Having set the template for dance music festivals in Ireland with the first and second Homelands Ireland events, Mosney Holiday Centre in Co. Meath would have one last go around in November 2000, as it played host to the inaugural Winter Party.
Hosted by Mean Fiddler, Pod and Influx, the event, which took place on this day (11 November) 20 years ago, saw Sasha and John Digweed headlining proceedings, alongside Darren Emerson, Johnny Moy, Billy Scurry and Col Hamilton.
‘Who says we need the sunshine, or even the summer for that matter, to have a good time?’ as the official press release for the event put it.
‘It’s been said over and over again, how well suited the site in Mosney is for events of this kind, and with that in mind, the people that brought you the sell-out Homelands festivals of 1999 and 2000 bring you this you unique event in a specially constructed heated circus tent’.
“For years now we have tried to put all these acts on the one bill, and when their diaries finally synchronised, we just had to find a venue to suit them all, and what a venue we found,” added Influx’s Johnny Moy.
“Every time you go to a festival in Ireland or wherever, you might see them all in different arena or on different days, but it’s been five years since they all played together in Ireland.”
The event also took place a few weeks after the release of Sasha and Emerson’s Scorchio, one of the stand-out tracks of Ibiza that year and a guaranteed hands-in-the-air stomper.
Commenting on the lineup, the NME’s Eamon Sweeney (tongue firmly in cheek), noted “if this juicy coup had been hosted in just another trendy Dublin nighterie, most of tonight’s crowd would be refused entry on underage grounds, not too mention their penchant for sporting boiler suits luridly emblazoned with Mitsubishi logos.”
Ah yes, the Mitsubishi logos… 🙂
Remarkably, the licence was only granted for the Winter Party a few days before it was due to take place, with Drogheda District Court giving it the go ahead the previous Monday (6 November), following a number of drug arrests at Homelands Ireland the past April.
‘[Judge Flann Brennan] said he did not want a sample searching carried out and added that he wanted it known that everyone entering or leaving the venue would be searched as would those who left and returned,’ the Drogheda Independent reported at the time.
The event itself (at which, the weather was probably better than the aforementioned Homelands Ireland) was a joyous affair, with tracks such as Alan Braxe’s Intro (Running), Josh Wink’s How’s Your Evening So Far?, Plastikman’s Spastik, Underworld’s Kittens, Chemical Brothers’ Out Of Control and the iconic Hardfloor mix of Mory Kante’s Yeke Yeke among those rinsed on the night.
Just a few weeks after the music fell silent, the Mosney site infamously underwent transformation into a direct provision centre for asylum seekers, with owner Phelim McCloskey dismissing fears by locals over the future use of the site.
“We have shown that there are families here who just want to get on with their own lives and when people meet them and word goes back, it eases the fears,” he told The Irish Times in January 2001.
Last weekend, 909originals hosted a special UNDER THE STAIRS DJ set to pay tribute to Winter Party 2000, featuring some of the biggest tracks of the era. You can check it out below.