More than 15,000 people have attended the first weekend of the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival – the biggest opening weekend ever, according to organisers.
Country music stars Derek Ryan and Nathan Carter launched the festival at the Marquee, with people from all over Ireland and the UK travelling to the event.
This is the first time an event of this size has been held in Lisdoonvarna since Van Morrison headlined the Lisdoonvarna Festival in the 1980’s.
Marcus White, director of the White Hotel Group said: “The atmosphere in the marquee was mind blowing, it was like being in the Aviva stadium, hard to believe we were in Lisdoonvarna.”
“In the history of festival, this is one of the busiest opening weekends on record. The atmosphere in town was electric – this weekend really puts Lisdoonvarna festival on a whole new level and brought a new generation of young people into the town.
“People travelled me from all over Ireland to see Nathan Carter, who is at the top of his career at the moment.”
Nathan Carter who played a two hour gig on Saturday night, to a packed house, commented that he was blown away by the euphoric atmosphere in the marquee, describing it as ‘epic’.
Derek Ryan who headlined Friday’s gig said: “Hands down, one of the best gigs of my career.”
Businesses around the town benefited from the huge numbers of people in town, reporting a very strong start to the month long festival.
Heather Crowe, owner of the Ritz bar said: “It was a brilliant start to the matchmaking festival it really it kicked off with a bang. I have never so many people especially young people around for the first weekend. It was one of our busiest weekends ever. The marquee was such a fantastic addition to the festival, bringing in a new crowd who wouldn’t normally come to Lisdoonvarna. It would be great to see it back next year.”
Marcus White said: “We had great support from the local community in the run up to this event. Events like this really bring the whole village together. It benefits everyone, hotels, restaurants bars, shops.”
Robert Hurley, organiser of the event: “Events like this don’t just happen you have to make it happen, there has been a lot of hard working behind the scenes over the last 8 months. It has paid off for North Clare. There was not a room to be got anywhere in the local area. Local people are delighted.”
“We are already in negotiations with an even bigger act for next year’s festival. This will put Lisdoonvarna on the map as ‘The’ top venue for country music in Ireland,” he added.
Three international TV crews were in town to capture the atmosphere in town, including the BBC who were filming a travel programme which will be broadcast to 80 million people worldwide in February 2017.
The festival continues for five more weekends before ending with the LGBT weekend on the 7th-9th October.