A party, a Festival, a Palooza!

What is a wedding if not a big party with your family and friends all around?!  No, I’m not dropping a bombshell on you guys…I haven’t run off and secretly tied the knot!  But, last weekend I did celebrate a milestone birthday, by throwing one hell of a milestone bash!

While this blog is all things weddings, I couldn’t resist sharing this with you as there were quite a few comparisons to a wedding for this party-of-all-parties and because I definitely think some of you may get some alternative wedding inspiration!


I am a big festival goer, and I wanted an outdoors festival theme for my 30th.  Working in the industry I do, affords me an insight into some of the best locations and venues in the country and Blackwater Castle in Castletownroche, north Cork fit the bill for me perfectly.

The wow factor of a castle, without the pomp and circumstance.  The space to accommodate  60+ people, without a hotel price tag.  And most importantly the feeling that you were being trusted completely and welcomed wholeheartedly by the castle’s owner, Patrick.  He said he wanted us to treat the castle as our own home, we could move furniture, decorate as we wanted and literally have the run of the place for 3 days!

With the theme decided on and the venue booked we put the word out via an awesomely designed website by the uber-talented Sabrina Dent and voilá Ciarapalooza was a-go-go!

Despite a few random hail showers, the weather held up admirably and allowed us partake in the outdoor activities onsite provided by Blackwater Outdoor Activities center – zorbing, zip lining, clay pigeon shooting and dune buggies – the adrenaline was definitely pumping after them and all were happy to see the BBQ Team rig who had set up onsite and served up gourmet burgers, bratwurst and for the main course a whole BBQ plate, with shoulder of pork which has been cooked for 14 hours, beef brisket, homemade beans and baked potatoes…..mmmm, I’m salivating at the thought of it now! The guests raved about the food, and with the BBQ Rig being such a talking point, many of them gathered outside near the rig and listened to the funky stylings of our resident DJs for the weekend, Dr Herringbone Dread and John Hennessy and Lord Barry Walsh from Sunday Times Soundsystem.

As it was a Crossan-party, naturally costumes were involved and if people didn’t bring their own, we managed to provide a whole costume room for people to get decked out and transform themselves – we had Xena, Falconhoof, Maid Marian and Robin Hood, a Mexican, a 20s flapper, 80’s fitness girls, cleopatra, and many men in dresses!

After the treasure hunt, food and birthday cakes the band came on and rocked the castle! Patrick said to me at one point ” This castle has been standing for over 100 years, I wonder will it still be standing tomorrow!” and we danced and rocked the night away to the wee hours.

I was overwhelmed by the whole event, and really glad that everyone enjoyed themselves.  For people who want a wedding that’s more like a party, a DIY castle event is definitely a winner!

Enjoy a selection of snaps by clicking below…

Venue: Blackwater Castle, Castletownroche, Cork

Food: The BBQ Team

Drink: OnTap.ie

Activities: Blackwater Outdoor Activities

Band: The Hot Blooded Animals

DJs: Dr Herringbone Dread & Sunday Times Soundsystem

Ciara Crossan

Ciara is the Founder and CEO of WeddingDates and has a particular love for quirky & unusual weddings! Considered a wedding venue expert, lucky for her she has visited hundreds of stunning wedding venues all over Ireland and the UK.

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