It’s that time of the year again when thoughts turn to a big white tent that sells the best of German beer!

Luckily that big white tent has arrived in Newry and is being set up while we speak, all ready for the grand opening of Newry Octoberfest 2017, this Friday 20 October at 5pm.

This year the festival has moved to a new home at the Albert Basin (so please don’t start queuing at last years venue!) and this time there's double cause for celebration with the beer running freely over two weekends from 20-22 and 27-29 October.

Oktoberfest Newry the 'baby' of Graeme Finegan of Grounded and Finegan and Son fame, was started in 2012 as a way of giving a shot in the arm to the night time economy by “bringing a bit of life” to Newry. 

250 attended the first year and with others on the wrong side of the gates, it snowballed with people talking about it for months. As Graeme says "People enjoyed themselves, were laid back and could let their hair down in a manner they couldn’t in Newry before that."

Every year from that, numbers have grown and grown. Oktoberfest took a break in 2016 and this year the festival plans to cater for around 6000 people over the two weekends.

On the stress that goes with it leading up to the event Graeme comments “I sleep like a log any other time but when it comes to Oktoberfest it does be 4 or 5 O’Clock in the morning

The first Newry Oktoberfest in 2012. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The first Newry Oktoberfest in 2012. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

“This year we have to make it more feasible for ourselves. We’ve got it over two weekends, Friday Saturday, Sunday”

The now annual beer run takes place this opening Friday night at 7pm. As Graeme says “It’s a lap essentially around the town, you’ll be back in 30 minutes if you’re any way good .. or if you’re like me you’ll be back in an hour and a half!”

With the bar closing at 10.30pm and all out by 11pm each night the plan is that it will be a springboard to the local nighttime economy, the very reason the festival was started in the first place.

Speaking of the potential benefit to Newry city Graeme said “We hope that this transfers to an average spend of £30-£40 per head into the local economy because we close the event early, 10.30 the bar closes, 11 is out time, and we hope that those 6000 people over those six nights will be frequenting local nearby restaurants, takeaways, taxi firms and other bars"

Graeme concluded “This is what the festival was started for. It was for the nighttime economy and it’s still at the core of what we are doing with the festival, to promote nightlife in Newry, because at the minute it seems to be a bit stale or something, There are people trying different things and we hope this can be part of it.”

The Oktoberfest tent get assembled this week at the Albert Basin. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The Oktoberfest tent get assembled this week at the Albert Basin. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Dates and Entertainment

Friday 20 October 5pm - 11pm 

Doghouse Belfast

“We’ve got a band from Belfast, a ten piece band, plenty of trumpets, plenty of trombones, Saxophone, singing, dancing. They love the music of Madness. I think they’re a perfect fit for Oktoberfest, they’re really going to get the crowd going and it’s going to be an immense night.”

Saturday 21 October 4pm - 11pm

Electric Circus

"A fairly new band on the scene with some of the previous band members in Hair O' the Dawg, regular visitors to Oktoberfest."

Sunday 22 October 4pm - 11pm

Cold Porter

Friday 27 October 5pm - 11pm

The Willing Fools

"Amazing band, crazy, absolutely bonkers and a perfect fit for Oktoberfest"

Saturday 28 October 4pm -11pm

Whole Lotta Voltage

“I’m really looking forward to it. we’ve got the best ACDC tribute band in Ireland. They’ve been endorsed by Angus himself

Sunday 29 October 4pm - 11pm

Abuse Your Illusion - Guns N Roses tribute band.

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