The Sligo Summer Festival has become a welcome recurring feature on Sligo’s events calendar, bringing 20,000 people into the centre of the town and creating a lively carnival atmosphere complete with a wide variety of food stalls.
Initiated and still run by a voluntary group of Sligo business people, and supported by Sligo County Council, it has gone from strength to strength. Having started as a two-day event, this year it will take place over four days from August 9th to 12th. As an added bonus, next month’s festival overlaps with the second day of the Sligo Races. which will add to the atmosphere around the town.
This year’s festival kicks off with an 80s themed night with Kieran Quinn on the Thursday, Example & DJ Wire on the Friday, Mundy and Paddy Casey on the Saturday and Mike Denver and friends on the Sunday. As well as the music, the festival features a family fun day and is an event that Sligo County Council is happy to support.
“It’s a huge opportunity to increase revenue for all the businesses in the town, ranging from restaurants and bars to convenience shops and taxi companies, most Sligo businesses will benefit from the festival,” says Fergal Quinn, one of the event organisers who, along with his brother Kevin, owns The Embassy Restaurant, Lola Montez nite club, Kennedys Bar, Bourbon Bar and HenandStagSligo.ie
“I’ve been involved since the start of the Sligo Summer Festival as have a number of people around the town, including Brian O’Sullivan from the Garavogue, Allen Banks from The Snug, Karl Kelly from Brooks Hanley and Daniel McGarrigle from 5th on Teeling, who originally came up with the idea. Gail McGibbon and Finbarr Filan from Sligo BID are also involved so there’s a good broad cross-section of people involved in the committee.”
Fergal stresses the importance of the support of Sligo BID and Sligo County Council to the success of the event.
“There’s a lot of expense to put on these concerts and, while we have kept the expenses to a minimum with a voluntary committee running it, there are still a lot of costs, including the acts’ expenses.
“Much of the finance comes from businesses in town, including the organisers, Sligo BID and Sligo County Council – as well as the €3 entrance fee. For next year, there are plans for a second similar festival for the May Bank Holiday weekend, so that’s why support from the County Council and BID is so important,” says Fergal.
With the prospect of a second festival being held on the May Bank Holiday weekend and discussions about Sligo Races creating a festival week to coincide with the August festival, the future is bright for outdoor entertainment in Sligo.
So, what does preparing for the arrival of 20,000 people mean for Sligo’s hospitality businesses?
“We’ll be going into festival mode as we always do,” says Fergal, “putting outside bars in and really ramping up to prepare for quite a busy weekend. We’ve found that over the years we’ve got extremely good feedback from some of the hens and stags who come through HenandStagSligo.ie on the festival weekend. On weekends like that, we could have 250 hens and stags coming into town and the feedback from it is incredible. They’re blown away by the atmosphere around Sligo. It’s very good for the promotion of the town and county outside of Sligo.”