Curated by Bryce and Aaron Dessner, Enda Walsh, Mary Hickon, and the beloved Cillian Murphy, Sounds from a Safe Harbour is a biennial festival that takes place in the heart of Cork city over an awe-inspiring weekend of thought-provoking art, theatre, and music. This year the festival took place between the 12th-15th of September. Over the course of the weekend Damien Rice played a pop up gig in the lobby of The River Lee Hotel, Junior Brother played a free gig in the newly opened Winthrop Avenue, and Feist worked her inexplicable magic in the magnificent setting of the Cork Opera House. Other musical highlights of the weekend included Jon Hopkins’ sold out DJ set in Dali and Caoimhin O’ Raghallaigh & Thomas Bartlett’s stellar show in St. Luke’s.
It is hard to capture what exactly it is that makes this festival so special. With an exceptionally varied and eclectic lineup of acts, the curators of this festival were able to turn a bustling city into what felt like a wide-open field of stunning music-making, dancing, and modern theatre. With great focus on emerging talent as well as left-of-field international acts, the festival promotes the idea of open-mindedness, acceptance, and according to Justin Vernon, it provides a borderline holy experience; “It’s a spiritual fucking thing!” he exclaimed after playing the festival with his band two years ago. There is something quite beautiful about creating a festival that lends itself so perfectly to its location. Cork is a city that is bustling with music, passion, and youthful energy that is crying out for the biggest names in music as well as the most exciting upcoming acts to showcase their talent and share their magic. And that precisely, is what took place over the course of a moving weekend of music.