Galway 2020 Programme at a Glance


In the midst of a climate crisis, ancient and cyclical notions of time hold new significance. Artists in particular look to the pearls of our history in building bright futures.

Modelled on the old Celtic calendar, Galway 2020’s European Capital of Culture programme echoes this sentiment. As we change with the seasons, the calendar also puts us in touch with the many disparate parts of ourselves – from the contentiousness of Imbolc to the hopeful festival of Bealtaine, the merriment of Lughnasa to the sombre and mischievous Samhain.

Rooted in the Irish imbolg (in the belly), the budding season of Imbolc gives a taste of all to come. January concerts will warm up crowds for February’s incredible Opening Ceremony, as Wonder Works (the company behind the 2018 Olympic ceremonies) prepare to spark fiery festivities to launch the year.

Imbolc offers a balance of phenomenal sights to behold and creative workshops to engage. Helen Marriage, Creative Director of Galway 2020, says, “Kari Kola’s Savage Beauty will illuminate the Connemara landscape on an epic scale, while Druid Theatre’s Galway Tour offers a more intimate exploration of both the history of great Irish writing and the hidden towns and islands of the county.”


“We try to honour ancient customs while embracing the new values that emerge…”

Cúirt International Festival inaugurates a year of Irish and European literature. Book worms will delight in appearances from internationally-acclaimed wordsmiths such as Margaret Atwood, while projects like Aistriú, Óró… and Sea Tamagotchi are sure to inspire na cainteoirí Gaeilge. Marriage adds, “Irish weaves its way throughout the programme, brought vividly to life in Sruth na Teanga, an epic history of the language created by Branar Téatar do Pháistí. There are other languages too. Galway is Ireland’s most diverse city with a quarter of its people coming from countries across the sea. You’ll find them all taking their place in projects as various as City of Light by the Lantern Company; Travellers’ Tales; Backgrounds by Darrell Vydelingum and Fun Run…

As we move through Bealtaine towards the abundant Lughnasa, we’re invited to celebrate this diverse and vibrant community on the edge of Europe. A string of innovative events and performances will follow from Macnas’s Gilgamesh, David Best’s Borderline, Galway Theatre Festival’s InterAction and more.

Ambitious new work from TULCA, Galway International Arts Festival and Galway 2020 resident artist Tobias Hutzler elevates Galway in the world of contemporary visual art. Meanwhile, Project Baa Baa reconnects us with the Celtic calendar’s agrarian roots in an ode to the role of sheep in Irish society.

Samhain ushers in the darkness of winter, when the border between life and the Otherworld is faint. This point in the programme asks us to reflect on our past and honour an unknown future. “We try to honour ancient customs while embracing the new values that emerge… Comhaltas brings us its classic celebration of traditional Irish culture, while Nighthouse Studio’s Unsung promises a moving contemporary tribute to Galway’s lost children,” says Marriage, adding;  “Our artists will be instrumental in this year-long process of transformation. These prophets of our future and celebrants of our past – our artists – hold up a mirror and show us who we are and where we’re headed.”


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