Take me to church: Other Voices heads to Mayo

We barely get time to breathe after summer festival season before we’re bombarded by winter weekenders, with circus tents swapped for pubs, clubs and indoor auditoriums, and the wellies, hotpants and muscle vests stored away till next year.

The Metropolis line-up is already taking shape and early birds have sold out, while Hard Working Class Heroes is taking over venues in Dublin this weekend. Boxed Off returns to Fairyhouse Racecourse this weekend, but as always, it’s all indoors.

By far the cosiest of the Irish winter festivals is Other Voices, which has been running in Dingle in Kerry since 2001, and has been showcased in Derry, Berlin, Texas, New York and of course its famous stage at Electric Picnic. And not forgetting the main tangible product is a beautifully-shot television programme that’s aired a few months after the fact, with live performances, interviews and profiles.

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Mango x Mathman

The venues are paramount to Other Voices’ magic. In Dingle, it’s the tiny St James’s Church for the headliners, with the Music Trail acts dotted around pubs in the town, with artists becoming punters for the weekend.

This year, Other Voices is staging its first edition in Ballina, and they’ve bottled some of the magic spirit of Dingle, with a line-up and collection of venues befitting one of Ireland’s most beloved weekenders.

The venue for headliners is once again in a church, St Michael’s, with other local bars and clubs welcoming the Music Trail acts, with 35 acts playing over the weekend, alongside talks, debates and exhibitions.

The de facto headliner for Other Voices Mayo is Villagers, with Conor O’Brien’s new album The Art of Pretending To Swim sure to be one of the records of the year, and a cert for a Choice Prize nomination. Other acts in the church include Tennessee alt/indie singer-songwriter Julien Baker, Belgian-Egyptian singer Tamino, experimental Irish folk star Seamus Fogarty, BBC Sound of 2018 star Sam Fender and local hero, singer-songwriter Maria Kelly. Dublin indie-rock act Little Green Cars and MC Maverick Sabre round up the line-up in the church. Tickets were predictably hard to come by, but the festival has teamed up with Virgin Media to live stream the performances in HD at special listening venues around the town so no one misses out – almost like the fan zones that have become famous at football tournaments.

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But even if you haven’t got one of the gold dust St Michael’s tickets – they were only available through competitions – the Music Trail offers hours of music over the weekend.

Just register at eventbrite.ie for a free festival wristband and you’re free to wander – with a few highlights including Dublin grime pair Mango x Mathman, hip-hop star JyellowL, Derry indie-pop singer ROE, lo-fi psychedelia from Malojian.

And with the self-explanatory After Dark club night closing out tonight and tomorrow, you won’t be going home early.

And if you need recharging, the OV geniuses have put the festival on the same weekend as the Ballina Food Fleadh, so you won’t be short of excuses to treat yourself with some local produce.