A BIG top tent, with a magical appearance. Such is the description of the Magic Cristal Spiegeltent, which will be an ornate beacon of activity for Culture & Chips this weekend.
The festival returns this June Bank Holiday weekend, with a top line-up of music acts and a strong emphasis on food – as befits its title.
Central to the event is the Culture & Chips culinary banquet, cooked by chef Paul Williams of Canteen – who trained with Heston Blumenthal – taking place tonight.
It takes the form of a five course meal with matching beer and wine, plus entertainment in the glorious surrounds of the Spiegeltent, which is larger than last year’s Salon Perdu tent, with capacity for 400 people.
“What I have tried to do is get the best of local produce from small producers,” explained Paul of the meal.
“Last year we went up to Cloughjordan Eco Village and got them to bake a sourdough bread and they have a wood fired oven, with wood grown locally. So we are going to get things like that.
“We have craft beer from White Gypsy, which was made locally, so we are going to try and get local produce. It is all about that.
“It was amazing last year. I think people were a bit apprehensive because the price seemed high, but when the food was included, and the beer and wine and music afterward, it was a real event, people really enjoyed it. It will be fun, it is a fun event,” he added.
Central to the festival is an emphasis on food and entertainment, with the world chip championship also returning, while Bell X1’s Paul Noonan and Gemma Hayes will make an extremely rare outing under their Printer Clips moniker, and Hermitage Green, Eddi Reader, Mick Flannery and the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra will also perform over the weekend.
Patricia Roberts, one of the steering committee behind the festival that debuted for City of Culture, said the appeal of the festival lies in its “niche” status.
“What is different about it is that it is a niche festival, the world chip championship - there is no other such event but in Limerick and having it last year, it created such a buzz in foodie circles,” she said.
“Chips are for everybody, they are all inclusive, we all love them. Creating that was the niche, combined with a serious line-up of entertainment that will retain people in the city. It is coming back bigger and better.”
The team behind Culture & Chips established it last year for City of Culture to provide a weekend of activity on a bank holiday when, in the words of committee member Nigel Dugdale, “typically not much happens in Limerick”.
“We want to give people a region to stay in the city and especially bring people to Arthur’s Quay, which tends to be forgotten.
“We feel we have a brand now and it is established, while in its infancy, over the next four or five years we can really put Limerick on the map for the June Bank Holiday weekend,” he added.
A Homecut Foodie event will take place on Friday, which will see cookery demonstrations by leading local chefs including Limerick Strand Hotel’s Executive Chef Tom Flavin.
The World Chip Championships will again crown a chef or cook worthy to take the title from last year’s inaugural winner, Lema Murphy. That event takes place from 12-4pm.
Various other events are also taking place in the city, including the Barbarians rugby match in Thomond Park tonight, the TomCat Street Festival over the weekend and the Irish Chamber Orchestra’s Viennese Prom in the Milk Market this Thursday and Friday night, which boasts seating for 500 people in a specially created amphitheatre in the venue.
See cultureandchips.com for more details.