‘Festivals of the future will be a hybrid of virtual and physical’ — Sorcha O’Reilly, artistic director of Kaleidoscope Festival

Kaleidoscope Festival artistic director Sorcha O’Reilly thinks festivals will return next summer — just not exactly as we remember them 


As the artistic director of Kaleidoscope Festival, Sorcha O’Reilly knows a thing or two about the Irish festival landscape. 

The Dubliner has worked in the live events industry for almost two decades, spanning everything from music and arts festivals to rock concerts to science fairs.  

Sorcha was involved in the earliest inception of Electric Picnic back in 2004 and for many years afterwards. Today, she’s at the helm of Kaleidoscope Festival, Ireland’s first ever music and arts camping festival for families.

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“The concept was created over a number of years and it came out of a lot of thought and consideration,” she explains. 

“We’re all festival people who’ve done festivals for years and we really could see that there were a lot of parents out there who, like us, really wanted to see something a little bit different and a little bit more geared towards the whole family experience.”

kaleidoscope festivalSorcha O'Reilly. Photo by Sharon Murphy

 

The inaugural Kaleidoscope Festival took place last year, welcoming 15,000 people (young and old) to Russborough House, Blessington. 

The three-day event received rave reviews, both from parents and the press, and the organisers were gearing up for an even bigger and better year two.

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Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 social distancing measures, this year’s Kaleidoscope Festival will no longer take place this summer and will be moved online instead. 

“The interesting thing is that the capacity will be quite significantly larger," says Sorcha. "It will probably be 100,000+ that will attend Kaleidoscope online.

“And then, next year, what we’ll have is a hybrid of both. You’ll be able to attend virtually and physically. That breaks down borders and creates much more accessibility and makes the event quite global.

“The future will be a balanced hybrid between virtual and physical — and there are huge benefits to that.”

Sorcha thinks festivals and concerts will return next summer but in a slightly different guise. “We will always want to gather," she says. "We will always want to connect with each other.

"But I think there will be this really exciting additional part to that, which will be very beneficial for customers and also for people investing in the festival side of things.”

Kaleidoscope Festival is a joint collaboration between Festival Republic, The Tenth Man and Fuel, formerly known as Event Fuel. 

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Sorcha works for Fuel, which has shifted its focus in recent months to become Ireland’s first hybrid agency. They now focus on online employee engagement and brand marketing services, helping companies navigate the new normal and “develop a strategic roadmap for their return to the hybrid future ahead”. 

Pre-Covid 19, the team at Fuel were gearing up to open a 600-capacity corporate and cultural venue — the first of its kind — on Camden Street later this summer. 

They've since turned the project on its head, and reimagined the space into a multi-room studios from which to broadcast virtual events, produce branded content and record podcasts.

“We’ve done quite a bit of it over the last month or so, so we’ve walked into all the pitfalls and figured it all out. It’s really running very, very well in there."

Fuel will mark their rebrand on Friday 22nd May with a free multi-disciplinary webinar ‘Fuel the Future’, featuring former Ireland rugby team manager Mick Kearney; economist, journalist and writer David McWilliams; VP EMEA Customer Solutions PayPal Annette Hickey and manager of The Coronas Jim Lawless. 

There will also be a special performance from musician Danny O’Reilly, lead singer of The Coronas.

The experts will discuss their thoughts on how to navigate this new terrain and the future of the economy and the event will be highlighting the work of and raising much-needed funds for homeless charity Depaul.

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To find out more and register for the event, visit https://www.fuelhq.ie/fuel-the-future.

Kaleidoscope Festival is on Instagram 

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