A committed and excited fan base of festival-goers are on their toes this week as Northern Ireland’s only 3-day festival of music and art makes its first official lineup announcement.
Sunflowerfest: A Parallel Universe will run from 28th – 30th July 2017 on Tubby’s Farm, Hillsborough.
Irish comedy-rap duo Rubberbandits are scheduled to take their cult status to the main stage alongside acclaimed Derry-born singer-songwriter Ryan Vail’s new live AV show, which has been well-received at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas. Fan-favourites King Kong Company will also make a welcome return to headline the main stage.
Other additions to the bill will include Electric Swing Circus, a unique blend of 20s swing and modern electro, Golden Age-channeling MCs Too Many T’s, endearing, festival-worthy folk from Beans on Toast and the contagious humour of Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer. The festival maintains its strong links with music communities abroad by welcoming new Dublin noisemakers Farah Elle and Damola, and Glasgow pop-rockers Single By Sunday. Disco masters Le Galaxie as well as local-favourites Malojian and Reading & Leed’s regulars R51 will also bring their explosive sound back to the packed-out ‘festival for all’ at Sunflowerfest.
A local hub for all genres of music, the festival’s dedicated ‘ElectroMoot’ venue for dance and electronica will see a headline set from OR:LA alongside JIKA JIKA!, Ponyhawke and Brién at the controls with many more to be announced. To the delight of Sunflowerfest vegerans, the famous ‘Silent Disco’ will also make a welcomed return.
Speaking on the origins of the festival Sunflowerfest organiser, Vanessa Magowan described how the festival was borne out of their own sons’ musical pursuits at young ages. The husband and wife duo have developed the festival to be a family-friendly force in the local music and arts community. “Sunflowerfest began as a small-scale fundraiser to help our son raise money for a school project,” said Vanessa. “Over the years, the festival continued to grow until we made the decision to open to a wider public and host it on our picturesque farm in Hillsborough.”
An exciting new partnership will also be launched at this year’s festival with local-favourite eatery Boojum joining forces to feed hungry festival-goers, families and artists. Additionally, following the success of last year’s Year of Food and Drink venue, Sunflowerfest plans to this year bring a huge range of treats, cooking demonstrations and tastings showcasing the best in Northern Irish food and drink.
An emphasis on ‘world-building’
Previous years of the hugely successful festival have seen the enchanting natural beauty of Tubby’s Farm transformed into a steampunk haven and an ancient Viking settlement, among other unique themes. This year’s theme of A Parallel Universe places a focus on futurism. Organisers and designers are collaborating to create a festival experience that will guide the Sunflowerfest-faithful through space and time, a unique combination of art and science. Speaking on what can be expected at this year’s festival, festival organiser Michael Magowan described how their world-building ambitions are ‘rooted’ in positive community engagement. “Since 2002, over 7000 native trees including beech, birch, ash, alder, willow, hazel, and oak have been planted on-site,” said Michael. “The festival’s electronic music venue ‘The Moot’ and the festivals picturesque Pond Stage were crafted 5-years ago from a lorry load of renewable pine logs from the forest at Jonesborough, near Castlewellan.
“We strive to foster a sense of community and connection both during the festival and at Tubby’s Farm generally. While visiting the festival, people from all walks of life can enjoy yoga, meditation, interactive and educational workshops as well as inspirational talks from individuals who share creative and environmental interests. We’re proud to share our home in the countryside – a collective, beautiful, piece of heaven on earth. We are just the caretakers for the generations to come.
Sunflowerfest is built on principles of permaculture and sustainability, and each year an army of volunteers is assembled to ensure that the farm is prepared for the thousands of expected guests as well as looking after the land during the festival weekend.
Tickets for Sunflowerfest start at just £74.95 (includes 2 children, aged 15 and under) and £64.95 for students – now available online at www.sunflowerfest.co.uk. Additional bands, artists, and activities will be announced via Sunflowerfest’s website, Facebook, and Twitter.