Musical festival to set sail around the Mediterranean next year
If you've ever shivered and squelched through a muddy field covered in a sea of tents half an hour's walk from the main stages of a festival, you may have had a moment's doubt about the sanity of taking part in every music fan's favourite activity. Even the genteel Glastonbury, with its glamping and fashion-parade attendees, can be hard work if the weather turns.
September 2013 could see a solution for grown-up festivalgoers in the form of the newly launched Offshore Festival, created by Snow Patrol's former manager Keren McKean. The Glaswegian, who grew up going on the paddle steamer The Waverley with her grandfather, has combined her love of the sea and her experience of music to create a floating music festival – the first of its kind in the sunsoaked Mediterranean.
"Venice is where we start, so we leave there on Saturday evening and go to Dubrovnik in Croatia, Athens in Greece, and then Ephesus in Turkey, back to Split in Croatia and then back to Venice," she explains.
"It's seven days, and in that time you have two days at sea and five in port. Whenever people are on the ship there's entertainment, comedy, music; but when we're in port people will tend to go off and wander around, and the bands want to go off for a wander as well."
What's remarkable is just how close guests can get to the bands. With only 2,500 passengers on the ship – Norwegian Jade – you're talking about seriously intimate gigs.
"I think what's unbelievable about it is that even though there's only 2,500 people, you still feel like there are 70,000 people. That's the level of excitement," she says, having experienced the American version of the music cruise.
"You're also up close and personal with bands and you're going to be hanging out with them. On the cruises in the US they're fine to just wander around and people are quite respectful of them, and you end up being more friendly with them rather than star-struck by them."
The question festival purists will ask, of course, is how can you achieve that festival atmosphere on a luxury cruise liner with only 2,500 people – some of whom are staying in £12,500 (Dh72,000) suites with their own hot tubs and butlers? (There are 26 different price points, with budget options starting at £1,399 for a four-bed inner cabin.)
"You would think it's not a festival atmosphere, but it's absolutely mental," says McKean. "You know how on a campsite, everyone's camping next to each other and you just end up best mates with whoever you're next to? That happens exactly the same way, except that it's people in the cabin next to yours. You see all the same people and they're there to party. It's a fantastic atmosphere."
Which leads us to the big question: who exactly is going to be playing? McKean's not telling just yet – the big reveal is on September 12 this year – but she is talking a good game.
"It's a lot of big-name DJs, a lot of big-name comedians and a lot of big-name bands," she says. "It's slightly indie-orientated but still very mainstream. It's definitely going to be bands that you've heard of. We're really looking for acts that create a classic festival experience and that can really put on a show."
With 18 bands, a stage being built over the swimming pool and almost guaranteed sunshine, Offshore sounds like an attractive alternative to a smelly tent in a windy field. And you won't even have to take your own wet wipes.
Tickets for Offshore, which will set sail in September 2013, are on sale now at www.offshorefestival.com
Published: July 30, 2012 04:00 AM