2019 Kilkenny Roots Festival was biggest ever, sales up by 20%
By SINÉAD CONNOLLY
THIS year’s Kilkenny Roots festival was the most successful ever, with ticket sales up more than 20% on last year’s event.
Festival founder John Cleere said he was delighted with this year’s May Bank Holiday weekend event, with more and more people coming from abroad for the 22-year-old festival.
John told KilkennyNow.ie: “It gives a huge boost to local businesses at a relatively quiet time of year. Early May is not the best time to try and bring in big audiences. The tourist authorities, like Fáilte Ireland, are very focused on the high summer months, but we have built our audience on word of mouth and quality programming.”
Many acts sold out last weekend, and John said the challenge now is to maintain the momentum.
“Sales wise, this has been our most successful year since we started 22 years ago. Overall, we are over 20% up on last year. The festival has reached a level that we are very happy with, if we can maintain these numbers in the coming years we will be very happy,” John added.
The festival offered audiences the opportunity to sample some of the finest names in Americana/Roots canon in 30-plus venues across the city, with over 90 ticketed and free shows. Performances from a heady mix of new and well-known Irish and international acts entertained audiences from early afternoon until late into the night.
“One of the strong points of the festival is introducing new acts, not just to Kilkenny, but often to Ireland for the first time. New acts like William The Conqueror, The Accidentals and River Whyless all played sold out shows. More established acts like Patty Griffin, The Delines, The Sadies and Alejandro Escovedo all played packed out shows in the bigger venues such as The Set, Watergate and Kytelers,” John said.
The Smithwick’s Music Trail allowed attendees to enjoy thrilling performances in Kilkenny’s pubs free of charge, catering for all tastes from swing to bluegrass, rockabilly to cajun, folk, blues and beyond.
According to John, all the feedback from local businesses and tourist providers has been extremely positive, with visitors blown away by the festival and all that Kilkenny itself has to offer.
“It certainly draws a ‘no-hassle’, good humoured crowd from all over Ireland and further afield. We saw a significant increase in attendees from continental Europe, with people from Germany, Spain, Holland, Italy, France all enjoying the music and Kilkenny in general,” John added.
Asked about his favourite moment from this year’s festival, John said: “There were many stand out moments, but hearing John Perry, guitarist with legendary band, The Only Ones, guest with Alejandro Escovedo was a very memorable moment.”
After a hectic few months planning the popular festival, John is going to enjoy a well-earned break before he starts planning all over again for next year’s event: “It’s back to drawing board now for 2020. There’s lots of enquiries in already, but I need to take a break first before we start preparing for next year.”
PHOTOS: Kilkenny Roots Festival Facebook