Stevie G: Cork has great potential for more outdoor gigs

The city is ideally placed to be a great hub for music events, with the new Marina Park - and other great parks - being ideal venues, says Stevie G in his Downtown column
Stevie G: Cork has great potential for more outdoor gigs

The central plaza of the Marina Park would be a good space for outdoor events.

It's 2022, so I’m going to be optimistic and talk about a huge potential positive for the music scene this year. Indoor gigs and events will hopefully be back in a few months, but regardless of what happens, I think we have all seen the massive possibilities for more outdoor events. Cork is ideally placed to be a great hub for such events.

With the backing of the city and county councils, plus other relevant bodies, we are sitting on some big opportunities for the music and arts scenes here.

Marina Park, which opened recently, could surely be utilised for a number of outdoor cultural events. The central plaza, pictured, looks like an ideal place to host gigs and other cultural events, and it is covered, too. Spending time down there last weekend, I couldn’t stop myself from imagining a number of possible family-friendly events that could make spectacular use of the space.

Many artists, bands, singers, DJs, sound engineers, security, and other members of the entertainment industry want to perform, and outdoor shows are more likely to provide a safer environment for everyone, too.

Marina Park will already be hosting the biggest concerts in Cork this summer at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, but from a grassroots level there is a huge opportunity to stimulate the local entertainment industry here, too. The Marina Park project itself is still in its infancy, and a further 60 acres of land is set to be transformed down there with woodland trails and a new playground.

It has the potential to become something special, but even now there’s lot of short-term possibilities and opportunities to create some magic there in the coming months. Let’s face it, this is a time when we all need it.

The nearby markets, such as Marina Market and The Black Market on Monahan Road, have shown that airy open markets are popular, and the area is also walkable for a lot of people living on that side of the water or in the city centre itself. Marina Park now joins Tramore Valley Park as a decent new amenity on the southside and more are needed, particularly on the north and west of the city.

In the west, Ballincollig Regional Park has more potential for further development, while Haulbowline Island now has a recreational park on the east side, by Ringaskiddy. It would be great to have entertainment and events at many of these parks.

Tramore Valley Park can be excellent for walks, but it’s still a little bare at times, and it would be cool to see it used for some shows.

Last year’s Magic Nights By The Lee utilised parks in The Glen, Ballinlough, and Ballincollig, and Fitzgerald’s Park has shown it has potential for both winter and summer shows. Our parks and open spaces are many and I would love to see more events happening in them. In the city centre, we have also seen some cool stuff, such as the outdoor stage for Soul in the City, by Cornmarket Street, and the nearby Test Site project by the Bridewell.

Young people are feeling more alienated in the city these days, and putting on entertainment for the masses will help give us all more of a feeling of civic pride.

Bishop Lucey Park, used really well for Glow, is another under-utilised space. It will be transformed in the next few years and it can be another public space that we can use positively.

Cork has got so much potential for outdoor gigs, and we’ve already seen that outdoor dining has helped bring the city more to life in the last 18 months. Let’s not forget those who run indoor venues, though, and let’s use their expertise when programming outdoor shows and events.

The Good Room, who programme the music at St Luke’s Church, have already shown their expertise doing outdoor music, and Coughlans also ran a festival in Kinsale recently. More collaborations between private and public groups can help enrich things for us all, and it can put more people to work, too. We all need more music and entertainment in our lives, and outdoor could be one of the safest ways for it to happen in 2022.

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