Galway International Arts Festival turns 40

Woman dancing

Galway International Arts Festival turns 40

17 July 2017
3 min read

Famed for its bohemian atmosphere and creative residents, Galway City is a major cultural hub on the dramatically beautiful Wild Atlantic Way.

Every summer, the arts scene gets even busier when Ireland’s biggest multi-disciplinary arts festival descends on the west coast city. Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Galway International Arts Festival boasts spectacular attendance figures in excess of 200,000.

Across its four-decade history, the festival has welcomed a host of exceptional talent, including singer Joni Mitchell, artist David Hockney, composer Philip Glass, writer Cormac McCarthy, performance artist Marina Abramović and Irish trad supergroup The Gloaming.

Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Galway International Arts Festival boasts spectacular attendance figures in excess of 200,000.

At the forefront of modern Irish theatre, playwright Enda Walsh has an intimate connection to this City of Tribes festival. His first play Disco Pigs – starring Cillian Murphy – featured on the 1997 line-up and he also premiered Ballyturk and Arlington at subsequent festivals. Fresh from a Fedora-Generali Prize for Opera 2017 win, Walsh’s hotly-anticipated new performance is premiering at this year’s festival.

With artistic director Paul Fahy at the helm since 2005, Galway International Arts Festival has blossomed. As well as curating an exceptional line-up year after year and forging close relationships with artists, he’s played a key part in developing the festival’s infrastructure with the introduction of temporary structure The Big Top.

In this landmark anniversary year, festival goers have a lot to look forward to. Just some highlights include Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds, Patrick O’Kane and Camille O’Sullivan starring in the world premiere of Woyzeck in Winter and artist John Gerrard showcasing brand new works. Running 17-30 July, there are events to satisfy the tastes of every culture vulture.

With 40 years under its belt and a seemingly unstoppable momentum, this festival is going from strength the strength. It looks destined to keep making an impact on the cultural scene in Galway and beyond for many more years to come.

The Galway International Arts Festival is one of the key events in Galway City’s Culture and Creativity Plan 2017, part of the five-year Creative Ireland initiative to boost arts access and awareness across the country.