The festival was commissioned nearly twenty years ago by the Church Of Ireland Youth Department. It was previously held in Gosford Forest Park, Armagh, but due to the foot and mouth crisis in 2001, the festival re-located to the King's Hall, where it has remained ever since.
The festival is aimed at young people, and consistently targets those aged 15-25, however it is also popular with families and runs the "Feet First" programme for under-11s. The festival generally attracts around 5000 visitors a year, and many of these choose to camp on site.
There are a wide variety of activities on offer during the day. Seminars, debates and workshops are run daily in various venues around the King's Hall, with topics ranging from homosexuality and the church to eating disorders to mission and servanthood. In addition to this, there is a large sports and activities programme, an internet cafe, a venue for clergy and youth leaders, and a cinema. There is a large exhibition hall, with a bookshop, games area, and a cafe venue run by Tearfund. This sells Fair Trade produce as part of the group's "Lift The Label" campaign.
The festival places great emphasis on the arts with the SMart programme and a number of local bands play each year. For the past two years, the Christian rock group Delirious? have played concerts at the festival, and other big names such as Kevin Max and The OC Supertones have also visited. Every year, the Avalon Acoustic Afternoons competition is won. This gives promising local singer/songwriters the chance to compete for the prize of an Avalon Gold series guitar and a day in a recording studio. There is also a "steeky beats" venue for dance music fans, held nightly.
The focal point of the festival however, is worship meetings, held twice-daily in the King's Hall. Here, the vast majority of campers will join to worship God and listen to teaching. Past speakers have included Jeff Lucas, Mike Pilavachi and Tre Sheppard of the band Onehundredhours, Tony (and Bart) Campolo. Past worship leaders have included Matt Redman, Andy Flannagan and Ian Hannah and leaders for 2006 will be Tim Hughes and local musician Johnny Parks. On the Sunday morning of the festival, a communion service is held using the Anglican liturgy, which many consider a very central point of the festival.
The Prayer Ministry team at the festival have gradually introduced several different points of response for the daily meetings. These included a prayer wall, a candle lit reflective venue, and the opportunity for artistic response, confessional station and a healig prayer point.
Summer Madness operated a 'community outreach' programme from 2003-2007 branded 'Streetreach', which continues to inspire local groups to connect with community needs and offer young people the chance to serve and demonstrate God's love in practical ways. This year in 2008 a similar programme under the banner of 'Urban Soul' will begin in Dublin.
In January 2008 Summer Madness started in Australia. With nearly 300 people converging on Queensland's Sunshine Coast at Alexandra Headlands, "Momentum" was a great success. Wonderful speakers, great bands, the Funsters, Jools Hamilton, the Hosts and the leaders all made the first event possible with many to come. Summer Madness Australia hopes to be as big as Summer Madness in Ireland.
As the Christian Festival Summer Madness, Approaches, 'No Longer Loved' Clothes Can Be Swapped and Exchanged at a Special Pre-Festival Wardrobe Swap and Acoustic Caf[c] Event on Friday June 22 from 7pm at the Dock Caf[c] in the Titanic Quarter
Jun 17, 2012; As the Christian festival Summer Madness, approaches, 'no longer loved' clothes can be swapped and exchanged at a special...