We travelled up to Sea Sessions in Donegal to get a taste of Ireland's only surf and music festival.
Ladies and gentlemen, you should really consider putting Sea Sessions on your bucket list and here’s why:
At Sea Sessions, not only do you get amazing music but you will find so much more. From surfing and skateboarding to beautiful views and amazing people.
Sea Sessions is set in the Donegal town of Bundoran, a typical Irish town that not only plays host to surfing elite all year round, but also to one of the most spectacular festivals to grace Irish shores. Surrounded by mountains on the Wild Atlantic Way, photos alone will never do this festival justice, you will just have to experience it for yourself!
So, a small festival isn’t going to offer you the biggest music acts in the world, but what it will give you is the opportunity to discover new music, and more well-known acts will put on a great show.
On the Friday night, the music doesn’t start until 6pm, but that gives you lots of time to get settled, and to catch some of the Expressions Session surf competition. Some top surfers were invited to take part in the competition. It’s not open to amature surfers, but anyone can watch from the beach. The wind was bitter but the amazing skills being shown off by the surfers was a great distraction.
With the festival arena right on the beach it was just a few steps to get to the music. The arena is a small space, which makes it handy to get from stage to stage. Being right on the coast, you will find yourself walking on sand, grass and a bit of gravel as you explore the site, so it really is a weekend beach party.
Wolves of Youth were first up on the main stage and despite the small audience, they put on a great show. As more people joined the festivities, the good vibes only spread as everyone anticipated the night ahead.
The Main Stage tent is the perfect location for all types of fans. It’s easy to move around, so even when filled with people, it never felt overcrowded. A spot in front of the stage, while coveted for some of the bigger acts, is still pretty achievable if you want to get up close and personal with an artist. With the stage placed on the bottom of a slight slope, you will have a great view from wherever you stand.
As great as the main stage is, the North Shore stage, is just as good. The tent is smaller, which allows for a more intimate experience. Orchid Collective enticed people into the tent with their cool sound and by the time they left the stage the crowd where buzzing.
The Clandestinos had the crowd hopping with their distinctive upbeat reggae and ska sound. Over on the main stage, Sigma kicked the weekend into over drive. Finishing the night in style was Cuban Brothers on the Main Stage and Kormac on the North Shore, giving fans lots of options to dance the night away.
Main Stage Tent
The music on Saturday and Sunday starts at 4, and there are lots of options for a fun filled day until then. Just beside the beach, fans could take part in some of the Barefoot sports on offer, including football, volleyball and tag rugby. If you’re not feeling in an active mood you can always relax on the beach and watch the world go by. We took some time to chill on the sand and ran into the crew from Clean Coats who were not only out picking up rubbish off the beach but also promoting their #2minutebeachclean initiative. They want anyone who goes to the beach to take 2 minutes before leaving to pick up rubbish. It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep our country beautiful, not only for us to enjoy but for future generations too. Click here for more information.
Sea Sessions on a whole has a very chilled out vibe. Staff always have a smile on their faces, even the bar staff, who are rushed off their feet all night. Sea Sessions fans are a cool bunch with nobody in a rush, they’re happy to just enjoy the atmosphere.
There was lots of great music on offer again. From Wyvern Lingo, Soulé and Gurr. Otherkin brought their active performing style to the North Shore, with front man Luke Reilly jumping all over the stage. Stomptown Brass, a 10-piece urban street-funk band had the crowd bouncing as they played a multitude of upbeat original songs and even covered ‘King of the Swingers’ from The Jungle Book. They had some pretty great dance moves too!
The main headliners of the night were The Coronas, who, as always put on a spectacular show. It’s really no wonder that this band continue to fill venues repeatedly. They were clearly delighted to be back performing. With front man Danny looking overwhelmed by the support from the audience on a few occasions. He reminisced about the time they first played Sea Sessions, saying only about 50 people turned out to see them and to see the band as one of the headliners for the weekend was one of his proudest moments.
Daithi finished the night off with his signature style of mixing live violin with electronic beats.
On the walk back to the camp site you are sure to find the playground full with people taking turns on the swings and pushing each other on the merry-go-round. Sea Sessions being a great place to let your inner child out.
Humour and yummy toasties, what more could you want?
Ticketmaster Ted at Stomptown Brass.
Confetti explosion at The Coronas
Balloon release at The Coronas
On the final day, despite people being tired and sore, the energy hadn’t faded. The spirits remain high as people wander around Bundoran town and chill on the beach. Enjoying the final hours before they must leave their Sea Sessions bubble and return to real life.
Chasing Abbey, Brian Deady and Bitch Falcon could be found across the stages today. Each putting on a great show and bringing their unique style to Sea Sessions. Rising Irish star Áine Cahill rocked the North Shore stage with her full female band. Whilst on the Main Stage the legendary Primal Scream thrilled the audience playing classic after classic, with the whole crowd singing along. The band were set to play Sea Sessions in 2016, but had to cancel after Bobby Gillespie fell 7 foot from a speaker while on stage in Switzerland. They more than made up for cancelling, but Gillespie kept his feet firmly on the stage.
You will see so much going on throughout the festival, take the 3 girls carrying sticks with unicorn heads attached to the top (it sounds scary but it was actually cute). The unicorns had a bit too much fun though, evident from the industrial tape keeping them together by the end of the weekend.
As with every festival, many people had covered themselves in glitter, but surprisingly it seemed to be more men than women sporting the sparkly decoration.
Leaving the festival for the last time we were sad that it was all over but delighted that we travelled up to Donegal for the weekend. We can’t recommend this festival enough, so for anyone seeking a great weekend, Sea Sessions needs to be on your list.