10 Questions With... Body & Soul Founder, Avril Stanley


Festival season is in full swing with Body & Soul right around the corner. We ask Body & Soul founder Avril Stanley whats in store this year for Ireland’s best independent music and arts festival.


Avril Stanley

How did Body & Soul come about?

The idea originally came to me on a make-shift dancefloor in the Nevada desert at Burning Man around 15 years ago. It has evolved over the years starting really as part of the Big Chill in the UK, then we got involved with Electric Picnic and from there grew Body & Soul in its current guise as a stand-alone independent festival. That was five years ago now! It’s a modern take on an age-old ancient tradition of the celebration of the Summer Solstice.

What makes Body & Soul stand out from other festivals?

The festival has sold out the last four years because Body&Soul is an entire experience. We’re into the little things that make a festival great. It’s set among a 15th Century walled garden and woodlands of Ballinlough Estate and has a broad and brilliant eclectic musical lineup, an inspirational art trail, spoken word and debate, decadent dining and culinary feasts. It’s a place where like-minded people come to explore and lose themselves to the weekend experience. It appeals as much to fans of electronic music as to nature lovers, to families with young kids as to the 30 ‘somethings’ that like the finer things in life. In a nutshell it’s Gramophone Grooves. Acoustic Sessions. Marshmallows on a Bonfire. Twinkling Pathways. Rejuvenating Massage. Disco Yurts. Woodland Wonderings .Moonlight Masquerade. Electronic Alcoves. Candlelit Spoken Word. Four-Poster Picnics. Flamboyant Spectaculars. Teacups at Breakfast. Decadent Dining. It’s a festival full of Surprises!


Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform this year?

‘Darkside’ live at Body&Soul on Friday night in the Midnight Circus. Its Nicolas Jaar’s new partnership with guitarist Dave Harrington, and he continues to be (in my very humble opinion) one of the most exceptional (23 year old!) electronic producers out there. But there is a rather exceptionally juicy line up over the entire weekend that includes the likes of GoldFrapp, Caribou, John Grant, Gary Numan and Jon Hopkins.


What is your favourite memory from Body & Soul?

I remember in the first year standing in the wings of the main stage, which is an art installation built (a permanent feature at the festival) by the amazing Irish artist Christy Collard and watching hundreds of people just rocking it out in the sunlight with like minded-people with not a care in the world. Groups, individuals, kids, families, old, young, …That was a special ‘stand-out’ moment for me.

Any surprises in store this year?

Lots of surprises – but you have to come for the reveal!


With such amazing stages and woodland art installations, how long does it take to set up the site?

We start our planning for the festival each year in October and about six weeks in is when the build starts in earnest… it’s pretty intense but a great experience to be part of it!

Besides the big acts, is there any new artists we should check out this year?

Nick Waterhouse, Tom Vek, Slow Magic, Hermigervill, Jessy Lanza and September Girls

And besides the music acts, what else is there to do at Body & Soul?

* Previous Body&Soulers will know that its annual open-air Masquerade Ball is the Saturday Night “must-attend” event with revellers donning full costume to its ever-changing themes. This year’s flavour is “The Wild Card”
*The Decadent Dining and Fantastical Long-table Feast in an Indian tent of chandeliers, wild flowers and lavish décor within the walled gardens.
*A brand new comedy, trad and bluegrass tent called the Good Times Lounge will be a giggle for the gathering.
*The return of our most inspirational world renowned Burning Man artist Shrine…. His work is just brilliant.
*And finally celebrating 5 years of Body&Soul with 8,000 people who have joined us for the mother of all celebrations on the weekend of the summer solstice! It’s going to be very special this year.

What would be your top tip for surviving the festival season?

Just enjoy each moment, take it all in and don’t try to rush the experience. It’s an adventure – just leave the routine of your daily life at the gate!

Give us the three artists/bands that you’d love to see play Body and Soul?

Kate Bush, David Bowie and John Lennon…. I have my fingers crossed for a couple of them sometime in the future!




For ticket information visit BodyandSoul.ie.

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