Art and Design / May 29, 2023

Everything You Need To Know About Body & Soul 2023

Image Credit: Body & Soul
Art and Design / May 29, 2023

Everything You Need To Know About Body & Soul 2023

Words: Dray Morgan

We’ve got the only guide you need to make sure you make the most of one of summer’s essential festivals.

Body & Soul is on the horizon. Festivities kick off on June 16 and on top of great music, the festival at Ballinlough Castle has routinely delivered unforgettable arts and culture programs that provide the opportunity to discover new and unique creative experiences. With the festival just over two weeks away, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to the can’t miss activities and areas throughout the weekend.

Navigating the music lineup

The day by day breakdown has arrived. It’s time to start making the schedule to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Expect to be running from Kokoroko to Denise Chaila to Moderat. Engulf yourself in the rural energy of Ballinlough with some Junior Brother and then transport yourself straight to Paris with The Blaze.

One of the best things about B&S is exploring the castle ground and familiarising yourself with the stages. This year, the festival boasts five stages alongside a multitude of community-lead initiatives.

Acts like Moderat, The Blaze and Kokoroko can be caught on the Body & Soul stage which often houses the high profile acts from its meticulously curated lineup.

If you’re searching for some of the Irish talents who are the pillars of this country’s hip hop scene, then you need look no further than the Hennessy Hip Hop House. Catch the likes of Gemma Dunleavy, Negro Impacto, JyellowL and more.

But it isn’t just Irish performers who will be gracing the stages over the weekend. BCUC (Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness) joins many other international acts bringing a worldwide depth of culture and acts you’ll seldom see anywhere else in Ireland this summer. BCUC rehearses in a shipping container-turned-community restaurant, situated just a stone’s throw away from the church where Desmond Tutu organised the escape of Soweto’s most wanted anti-Apartheid activists. They’re just one of the storied acts sharing their unique journey through music this summer.

Elsewhere, Cabin in the Woods presents a setting reminiscent of the back-country. It’s workshops by day and DJs by night and you can enjoy a carefully curated line-up that’s sole mission is to get you moving in the sticks, before it transforms at dawn to become a creative space for conversation and creation.

Delve deeper into the grounds and you may stumble across The Secret Orchard. A pantheon of panels, comedy, arts and of course music.

And how could we forget the Beacon Sound System. A towering structure, visually unique on the festival landscape. Home to the Pagan Rave as well as a list of DJs. This 30ft centre for dance promises a “360 degree audio-visual experience”.


Good food is on hand to fuel your exploration across the weekend. Chefs Tom Arnold & Tom Hayes are amongst the highlights of the festival’s offerings, with freshly made seasonal cooking prepared over a naked flame. Their menus will be created with as little intervention as possible, serving fresh produce in each course with a wine pairing by Brian O’Connor of Brian’s Wines.

For the hopeless romantics out there, blind dates are being hosted in the walled garden of the castle. “First Tastes”, gives an opportunity for like minded individuals to converge and experience the festival in tandem.

A Laugh or Two

There’s a million reasons to go to a festival, but a through line to nearly everyone’s pilgrimage is an opportunity to break from routine. On top of being able to experience music with friends in naturalistic settings, the festival also has aerial acrobats, masquerade balls and drag aerobics on site. If you are in need for fresh inspiration for new hobbies and interests, here’s your chance.

Comedy is the perfect palette cleanser for anyone looking for a circuit breaker from the rat race. Renowned stand up comedian David O’Doherty joins a stacked line-up alongside the likes of Killian Sundermann and Michael Fry.

Elsewhere, live podcasts give a gateway into opening entertaining and important conversations. I’m Grand Mam, is hosted by Kevin and PJ who explore their personal expereinces of being Irish ex-pats and growing up as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Invaluable Conversations

If you want to lean further into the hip hop world on the genre’s fiftieth birthday, then you can attend ‘The Story Of Irish Hip Hop’. Hip hop and electronic music artist Arveene will be exploring the rich history of hip hop in Ireland. Via music and chats, Stevie G will also walk through a timeline of notable moments in the Irish hip hop scene and the various people who have contributed to the culture historically. From Scary Eire, Sir Henrys, 3rd Eye Surfers, The Dmc Scratch championships, the early days of breakdancing and more.

Elsewhere, you can throw yourself into active conversations and live podcasts. Amanda Adé is spearheading “Sounds of the Underground”,  a creative experience curated to spotlight creators and people making moves in the Black and mixed race Irish community. With a range of experiences on offer including live poetry, music performance and art installations, Adé has provided an opportunity to learn and take inspiration from underrepresented communities.

Radio veteran Louise McSharry will also be appearing and talking through her expereinces as an authorn and as a creative for in radio for over 20 years.

Ambient Atmospheres

Throughout the grounds, forests and fields, vibrant and unique artworks are widespread. Combining colour movement and sound which gives a dynamic experience throughout the natural day cycle of the solstice.

Simon O’Reilly is a composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, music video maker and cofounder of Hedge School festival. He has composed scores for award winning works and will be creating the sound of the solstice with ‘The Ambient Room’.

Simon Cullen and Kev Freeney are also tasked with creating an ambient atmosphere through sound. Described as chaotic “attempting to draw focus on slowing down and bringing attention to the processes ongoing within the body”. 

Wellbeing First

Body & Soul rewrites the festival climate by ensuring that their attendees have the opportunity to relax. If you feel like you may need some time out, then head to get a massage from some of Ireland’s top masseuses. Want to keep your body moving? Dip your toes into a yoga class or even a rhythmic dancing group.

‘Earthing into the Medicine’ is a curated fusion of Movement, Massage Medicines led by Dani and Jen. This a seasonal workshop that aims to educate & empower others by discovering the nuances of native irish herbal medicines.

Conor Creighton is a former reporter for Vice magazine and the Guardian who changed paths in life and discovered Vipassana meditation. Here he is hosting a contemporary meditation session giving a mental Oasis in the bustle of a festival.

Get closer to nature through drum circles, sound baths, eco-sensual yoga alongside a variety of other activities to keep you grounded during your stay around the castle.

There are a litany of gems of culture and enjoyment to be found throughout the grounds. Take the road less travelled and find something new.

Body & Soul begins on 16 June throughout the Ballinlough Castle grounds in Westmeath. Grab your tickets here.

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