It's been a vintage year for small festivals in Ireland. In June, the Body & Soul festival, with headliners including Caribou and the brilliant John Grant, increased ticket allocations by 30 per cent and still sold out early.
Last weekend, the small independent Knockanstockan festival, with views of the Blessington Lakes in one direction and the Wicklow Mountains in the other, also made more tickets available than ever before - and sold out for the first time in its eight year history. Such was demand that, with some undisguised glee, roadside display boards popped up imploring people with no tickets to stay away (as it turned out, it seemed like an endless surge of people trying to sneak in over the two days).
This summer, there's been strong demand for sold-out surf, skate and music festival Sea Sessions; a solid crowd at the Westport Festival; and a growing interest in the upstart Mountain Dew festival, billed as a little family-run festival in the countryside and, by all accounts, full of heart, imagination, and great music.
This weekend, it's the turn of Castlepalooza in Co. Offaly and the Indiependence festival in Co. Cork. Both started in 2006. Despite a large crossover of acts, and the two festivals targeting the same audience among a small population, the clash doesn't seem to be a problem: at time of writing, both were well on the way to being sold out.
I've never been to Indiependence, so I should point out that if it seems unfair to focus on its main rival, my reasons for going to Castlepalooza are all positive: I'm not comparing the two.
Castlepalooza has always been a friendly festival, set in the grounds of the very atmospheric Charleville Castle, and with an eclectic mix of music and arts. And I love festivals that are small enough for you to happily wander away from your friends, have adventures with strangers, discover new music, and bump into your friends several times again.
I'm looking forward to Castlepalooza, very much. Here are five acts that you really shouldn't miss.
We Cut Corners
Possibly the biggest Irish name playing this year. If you haven't seen them before, see them now.
Yes, the question mark is deliberate. A hugely popular act at the Mountain Dew festival in June. My highlight of Knockanstockan and easily set to be one 2014's breakout acts, these fantastic performers put on a stunning live show and have carved out a very particular visual image. With a mix of electric guitar, bass, electric violin, drums, synths, and effected vocals their show is - I don't say this lightly- unlikely to compare to anything you've seen or heard before.
That's t-doubleV-ins. Ahem. This collaboration between Cast of Cheers frontman Conor Adams and Lar Kaye of Adebisi Shank, while their respective bands are "on a break", has produced two flawless electro-synth-rock songs.
A blogger's favourite building up a head of steam with strong radio play throughout 2014.
For the maths rockers.
These are just my picks, and five is a very small list. Please feel free to add suggestions.