The great indoors: Is virtual festival season a gimmick too far?

This weekend, thousands of music heads should be at Body & Soul festival, and for the rest of the summer we’ll still be getting calendar notifications for cancelled gigs and festivals. Still, many promoters are still making sure there’s a virtual party to be had — and here’s some of the best Irish and international streams. 

Set For Love, tonight, tomorrow & Sunday, £5+ suggested donation for contributors 
Techno legend Carl Cox has been keeping fans occupied over the weekends since the shutdown began, with his Lockdown Sessions, ranging from chillout disco sets to a recreation of his iconic F.A.C.T. 1995 album mix. This weekend, Coxy is headlin- ing the Set For Love festival, along with Eats Everything, Nightmares on Wax and hundreds of other DJs united under the banner of Last Night a DJ Saved My Life. From superstars to bedroom DJs, anyone can get involved in the 72-hour simultaneous livestream, with all money raised going to charity. 

Carl Cox

MDLBEAST Tomorrow-Sunday
Middle Eastern entertainment brand MDLBEAST is hosting its first edition of Freqways — a 12-hour immersive rave and travel experience that begins tomorrow at 5pm Irish time and carries through till 5am on Sunday — midsummer, and also World Music day. The festival has been conceptualised as a travel experience, so each stage is a ‘boarding gate’, with the destination being a front-row living room seat watching international DJs such as Afrojack, Deep Dish, Claptone, Steve Aoki and many more, including Middle Eastern DJ heroes such as Anmarz, Jade x Tala, Balooo and Cosmicat. 
When you register you get a personalised ‘boarding pass’ with a departure and arrival time — a nice touch if you’re missing the international festival buzz this year. l 

Pride 2020 Global Pride, June 27, Irish events up till July 22, FREE 
Like music festivals worldwide, this year’s Pride celebrations are being experienced through screens rather than boisterous in-the-flesh buzzing. On Saturday week, Global Pride will be streaming 24 hours of artistic performances, speeches from activists and campaigners, and addresses. In Ireland, the virtual Pride celebrations are already underway and keep going until July 22. Dublin is throw- ing a full programme, with discussions, debates, tours, and of course the virtual parade — hosted by Ringmaster Paul Ryder and Mr Pride Eddie McGuinness. 

District 8 Big Night In, Tomorrow, €10 
Most of us are finding it hard to get excited about the pubs reopening with the new rules, but it’ll be even longer before we’re back to any kind of normal when it comes to clubs. Before March techno didn’t exactly scream ‘night in’, but tomorrow, District 8 is throwing a night of banging techno with a huge prize giveaway. DJs include Sunil Sharpe, Cailín, Aeron, Yasmin Gardezi, and it’s hosted by Emmet Kirwan. Prizes range from T-shirts and Underground Resistance-style masks and bandanas right up to five Gold Cards — lifetime free entry to the club. They’re also giving away Babooshka Hair Salon Vouchers — for the time when you’re ready to show your face properly in public again. 

Sunil Sharpe

Tomorrowland Around the World, 3D July 25 & 26, Day ticket €12.50, weekend €20
Belgian EDM-heavy festival Tomorrowland is one of the most iconic big-budget annual festivals. This year it’s premiering its first 3D virtual festival in a special remote location, with dozens of DJs performing over the weekend. It offers an interactive, socially engaged experience for dance fans worldwide, with eight different stages, webinars, workshops and loads more. DJs include Amelie Lens, Dixon, Charlotte de Witte, Tale of Us, ANNA, Adam Beyer, and loads more. 

Glastonbury: Lost Horizon, July 3-4
Glastonbury is cancelled for 2020, but one of its most iconic, up-for it attractions is going online to party through it. Shangri-La is being rendered in 3D form for a two-day rollover festival called Lost Horizon, featuring the likes of Fatboy Slim, Peggy Gou, and Carl Cox. Join in on a desktop or via a mobile app, or for an extra buzz there’s a virtual reality option via the Sansar platform, with “computer-generated avatars and green screen hologram performances”. 

Other Voices — Courage Weekly, Thursday nights, until July 7
Other Voices had the unique stroke of luck this year by being one of the few music bodies to throw a festival, in Ballina in February. Since lockdown, the people behind the much-loved showcase festival have been inviting artists to play special lockdown mini-sets, with highlights so far being Mango x Mathman in an empty Whelan’s, and Denise Chaila’s spellbinding performance in the National Gallery that just about confirmed she’s the year’s top breakout star. 

Cork Midsummer Festival, Till This Sunday 
This year’s Midsummer Festival was cancelled with a typically sad press release in March, but organisers ended up dusting themselves off, to come up with a new reimagined festival for those of us at home on our laptops. There’s been 10 days of art happenings, performance art, guided walks, theatre and music events, but it’s coming to an end. Camille O’Sullivan is hosting a special concert on Sunday, performing in various areas in her home, before singing us a bedtime lullaby.