as a pop-up music hall, the ornately decorated spiegeltent, built of wood and canvas, with mirrors and stained glass features, had a vintage charm all of its own.
The draw of the spiegeltent would not have been enough without the location. Stick a spiegeltent in a field and there's no guarantee the people will come; stick it on one of the country's best waterfront civic spaces and there's every chance they will. The occasional clackety-clack of a passing train only adds to the novelty value.
In the few years since the first Wexford Spiegeltent Festival, many notable artists have fallen for the lure of the spiegeltent - Bell X1, Paul Young, Christy Moore, Albert Hammond, Steve Earle, Mick Flannery, and Donovan among them.
This year, Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats join that growing list.
Never a man stuck for words, it will be interesting to hear what Geldof has to say about his spiegeltent experience, a far cry from the Rats' previous Wexford performance 42 years ago in The Dolphin at the top of The Faythe. That was before Band Aid, Live Aid and even the hits, like 'Rat Trap' and 'I Don't Like Mondays', that brought the Irish upstarts chart glory and fame across the Irish Sea and beyond.
These days the Boomtown Rats are among a mountain of acts plying their wares under the umbrella of 'nostalgia', but that will hadly stop Mr Geldof spitting the same venom as his younger self in the Spiegeltent Paradiso, if the mood takes him.
The Boomtown Rats play on Sunday, October 28, and - incredibly - it's not yet a sellout.
The same can't be said for some of the Spiegeltent Festival's other attractions. 'Living Next Door To Alice' hitmakers Smokie play opening night, this coming Friday, and there's not a ticket to be had for love nor money.
Other sellouts include Tommy Tiernan on Saturday, 13; The Stunning the following Saturday; and brothers Harry and Alfie Hudson-Taylor, AKA Hudson Taylor, on Friday, October 26.
At the time of writing, tickets remain for all the other Spiegeltent shows:
Wild Youth and Chasing Abbey co-headlining this coming Friday night, starting 10.30 p.m.
The Blindboy Podcast (with Blindboy of the Rubberbandits) at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Bosco's Garden and Cinderella, for all the little people, at noon on Sunday.
John B Keane's The Matchmaker, with Glenroe's Biddy (Mary McEvoy) and comedian Jon Kenny, at 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Local duos The Ocelots (twins Brandon and Ashley Watson) and Basciville (brothers Cillian and Lorcan Byrne), 8 p.m., Tuesday, October 16.
Johnny McEvoy, Wednesday, October 17, at 8 p.m.
A trio of comediennes, Deirdre O'Kane, Emma Doran and Julie Jay, Thursday, October 18, at 7 p.m.
Hermitage Green, Thursday, October 18, at 10 p.m.
The Prohibition Party, with music by the Electric Swing Circus, after the fireworks, at 9 p.m. on Friday, October 19.
Paul Noonan, the Bell X1 frontman, solo in-the-round, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 20.
OTT Wrestling, noon on Sunday, October 21.
Waterford Whispers, the show spawned by the popular satirical website of the same name, 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 21.
The Peacock Parlour hosted by Foxy P. Cox and starring special guest Jerry Fish, 8 p.m., Tuesday, October 23.
Brendan Grace, 8 p.m., Wednesday, October 24.
Paul Brady with Steve Fletcher, Bill Shanley and Suzanne Savage, 7 p.m., Thursday, October 25.
The Academic, the four-piece from Westmeath, 10 p.m. Thursday, October 25.
Neil Delamere, 7 p.m., Friday, October 26.
Delorentos, on their True Surrender Tour, 7 p.m., Sunday, October 27.
Something Happens, Tom Dunne and his band, who last appeared on the Spiegeltent stage in 2016, back on Sunday, October 27 at 10 p.m.
Horrid Helga's Victorian Circus promises to fire up the imagination in crazy style on Sunday, October 28 at noon.
Danny O'Brien, comedian, on Sunday, October 28, at 7 p.m.
The Wexford Male Voice Choir close the festival in fine voice on Bank Holiday Monday, October 30, at 2 p.m.
• Tickets for the Wexford Spiegeltent Festival are available online at www.wexfordspiegeltent.com and at the Box Office on Wexford's Main Street (053 9199199).