How to spend the perfect day at the Big Grill festival

Words: Shamim De Brún
Images: The Big Grill/Unsplash

The Big Grill is the food festival all Irish food festivals wish they were. The one that sells out. That attracts the big names and is fire. Literally, everything is cooked over a flame of some sort. You can’t imitate that kind of heat. 

We’ve become obsessed with the Big Grill festival because it’s a food festival with a music festival vibe and a solid aesthetic. I think it could overtake music festivals as the pinnacle of a summer weekend. It’s far more accessible. Not everyone’s cup of tea is going into a field and into a crowd listening to music that may be of different genres. Whereas if you go to a grill festival because you like food. You know you do. We all do.

Friday is the perfect day to hit up the festival. You get to knock off early on a casual Friday and roll straight to a sunny evening barbecue. The ideal way to kick off a weekend. Best of all, you get well fed, no dishes or reservation hassle. Bish bash bosh.

Gates open at 16:30 on Friday, so if you’re working in the city centre, you can get away with bailing at 16:00, strolling up to Herbert Park in the afternoon sun. 

The Big Grill runs from Aug 11 – 14 in Herbert Park, Ballsbridge. Book your ticket here.


Rancho Relaxo and make a POA.

The perfect way to start this festival is to sit back in the new Rancho Relaxo area, soak up the festival atmosphere and decide what you want to eat. Get the lay of the land. See what’s popular. It’s much easier to find what you want to eat when you’re there than to plan it a few weeks in advance. So pulling up a guaranteed seat in the area literally named for its relaxing vibes is the chillest way to get the most out of your festival.

Each ticket includes festival access for your chosen day with fast track entry, exclusive access to Rancho Relaxo & Garden, two complimentary drinks, some posh loos and much more. Tickets are 50 euros each.


Boogie to a brass band

Fresh from performances at Electric Picnic, Beatyard Festival, and Body & Soul, TBL8 will take the stage in Herbert Park on Friday for the Big Grill. Pronounced “Table 8”, these lads are an eclectically-inspired urban brass ensemble. Their tunes are funky, and their vibe is get-up-and-dance. What more could you want for Friday night tunes? 


Hit the Margarita Masterclass

When you’ve got as much grilled meat as you can possibly carry, pop over to Brewcamp for a margarita masterclass. Margs are the ultimate grill cocktail companion. We should all know how to make a quality classic cocktail.

A classic margarita is a deceptively simple concoction of tequila, lime, agave and orange liqueur. Whether you like yours frozen, on the rocks, salt or no salt, sweet or spicy, the margarita is a big, inclusive tent — with a giant umbrella sticking out of it. So why not learn how to make your own from the pros while you munch. 


Enter the Chilli Eating competition

big grill
big grill

We all love Hot Ones. Nearly all of the fun of watching the show is watching the guests lose their minds towards the end, either cursing out the host, Sean Evans or desperately clinging to their composure after eating an alarming amount of Carolina Reaper sauce, eyes watering and all. So why not do it yourself. 

If you’ve always thought, ‘I could do that. It’s not really that hot,’ Friday, August 12 at 19:00 is the time to prove it. So if you fancy yourself as a hottie, get your name down and get involved.


Grab some homegrown talent

There are so many things to eat at Big Grill that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and even a bit lost. But the team behind the whole thing have an excellent curatorial nose and have sniffed out some of Ireland’s best bites and slotted them in. So if you don’t know where to start in a sea of names, then I recommend grabbing something that you know for sure is going to be a fantastic flavour bomb sensation. 

big grill
big grill

Grab a bird from Chimac or some fantastic Filipino flavours from Bahay, and you can’t go wrong. If you need some carbs in your life, Reggie’s Pizza Party is going to slap. 

They’re also the people I’d ask for recs. No one knows what is going to be the dish worth tasting than the staff working the event. They’ve likely been pouring over the lineup, looking all the chefs up on insta, trying to pick the one place they’re going to chance queuing up for during their break. 


Eat some excellent grills

big grill

Pick your BBQ. I recommend the divide and conquer approach. Bringing the gang, assign each of them a mission dish to retrieve. Then reconvene at your predetermined spot and get sharing. It is the perfect way to get to taste everything. And you’re probably going to want to taste as much as possible. I know I am. 

If you can’t do that, you’ll need to make choices. But, unfortunately, try as we might, eating one of everything becomes physiologically impossible at some point because life is unfair. 

If I could only hit up three spots, they would be:

Miguel Vidal – Valentines Tex Mex, Austin. This chef is so good he has acolytes. His smoked meats are reliably tender and tasty, and his handmade tortillas are the kind of divine Jesus would approve of. 

Martin Anderson. Argentinian BBQ is a taste experience all its own. If you’ve never had it, you should change that. It’s revelatory. Or at least it is when Chef Martin cooks it. He is an expert in whole-carcass cooking. He can cook anything over hot coals from Asado lambs to a whole cow. So get in there early to get a good cut. 

Kimberly Plafke. This chef is not only a pitt master griller but a goddamn badass butcher. She works at the infamous The Meat Hook in Brooklyn, where you can get juicy meats covered in raclette. Cheese and meats, groundbreaking – sheer genius if you ask me. 

big grill
big grill

The Big Grill runs from Aug 11 – 14 in Herbert Park, Ballsbridge. Book your ticket here.

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