Belfast Telegraph

Sperrins hills are alive with the sound of music from Northern Ireland's own Woodstock ...

By Connal Young

When Paddy Glasgow coined the phrase "small but massive" to describe his Glasgowbury music festival he could never have imagined how big the annual Sperrins spectacular would become.

Held every year on a remote hillside outside Draperstown, the quirky gathering continues to soar to new heights and is becoming an alternative Mecca for music fans from around the globe.

Each year thousands of music lovers make the annual July pilgrimage up a dirt track to Eagle's Rock to hear the strains of the best in local rock echo around the mountains.

As wellie-clad teenagers mingle easily with more mature music lovers halfway up a peak, the unique appeal of Glasgowbury shines through.

Now in its 11th year, the Glasgowbury festival has blossomed into one the most important summer music festivals in Britain and Ireland, attracting some of the biggest names in local rock.

Despite its international, appeal the man behind the music extravaganza has made sure the festival stays true to its musical roots.

While this year's fiesta will be headlined by acts such as Cashier No9, The Answer, Foy Vance, Boxcutter, Phil Kieran, LaFaro, Mojo Fury, smaller groups hoping for a breakthrough will also get their chance.

A staggering 59 acts spread across five stages will entertain a capacity crowd when the festival kicks off on July 23.

This year for the first time there will even be a special comedy stage.

As usual Paddy Glasgow is looking forward to the eagerly-awaited gig.

He said: "We are hoping to get approval for 5,000 people this year from the local council.

"People coming back to the festival have always told us that they like the smaller event, the intimacy of it, and that is something we are happy to do.

"We are really looking forward to it."

The music guru revealed that interest in the festival is worldwide.

He said: "I got an email from a Canadian woman living in Abu Dhabi.

"She and her husband are going to be coming over this year with her mother.

"They like going to festivals and they are planning on coming to ours. And just like last year we have been contacted by quite a few Americans."

When the festival was first held in 2000 it brought together just 80 people and 12 local musicians to help raise cash for the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

Now, over a decade later the organisation behind the festival is seeking charitable status itself as it continues to support local artists in pursuit of the big time.

Glasgowbury is a non-profit operation and any cash raised is ploughed back into organising workshops and seminars for local musicians throughout the year.

Paddy said: "We are not for profit and we try to promote local music all year around.

"Our goal is to have our own music and arts space in the area and people living locally are keen to have it as well."

The event organiser added that he has no plans to make the festival substantially bigger. He said: "About 600 bands submitted their CDs this year and we would like to thank them all.

"We even had people from as far away as Australia getting in touch about the gig.

"We want to stick to our remit going into the future and leave the larger festivals to the large commercial promoters."

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