Sunflowers in Bloom

It’s festival season. From the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival to the Belfast Film Festival, there really is something for everyone. However, in the idyllic setting of Tubby’s Farm in Hillsborough, you will find a festival with a difference. Taking place from 5-7 August,  the Sunflower Festival 2016 promises to be an extravaganza bursting with incredible local talent.

To officially launch this year’s line up, festival founders and organisers Michael and Vanessa McGowan, with the help of PR and events guru Michelle McTernan, hosted a preview evening in the apt setting of the Sunflower Bar in Belfast. When I arrived, the bar was already buzzing with people who were lapping up the musical offerings from the super talented Joel Harris. This passionate singer/songwriter certainly set the bar for the evening’s festivities. Next on stage was poet Colin Hassard. From his poem about Banbridge, which was a reimagining of the theme song from ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ with a local angle, to reciting a poem to the beat created by a packet of sunflower seeds, Colin had the crowd hooked with his unique and clever performance. I personally adored his poem about being a ‘culchie’. Being one myself, and now living and working in Belfast, I was delighted to have the rare opportunity to celebrate all things culchie! After a raucous reaction from the crowd, it was time for the last act of the night: How. Ben and Johno Whittington, who make up the band How, are two fabulously entertaining guys whose onstage banter had the crowd amused even before they launched into an impressive repertoire. I hadn’t heard of them before but after such a fabulous showcase, I am definitely now a How fan.

As the crowd spilled out of the Sunflower Bar to soak up the last rays of sunshine in the beer garden, there really was an atmosphere of merriment. As the launch night came to an end, Michael McGowan said, “Remember, the Sunflower Festival is good for you”. He wasn’t wrong,  and with three days filled with such quality acts, I know exactly where I will be heading in August: Tubby’s Farm.

The Sunflower Festival runs from 5-7 August at Tubby’s Farm in Hillsborough. For more information visit:


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