Bliss Festival is unique in the world, it is the only non-profit Festival that offers space for adults to explore & celebrate sexuality in a location of natural beauty, in an environment free from alcohol & the recreational use of drugs, that offers a holistic approach to exploring sexuality – Sexual Freedom, Health, & Pleasure in Mind, Body, & Spirit. Click here to visit the website and find out more!
‘‘Bliss 2015 was the second Bliss Festival I have been to, & the most positive & joyful event I have ever attended. I will keep on attending & supporting in any way I can, because I believe it is at the cutting edge of repealing our repressed & so called ‘sinful’ society.”
The people who attend the Festival are varied, ages range from late teens to late 60s, people from all over Ireland and as far away as the west coast of the USA & Australia return year after year. People who are monogamous, celibate, & in open and/or polyamorous relationships come to the Festival. People come looking to improve the connection with their partner, to meet new friends, to meet new lovers, to learn about themselves and not engage physically with others at all – there are as many reasons for attending the Festival as there are people who attend! All gender expressions & sexual orientations are welcome, as is everyone over the age of 18 who is willing to abide by our community standards, which boil down to basic respect for oneself & others.
The Festivals have taken place in each of Ireland’s 4 modern provinces, the 1st two were held in Dublin, the 3rd in West Cork, the 4th in Galway, and most recently the 5th was held in Ulster in August 2015. It’s been an important part of the project to bring the Festival, and all that goes with it in terms of local business revenue & simply the energy that the Festival brings & creates, to all four corners of Ireland. Ireland has experienced many events over the centuries that have, sexually & in other ways, scarred the people & culture, the Festival has deliberately been held in or near places where such events have taken place; for example, in 2014 the Festival was held near the largest mass grave of babies & children, nearly 800 in total, from a mother & baby home, & in 2015 the Festival was held at the site of the largest single loss of British military life in the Northern Ireland ”troubles”. It is now our wish to bring Festival 2016 to the ancient province of Mide, ancient home of Ireland’s High Kings, to complete the journey around the island, & to symbolically come to a place of personal & collective sovereignty.
A venue has been provisionally booked, though it is not in the ancient province of Mide it is very suitable, so when the crowdfunding campaign is successful rest assured that a venue has been secured!
We intend for Bliss Festival 2016 to take place August 12th – 15th.
The Festival is a unique mix of experiential workshops, informative talks, educational classes, rituals & ceremonies, as well as the usual Festival fare of fun activities, entertainment & performances, food, as well as products & services to purchase to enhance the Festival experience! It’s important, in fact it’s vital, that the Festival is free from the recreational use of drugs & alcohol – Ireland has a long history of using alcohol in particular as a way to soften the discomfort of dealing with sexuality, amongst many other issues, & it’s our desire to remove this crutch and really deal, maturely, consciously, honestly & openly, with the subject.
”It was a truly amazing experience, challenging and boundary pushing at times but also fun, beautiful and intimate. I have taken so much away and left a lot behind too. I was blown away by the warmth and love I felt for and from so many of the attendees and I feel I have re-connected with myself and with my partner in ways where I hadn’t even realised the connection had frayed.”
Fire performer – Festival 2015
The Festival offers space to people for a wide variety of reasons, some people come to heal past traumas, particularly sexual or relationship traumas, some people come to learn new skills & techniques so that they can enjoy this aspect of ourselves to its’ fullest capacity, some people come simply to make new like-minded friends, others come to explore themselves & know themselves more deeply and to grow, others come to engage with others sexually, there are many reasons people attend the Festival, as many reasons as there are people who attend!
Bliss Ireland Founder & Director, Beth Wallace, speaking at Bliss Festival 2015
The Festival was started by Beth Wallace, Beth has nearly a 30 year history of study, personal exploration & professional practice in the broad field of human sexuality. Beth has worked in the field of sexual health, mostly in the area of HIV/AIDS & Sexual Health, for most of her professional career, her academic background is in Applied Psychology & Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Beth has long walked the edge of what is ”socially acceptable” in terms of sexuality, personally exploring different types of relationships, sexual orientation, sexual activities & behaviours, as well as spiritual paths that place an emphasis on sexuality such as classical & modern Tantra, Wicca, & Taoism. Beth has been outspoken, open, & very publicly honest about her experiences, thoughts, & opinions.
Personally Beth has also been touched by Ireland’s pervasive sexual dysfunction; born in a mother & baby home to an unmarried mother at a time in Ireland when the greatest shame a woman could experience was to be an unmarried mother, she was born into an Ireland that viewed her through a lens of sexual shame. Beth later experienced sexual abuse as a child & rape as an adult woman. All these experiences added together with Beth’s professional education & practice have led her to have a deeply insightful & comprehensive view of sexuality in general but particularly the uniquely Irish context. It is this rich pot of experience that informs & underpins the work of Bliss Ireland.
Beth’s intention for the Festival, and the project as a whole, is to open up conversation & discussion in a mature, adult and honest fashion, about sexuality, about all aspects of it; from trauma, pain, & shame to pleasure, bliss, & ecstasy, and everything in between. Sexuality is often pathologised in our culture, programmes on TV regularly speak about abuse, assault, trafficking, sexually transmitted infections & unplanned pregnancies, but where is the talk of pleasure? where do adults learn how to access & harness this personal power source? where do we learn to maximise our potential for connection & intimacy through our sexual experiences? Sex education in Ireland, as it is in most of the world, is sorely lacking, we are not, in general, even taught the full information about our genital & reproductive physiology, let alone what to do with it all, how to enjoy it or how to enjoy it with someone else! This is what the project as a whole, and specifically the Festival, intends to create space for to explore, express & celebrate.
WHY ARE WE CROWDFUNDING?
We are crowdfunding for two reasons –
The project is a non-profit, some events have not covered costs & some have produced a small profit, which has all in the end balanced out, until this summer…… This summer the 2015 Festival was subject to a sustained attack to prevent it taking place, purely on moral grounds. You can read more of the story by clicking here. Two people took exception to what the Festival was doing & how it was doing it and did all in their power to prevent the event taking place, this was an extremely stressful time for organisers, for Beth in particular who personally takes on the financial risk of every event. The campaign to stop the Festival taking place ended in the Belfast High Court just an hour before gates were due to open to the public. This campaign was unsuccessful in that the Festival did take place, but, it was also successful in that the Festival had to, very significantly, alter many logistical arrangements resulting in massive loss of income for the Festival, and large legal fees in order to ensure a Festival did in fact go ahead.
This very public stand for sexual freedom & personal liberty is one Beth Wallace, Founder & Director of the project, was happy to take, she is clear that she does not regret any action taken to ensure the Festival continued & at the time she willingly did so knowing that it may well cost her a lot of money personally as a result. Beth personally takes on the financial risk of every Bliss event, the Festival was no different, except the cost this time was high, very high, too high for one person to carry alone, which is where our community across the globe of like-minded people, friends old and new, comes in!
We are crowdfunding to:
a) repay Beth the legal fees, & other associated costs she has already paid out of her own pocket, as a result of the action to prevent the Festival taking place, this amounts to approximately €7,000 (€4000 of which has already been raised!) and
b) to gather seed money (which would have been raised through the 2015 Festival Café but was lost due to the High Court case) to ensure that there is a smooth organising of the 2016 Festival, this amounts to €11,000. The total goal for this campaign is €14,000 which translates to approximately £10,000.
If you would like to see Ireland continue to move forward in its’ sexual healing, if you would like to see Beth continue to be a public spokesperson for this work, if you would like to see a Bliss Festival take place in 2016 and the project continue growing from powerful strength to powerful strength, then please contribute to and invest in this project and share its’ story with your friends – this is essential work in the empowerment of our people, not just the people who attend the event but the 100s and 1000s that its’ effects ripple out to in the months & years following each Festival!
Learn more about Beth Wallace by clicking here and more about Bliss Ireland by clicking here, thank you for reading, watching, & engaging with our vision! Your support is deeply appreciated and WILL make a difference to the landscape of how sexuality is explored & celebrated in this powerful land!
You can support the crowdfunding campaign by:
~ contributing to the campaign!
~ sharing the campaign on social media, along with WHY you feel it’s important, and HOW it’s impacted your life if you’ve attended the Festival or any Bliss event
~ sharing the campaign with your networks, your email list, friends, colleagues & anyone you feel may appreciate the project & what its’ aiming to do
~ getting involved in next year’s Festival! updates will be posted on the website in time.
~ joining the Facebook event page here & invite ALL your friends!
(keep reading if you’d like to read more about the impact of the Festival on those who’ve attended)
”Thank you for this year’s Bliss… lives were saved, spirits were set free, and the ancient soul of this wee emerald isle sang high, quite likely not as high since the days of the flight of the Earls… from that hallowed ground that is the north of Eriu.”
”It felt as if were not only healing our own sexual wounds but, given all the media attention, healing Ireland’s as well!”
”Bliss has instantly rocketed me into a much higher vibration of unconditional love. I fell in love with everyone I had the pleasure to connect with and now I am out in the world looking at everyone as my brother and sister.”
”Really glad I went to the Festival, met some lovely people. Thanks for Bliss, long may it reign, looking forward to next year!”
”I connected with so many wonderful new friends and enjoyed spending time with old friends/family. The workshops I managed to get along to where absolutely fabulous. The folk doing the fire displays and music, you were absolutely stunning, thoroughly enjoyed watching each performance. The friendliness and welcome by everyone was great.”