Sunflowerfest 2017 in Review
The final weekend of July 2017 was the weekend everything got wet underfoot and went awry. Andres Gutierrez had a slip in the shower and canceled his fight against Belfast’s Carl Frampton. Heavy rain across the UK led to the calling off of a few festivals. There were no such problems over at Sunflowerfest’s “Parallel Universe”.
A call for good vibes only from the crowd at Sunflowerfest 2017. Copyright Sean Duncan – Red Cap Productions.
The annual indie festival of music, art, comedy, and more kicked off on Friday 28th July on Tubby’s Farm, Hillsborough. We joined eager fans in sunshine and in rain to enjoy some of Northern Ireland’s finest talent alongside touring acts.
On Friday night, Too Many Ts gave a few shout outs to Belfast but by the end of a catchy hook-laden set, we all knew where we were. Sunflowerfest’s 8th annual festival was well underway.
Friday night entertainment from Sunflowerfest 2017. Copyright Sean Duncan – Red Cap Productions.
Ryan Vail and Crazy P Soundsystem kept the early crowds entertained on the bigger stages as night descended on day one.
One of the beautiful things about Sunflowerfest is the ability to get out and explore off the beaten track. You never know what you might find hidden in the forest.
I loved that they gave an opportunity to smaller artists with the open mic sets and really loved the acoustic Forest Stage. Aria Sail were brilliant.
Sian O’Neill was another fan of the new chilled out stage for 2017.
One of the highlights of Saturday was stumbling upon the new addition Forest Stage. Tucked away on a secret path behind the main stage, it featured some open mic sessions throughout the day. We sat there for ages listening to acoustic sets and open mic turns, sheltered from the rain showers by the trees and twinkly lights. It was a total highlight.
Saturday rolled around and brought sets from Folk and Tumble favourites Malojian and local act Hiva Oa. The latter split opinion with their unique slant of indie-pop as highlights were discussed over pints of local Whitewater beers.
We caught up with Marie Hill enjoying a spot of Saturday comedy in the Heverlee tent.
One of the highlights for me was comedian Teresa Livingstone. She not only had her prepared material, but was able to respond to hecklers and even 2 aliens with the highest of wit. She never disappoints and you can be sure your sides will be splitting with laughter. She is a must see!
Main stage headliners Rubberbandits steal the show on Saturday night at Sunflowerfest 2017. Copyright Sean Duncan – Red Cap Productions.
On the Saturday night, Main Stage headliners Rubberbandits proved to be a huge success winning over new fans. They may not be the most “folk” of acts, we’ll ever mention on the site but they’re exciting and have lent a whole new dynamic to the protest song.
Going in I expected Rubberbandits to steal the show and they did. The absolutely mental crowd didn’t hurt! The hungry audience ate up the other evening’s headliners (Ryan Vail and King Kong Company) and seemed to be having a great time dancing in the mud.
Le Galaxie play on through the Sunday rain at Sunflowerfest 2017. Copyright Scott Edgar – Folk and Tumble.
On Sunday the heavens opened. Thunder rolled in but like any good festival cliché spirits weren’t dampened.
We caught up with Kieran Mulholland and 8-month old son Alfie on Sunday afternoon. Both were enjoying the family-friendly facilities and atmosphere.
I think that’s what makes Sunflowerfest so good – the diverse range of people it caters for. The Forest Stage was a brilliant addition this year. I think the highlight for me was LeGalaxie on Sunday night. It’s a pity that the stormy weather sent more people home on Sunday than usual but as my sunburn will attest it was only pockets of bad weather.
Multi-instumentalist Mike Mormecha is no stranger to Sunflowerfest. Copyright Scott Edgar – Folk and Tumble.
Local fan favourites Beauty Sleep entertained the Campfire Stage crowd on Sunday afternoon between the showers.
Main stage highlights from a rainy Sunday at Sunflowerfest in Hillsborough. Copyright Scott Edgar – Folk and Tumble.
On the Main Stage and the Barn Stage, The Bonny Men and The Unholy Gospel Band were flying the flag for folk and the blues.
I have to say my favourite thing about the festival were the people – in the space of three days I did not see one bit of trouble. The atmosphere was family friendly with people discarding the wellies on the third day to run barefoot in the mud.
Beans on Toast was excited to be at the festival, his third of the weekend. Enjoying the local beers and variety of talent on site, he was in great form before his Campfire Stage set.
Beans on Toast may have over-estimated the Northern Irish weather for his Sunflowerfest debut. Copyright Scott Edgar – Folk and Tumble.
One of the largest Campfire Stage crowds of the weekend gathered next to and on the stage as the Essex “drunk-folk” songwriter wove his magic.
With King Kong Company bringing the party back to the Main Stage, the rains came down once again and Sunflowerfest drew to a close.
King Kong Company draw another successful Sunflowerfest to a close on Sunday night. Copyright Sean Duncan – Red Cap Productions.
Apart from a weekend of music, Sunflowerfest embraced their Parallel Universe theme with aplomb. W5 provided some science out in the green fields and a host of Star Wars characters wandered amidst the crowds.
Like most people, we didn’t have time to make it around everything on offer. No holistic therapies, discovering brand new busking talent or even tasty burritos for us.
There’s always Sunflowerfest 2018.