On this day last year, I drove to Co. Westmeath with a few of our kids to meet my partner Christy at Ballinlough Castle. Body & Soul Music and Arts festival was celebrating its 10th year. Christy has worked there since the beginning and built both of the main stages. Every year he maintains the permanent wood structures and creates new art installations.

His work is always finished before the festival begins on Friday afternoon so that we can enjoy the weekend together. I generally arrive on Thursday evening to avoid all of the traffic and settle in before the crowds arrive. Each year we look forward to the midsummer celebration as the solstice approaches.

We should be there now. Sadly, it is one of the many events which have been canceled because of the pandemic. Loss of income is one thing, but we are also missing out on the chance to catch up with friends from other parts of the country (and the UK). I can’t help but feel disappointed this weekend.

Body & Soul is one of my favorite Irish festivals. I love the setting (the castle grounds are beautiful), the colorful art, the creativity and flamboyance of the crowd, the variety of music, and the delicious food. We always schedule in a romantic, candlelit seaweed bath in the woods. We often book relaxing massage treatments in the healing area and sometimes squeeze in a yoga workshop or listen to an inspiring talk.

Christy lets his hair down a bit, though he’s usually working on some level. Even when he’s supposed to be “off,” he spends time designing in his imagination, considering land management (making sure the trees aren’t being damaged in the wooded area), and helping others who may need it. I generally assume responsibility for any children with us, but we do try to take turns so I can get a break too.

Here are some fun photos from last year. Christy created the wood arch behind me and Blessing on the 3rd photo, top row. He has played drums professionally in several bands. While wandering in the woods, we came across a group who welcomed him to join them. Instant new friends were made (4th photo, top row). Last year Christy and his crew also created the orange “UFOs” (2nd & 4th photos, third row).

As you can see in some of the photos we needed wellie boots and waterproofs on Sunday. It started raining on Saturday night and by the following day some of the fields no longer had grass. It was one big mud pit.

My only consolation about this year is that the weather is even worse! Our long dry spell has come to a dramatic end. A heavy downpour started this morning and hasn’t stopped. Even though we usually enjoy the comfort of a caravan in the core crew camping- rather than a tent in the main camping area- it would still be damp and a bit miserable in this chilly, wet weather.

All is not lost however! The Solstice Sessions are available today and tomorrow. Pop over to the website to download your own DIY festival guide. Set up a speaker and enjoy some tunes with your closest friends and family from the comfort of home!

We’re teaming up with Isolation Station Radio to bring you a Solstice Session featuring the best of Body&Soul’s favourite DJ’s and live acts providing a sonic backdrop to DIY festivals all over the island, and the globe. The rest is up to you!

Sunday’s ‘Soul Sessions’ will be streamed live from 10am offering the perfect wind-down to your solstice weekend. Yoga. Meditation. Ritual. Aerial performance and live music. Spoken word. You & Yours.

Body & Soul

Yes, yes, and yes!! Sign me up! How will you spend the Summer Solstice? One thing is for certain… we still need to make space to have some fun! There has been so much to worry about over the last few months. I welcome the chance to have a little escape and remember that life should be celebrated. Whatever you do this weekend, I hope it fills you with joy!

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