No one saw it coming. No one saw the explosion of popularity that would normally take close to a decade to secure. Appearing to convene upon a non- residential festival in the middle of Dublin, during the often hostile & questionable weather of our fair land, becoming one of the biggest names in the festival calendar. When MCD announced Longitude as a concept, placed on the same weekend as England’s Latitude festival, people were questioning MCD’s money grabbing morals, and were already giving it little chance of success. However, since the disappearance of Oxegen Longitude has become one of the most, if not the most, popular festivals in the county, and typically boasts unquestionably the best line-up of the summer.
News of Longitude first circulated in December 2012. MCD, organizers of Oxegen, were reportedly contacting acts for the festival even before then. Venues reportedly being considered were Fairyhouse Racecourse (Co Meath) & Belvedere House (Co Westmeath). Interest started to grow but at the time people were still holding out hope for Oxegen’s return. In February 2012 the first official line-up was announced, its dates, acts, costs and venues were revealed, and it was to be held in Marlay Park. Marlay Park was not a popular concert venue at the time, and in July 2013 and would have had a capacity of approximately 9,500 people. The inaugural line-up featured big names such as Vampire Weekend, Foals ( who had just played two sold-out shows at the Academy in Dublin), Jake Bugg, The Villagers, Phoenix, a one-of-a-kind 3D set by Kraftwork and, a relatively unknown band at the time of booking, Kodaline. Still no one really took any notice; tickets didn’t sell-out, and were still on sale well into July… then the sunshine started to show up: 2013 had one of the hottest summers on record and Longitude was perfectly situated to take advantage. Suddenly tickets started pouring out the door and the event was soon a sellout. The festival itself, in its inaugural year, was a complete success. With a crowd small enough so that people weren’t being crushed, the atmosphere chilled & relaxed, with many festival goers lying down about 20 metres from the stage to enjoy the music; attendants could easily stroll between stages, stewards were seen dancing, laughing & enjoying themselves almost as much as the paying customers.There was a sense among everyone that attended that this festival was something special, and that they were lucky to be witnessing something so nice. Everyone that attended the very first longitude in 2013 fell in love with it; Longitude was blessed with such amazing weather, and it took full advantage of it.
Word quickly spread about the success of this new festival. People often named it as the highlight of their summer, and with that the festival grew. People were now anticipating the release of the Line- up. Capacity flew up to 16,500 a day, and they needed it, as Saturday tickets were sold out in mid–June. Acts playing included Disclosure, Haim, Masive Attack, Hozier (right at the peak of his popularity, just prior to his album release) , the 1975, Sam Smith, James Vincent McMorrow , Ben Howard and many more. The weather was holding up once again, but not to the same extent as in the previous year, with dark clouds threatening throughout the weekend but never delivering the onslaught many thought they would. Within the festival you could feel the extra 11,000 people: space was at a premium but the sound was so good that music could be heard wherever you sat. The atmosphere was electric throughout, with people laughing wherever you looked. The scenes of delight when Hozier arrived, or Disclosure brought out Sam Smith, were incredible to witness and people danced their way through the weekend.
Once again excitement began to rise from the very first line-up announcement of 2015. MCD were beginning to realise the popularity of the event when it trended on Twitter for two full days when the line-up was announced. The 2015 line-up featured acts such as The Chemical Brothers, Hozier, Alt-J, James Blake, Everything Everything and the Vaccines. Tickets began to sell quickly and once again Saturday tickets were sold-out well before the festival began. Hozier attracted one of the largest crowds of the weekend, following on from his Grammy Nomination & performance with Annie Lennox at the event. Alt- J brought a very different sound to Longitude, which proved incredibly popular, and The Chemical Brothers made everyone simultaneously lose their minds as dance fever took over Marlay Park. The weather didn’t hold, however, with rain falling throughout the weekend. Even the rain, however, could do nothing to dampen the incredible atmosphere & sense of community of the festival.
As soon as the last piece of rubbish was picked from the ground of Marlay Park attention immediately turned to 2016’s event, and the organisers have pulled off their best line-up to date, with a lot of Hip- Hop being featured prominently for the first time. Kendrick Lamar, the Grammy Winning rapper from Compton, whose past two albums are already considered classics, headlines on Friday, with Tyler,The Creator & Action Bronson also coming to our shores that same day. Saturday is headlined by regular hit-maker Major Lazer, with Run the Jewels sure to hype up the crowd, and Sunday will be capped in epic fashion by the National, with Father John Misty & Jamie XX coming before them. Pop also has its place with The Coronas, Chvrches, The Lumineers & Courtney Barnett all set to appear. With that sort of line-up it’s little wonder that Longitude has grown so fast, and how it has developed into one of the biggest events of the summer.