After 60+ hours a week working, is there anything better than escaping the city and experiencing nature and all its raw beauty? At IMAGE, we're lucky our offices sit right beside the sea. Any brain fog that builds up over a day of getting our creative juices flowing can be cleared with a walk on the harbour and a few gentle deep breaths. But it isn't as straightforward for people working in the heart of a crowded city. For those of you immersed in the hustle and bustle, a brand new kind of festival launches in Ireland today that will help you escape your routine for one weekend and give you a taste of a healthier, happier outdoor life.
Taking place during the August bank holiday weekend, August 4-5, the 53 Degrees North Adventure Festival – the first adventure festival to launch on the island – is a chance to reconnect with nature, unearth a new passion and meet like-minded people, all while surrounded by some of Ireland's most beautiful scenery.
There's so many music festivals right now (you could go to one festival every weekend from April to September if you really wanted to), but what Ireland is really missing is a spotlight on the outdoors, and 53 Degrees North want to change that: "There's no need to go to mainland Europe or New Zealand to take part in adventure sports anymore because they're available right on your doorstep," says Ben Finnegan, marketing and e-commerce manager at 53 Degrees North. "We wanted to create our own event and experience where customers – whether they're the hardcore outdoor enthusiasts or they enjoy walking the dog alone on the pier – can come together and experience something new."
There are three ticket options available for the weekend: weekend camping (€195, which includes a free two-man Vango tent), a standard weekend ticket (€100) and individual Saturday and Sunday day tickets (€75 each). Right now, there are more than 31 different adventure activities available to try over the weekend, including kayaking, water-skiing, paddle boarding, hillwalking and wakeboarding. These larger events need to be pre-booked in advance of the festival, but are included in the cost of the weekend and camping ticket price. A camping pass will give you access to four larger activities, while standard weekend and day passes give you access to two large activities. Once you're at the festival, though, all activities are completely free.
The camping element of this festival shouldn't put you off, which Ben stressed, and won't mirror the typical camping experiences of other Irish music festivals: "We'll have staff available to help pitch your tent and get you comfortable. We really want to make the camping element part of the experience and something to enjoy. To make your first night even better, we've organised a film festival hosted by Kendal Mountain Film Festival with big outdoor screens, a campfire, popcorn and whiskey by Glendalough Distillery. It's a nice way for people to relax and settle in before the activities start first thing Saturday morning." Based on our previous Electric Picnic horror stories, we're already sold on this one.
The festival, which is sponsored by Wicklow Tourism and Failte Ireland, hopes to help eliminate our growing pub culture and instead opt for a healthier alternative. "We want people to try something new – like axe throwing or kite surfing – and by the end of the weekend, they'll have ignited a new passion for a hobby they never thought was possible," says Finnegan. Organisers are putting a key focus on channelling mindfulness and wellbeing too, and slowing down for one weekend. "There's something really peaceful about being outdoors. We want people to take time out to appreciate the environment around them," Finnegan continues. He hopes that people will go back to work feeling re-energised and invigorated after a weekend of nature and clean air; which are the building blocks of achieving happiness and well-being, according to science.
Who knows? You might come away from it as Ireland's best axe-thrower...