Approaching an Historic Year as European Capital of Culture


2020 is finally here, and across the county, from Ballinasloe to Clifden, a cast of fiery performers are preparing to illuminate the streets of Galway in a spectacular Opening Ceremony this coming February.

In the meantime, Music for Galway will warm us up for the season of growth with a Midwinter Festival celebrating the maverick Beethoven on his 250th birthday.


The festival is one of many high-profile events creating a legacy of classical music in Galway. Galway’s own ConTempo Quartet will open proceedings on Friday 17 January with a stellar cast of musicians, before the lauded Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova and French pianist Cédric Tiberghien take to the stage. In April, cellists both seasoned and novice will perform during the first edition of  Cellissimo, a major new international triennial cello festival. Cellissimo counts renowned cellists Mischa Maisky (Latvia), Giovanni Sollima (Italy) and Natalie Haas (Canada) among its impressive line-up. Expect premieres from award-winning composers Gerald Barry and Julia Wolfe, as well the Irish premiere of Tan Dun’s famed Crouching Tiger Concerto, performed by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. In the same month, Abendmusik will offer moving performances from local players alongside star guests Sam Perkin and Giovanni Sollima in the historic St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church. Tickets on sale now.

Imbolc is a time to plant seeds for the future and Druid: The Galway Tour will do just that, touring some of Ireland’s greatest one-act plays across Galway County from April to July. With exclusive access to rehearsals and a world-renowned cast, local communities will be immersed in contemporary theatre. Extending its reach further, the pioneering company will live stream Tom Murphy’s version of Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard to  cinemas in Ireland and across the world  on  5 March. In a similar bid to rediscover old roots with new tools, Branar Téatar do Pháistí’s Sruth na Teanga will use ground-breaking technology and immersive performance to inspire awe and understanding of the deep, historical resonance of the Irish language. Viewers are active participants in the experience which Director Marc Mac Lochlainn hopes will “spark that curiosity that drives people to dig deeper.”


Imbolc is the festival of Brigid, pagan goddess of poetic inspiration, and who better to carry her torch than Margaret Atwood, who will join us as part of our Wild Atlantic Women series to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March. Galway 2020 will aim to inspire a new generation of writers in a project led by Laureate na nÓg, Sarah Crossan. We are the Poets encourages young poets across Ireland to have their say on key themes of landscape, language and migration. A selection of the emerging poets will accompany famous poet and author, Lemn Sissay in a reading at Galway City Museum on 30 April.


Galway 2020 CEO Patricia Philbin said “After a great collective effort from our team, our partners and the people of Galway, our year as European Capital of Culture is about to commence. A wonderful year awaits.”

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