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Northern Ireland

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Taps arf at AVA Festival
Taps arf at AVA Festival

Heading over to Northern Ireland, we flew with glee from our London base over the Irish Sea to make our way to AVA Festival, which celebrated its second anniversary this year. Though the event only runs for one day, it combines several elements; a conference, a tech area and an all-out house and techno party, to create Northern Ireland’s very first electronic music festival. We were already familiar with some of Belfast’s best-known artists, coming into contact with people like Bicep, Ejeca, the mighty Timmy Stewart, Jonny Bubba, and several other key players, over the years – so we knew we were in for a treat, hence our joyful flight to the city.

Wild scenes during the AVA Boiler Room
Wild scenes during the AVA Boiler Room

DLTM landed at Belfast International Airport at around 11.30am, after a slight delay to our flight. No bother, we were picked up by local lad Danny Simpson’s dad, no less, and so jumped in the car with Danny, his father and Dublin don Dave Magnier (owner of The House Of Disco). After dropping Danny off home, we were taken straight to the venue in the Titanic Quarter, named after the infamous ship, which was built there.

Bicep talk about their live set up during the conference section of AVA Festival
Bicep talk about their live set up during the conference section of AVA Festival
DLTM's Marcus Barnes interviewing techno pioneer Juan Atkins
DLTM’s Marcus Barnes interviewing techno pioneer Juan Atkins

From the inspired, and inspiring, conference, to the ‘taps arf’, fist-pumping madness of Boiler Room and everything in between, our experience at AVA Festival was unforgettable. The energy of the Belfast crowd was unstoppable, unleashed early in the day at the Boiler Room session (easily one of the broadcaster’s best ever), and consistently high right up until the very end, which, for us, was a pub session on Sunday afternoon straight from the after-party.

The main stage at AVA was intense
The main stage at AVA was an intense spectacle

Belfast has an enchanting spirit, which some of its natives connected to the region’s past troubles. The notion of living for the day and partying to release angst has become ingrained in their approach to going out, and it lives on through today’s generation of clubgoers. But it’s not only that party vibe that makes the city such an exhilarating experience, there’s also the friendly nature of everyone we met – the sense of humour, the helpfulness, the welcoming atmosphere… all the ingredients that separate a decent party from a special one.

A secret squirrel location was used for the after party
A secret squirrel location was used for the after party
Local lad Conner Treacy on the decks at AVA's after party
Local lad Conner Treacy on the decks at AVA’s after party

We could sit here and write about the DJ performances all day long, but what really struck us was all of the above. From the time we landed until Sunday night, when we finally made it to bed, AVA Festival and the relentless positivity that seemed to emanate from everyone we met kept us going. We lapped up every minute, from the crazy dance floor inside the main venue, T13, to the awe-inspiring after-party inside the grounds of a castle.

Perhaps we’re getting a little gushy here, but we mean every word. We can’t wait to go back to Belfast and do it all over again!

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