- 17 Apr 23
Forever Young Festival will take place from July 14-16 at Palmerstown House Estate, Co. Kildare.
The fastest-growing festival in Ireland is returning with a bang for its third edition. Stepping back in time on July 14-16 at Kildare’s beautiful Palmerstown House Estate, 2023’s Forever Young Festival's line up features some of the 1980s’ greatest artists. Why not relive your youth for three days in style? Erasure’s Andy Bell alongside UK pop duo Bananarama are set to headline the festival alongside and a mysterious, soon-to-be-announced Friday night act (see panel for the full mouthwatering line-up).
“We wouldn’t normally have an artist from the previous year back this quickly, but it’s a special occasion - Bananarama’s 40th anniversary tour!” she smiles, speaking from her home in Co. Laois. “They put on a brilliant show last year. So many people wrote to us afterwards and said, ‘We’ve got to have Bananarama back!’. And with Neville Staple from Fun Boy 3 joining us, it will be extra special.
With on-site camping and luxury glamping, campervan and caravan pitches, the comfort of the weekend is unmatched. For those who can’t or won’t camp, an array of hotel packages and transport options take all the hassle and confusion out of booking your weekend.
Each year, folks bring their camping chairs, reunite their old gangs and feel forever young over the weekend, watching over 30 iconic original bands from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s”. This year includes Billy Ocean, ABC, Tony Hadley, Go West, Soul II Soul and many more. These artists are at their peak, with most celebrating 40 years in the business, and sound better than ever.
With high end flushing toilets and hot showers, glamping with home comforts – including beds, duvets, power, pamper parlours, golf buggies that give lifts around the site – there is an experience to suit all requirements and budgets. This mixtape school disco weekend is not by any means only for the festival crowd. It’s all killer, no filler, with era-defining hits for all tastes, all day.
“I wanted to launch a new animal welfare charity, I noticed that Ireland didn’t have any ‘80s festivals. I’ve been to loads - they’re brilliant fun, I thought it would make the perfect fundraiser” Festival founder Dr Sharon Alston recounts. “They give people an absolute shot of something money can’t buy: to lift people up and make them feel young again."
The Forever Young Festival started with a bang. In its first year in 2019, the event won awards for “Best Medium-Sized Festival” and “Best Lineup”in its first outing. Post lockdown, in July ‘22, attendees adored the opportunity to finally get out and party in the sun.
“Forever Young 2023 will have a bigger stage, VIP, Gold and late night areas, and more entertainment than you can shake a shamrock at. We’ll be showing the All-Ireland semi-final matches in the Big Top tent, so you won’t miss a single thing.” The Forever Young team are always on hand to help with any queries, adding a nice personal touch to the fun.
A festival with a heart and a conscience, Alston is proud to partner with two important charities.
“The festival was set up to provide funds for a new animal charity, Animal Welfare and Veterinary Care Ireland, but ISPCA is our charity partner on site,” says Sharon, herself a veterinarian. “All the collections and donations on-site benefit ISPCA Ireland, but all sales profits are donated to AWVCI, a new charity providing national low cost veterinary care as there is no national provision for this. These clinics are desperately needed. We have our first site lined up if we raise enough money after this year’s festival. We aim to have five hospitals across Ireland in five years.”
Alongside outstanding tribute acts filling in the breaks between artists, the ‘Stars in their Eyes’ competition is returning this year. Festival-goers submit an audition tape in the hopes of performing their karaoke classics with a live band.
“I will not be singing! But if I did it would be an Alison Moyet song,” Sharon grins. “The entries just amaze me. It was so hard to whittle it down to the acts we had on stage 2 over the weekend. The standard was just incredible.”
Alston has her own links to the music industry, having been immersed in the gig scene as a teenager herself - while her dad has a connection to none other than Paul McCartney.
“I was quite a wild child. I went to see loads of gigs and bands while I worked as a vet nurse at the time,” she laughs. “My dad was a Liverpudlian. He moved to London and worked as a door-to-door salesman in insurance. He landed a good job in a company where he grew his portfolio and ended up with clients like the FA Cup and Paul McCartney!
“I grew up going to see Paul McCartney and Wings from a very young age, that was the music heritage I grew up on, but I was animal mad. Now I’m working with all the guys who were on my wall as a teenager: Nick Heyward, Nik Kershaw, Tony Hadley, Marti Pellow helping save animals, perfect!”
Forever Young Festival effortlessly stands out (not just because of the neon leg warmers!) from the crowd, with an unrivalled atmosphere of craic among the acts and the attendees.
“These guys are so normal and just lovely to work with,” Alston offers, praising the attitude of her acts. “We are posting weekly video interviews with our artists this year on our socials, where I ask the bands questions posted by our audience, it’s a lovely feature. Back in the day you could read what they wrote in Smash Hits, or see a bit they said on MTV, but that was it. To be able to bring people closer to their favourite stars is really special in this day and age.”
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Forever Young Line Up 2023
Erasure’s Andy Bell
Soul II Soul
Cry Before Dawn
From the Specials -
From The Jam
Stray Cats -Slim Jim Phantom
Heaven 17’s Glen Gregory
Propaganda’s Claudia Brucken
Lotus Eaters Peter Coyle
The Farms Peter Hooton
M- Robin Scott
Read the full Forever Young Festival spread in the new issue of Hot Press.