As you have probably guessed by now here at Startacus we get quite excited to hear about innovative or unusual start-ups... that’s pretty much a given. But when we come across something as innovative and unusual as a start-up music and arts festival on a country farm in County Derry, our little brains go into overdrive! Picture the scene, a lovely little farm set deep in the beautiful rolling countryside of Northern Ireland, and a few innovative locals determined to start-up their own music and arts festival. In 2011 their dream became a vibrant reality with the first ever Stendhal Festival of Art, on Ballymully Cottage Farm, Co Derry. Now in its third year the Stendhal festival is gaining huge popularity and is fast becoming a staple of the local music and cultural landscape. It’s a very unusual start-up for a whole host of reasons, here’s an idea of what it’s all about...
The festival runs for two days consecutively every year (this year its 16th and 17th August) and combines music, dance, theatre, art, poetry, sculpture and an exciting array of activities designed to encourage engagement, discovery and a sense of community within a wondrous and beautifully detailed setting. The name “Stendhal” may go someway to explaining the organisers' vision for his festival, Stendhal Syndrome being the experience of rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting and hallucinations experienced by some when exposed to art, particularly very moving art. A very apt name indeed as the festival experience is something quite extraordinary!
Its incredible success in the few short years since its conception is no doubt due to its all inclusive nature and the sheer volume of bands, singers, installations, workshops and displays. Stendhal is not just for lovers of rock music, or budding artists, or children, or dancers...Stendhal is a unique weekend that can be enjoyed by absolutely everyone! Local drama lecturer Helen McGonigal has been attending the festival since it started in 2011 and told us why she thinks this start-up it has been such a fantastic success.
“It’s like no festival i’ve ever attended before, the setting is so unique and I think it’s brilliant how it encourages so many different people to engage and interact with the arts. There really is something for everyone to get involved with over the weekend. But what I find most impressive is the attention to detail that the organisers have, from the beautiful secret garden to the enchanting Karma Valley the festival really looks the part... it’s like you’ve walked into a page from Alice in Wonderland”.
Helen is not alone in her praise of the festival, in fact it has gained such acclaim since 2011 that it has grown from a little known pop-up festival to one of Northern Ireland’s leading cultural events. Testament to this is the huge increases in attendees which they have seen over the past few years, from 1200 in year one to an anticipated 4000 this year!
On top of its own fantastic success Stendhal is also helping other start-up businesses to realise their potential by setting up in its craft market. Here local people and start-up businesses have the opportunity to showcase and sell their products to the huge variety of people that pass through the event. Very impressive stuff!
Hats off to everyone involved for making such a success of the Stendhal Festival of Art and best of luck for this years event!
It just goes to show that with a good idea, a great team and lots of hard work there is no telling what can happen!
If you live in Northern Ireland and are interested in culture / festivals / technology - you might like our previous post on a Sneak Peek atCulture Tech 2013
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