Imbolc Traditions



The planting begins – good things come to those who prepare, work and wait.


Lighting the Way


Rooted in the Irish i mbolg (in the belly), the budding season of Imbolc gives a taste of all to come throughout the year. Goddess Brigid (like the Christian saint of the same name) is said to have visited homes on the first day of Imbolc, bringing with her the eternal flame of rebirth and inspiration. Women have kept her light burning throughout history (Solas Bhríde Centre keeps her flame alight to this day). In the first week of Imbolc 2020, Galway will light up with fiery surprises across the county led by a community cast, before a grand open-air spectacle on Saturday 8 February.



Tending the Flame


Brigid is said to walk the land during this season of new beginnings, bringing the darkness of winter into the growth of spring. Kari Kola’s Savage Beauty will bring this luminous energy to the rugged landscape of Connemara in one of his most impressive technical feats yet.

Another artist who continues to blaze a trail in technology is Laurie Anderson. The esteemed artist, writer and composer will transport viewers with two immersive projects, To the Moon and All the Things I Lost in the Flood as part of a monumental partnership between Galway 2020 and Dublin’s National Concert Hall.

In pagan times, Brigid was also the 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.

The 35th Cúirt International Festival of Literature will celebrate another powerful woman in literature, Eilís Dillon in her home city and explore the influence of Dillon’s European travels in her work.

In 2020, new ideas will be cultivated with emerging makers from different fields. Galway 2020 and Laureate na nÓg, Sarah Crossan will inspire a new generation of poets in We are the Poets to have their say on our key themes of landscape, language and migration.


Wheel of the Year


Imbolc gives the green light to year-long projects exploring natural cycles through an environmental, aesthetic and social lens. Tobias Hutzler’s Topographies of Light draws our attention to the changing subtleties of the landscape, while Hope it Rains | Soineann nó Doineann recognises and adapts to one of the West of Ireland’s most permanent weather features – the rain. New technologies and renewable energy are also major themes in John Gerrard’s Mirror Pavilion, which will bring sustainable, large-scale digital installations to Galway later in the year.


Planting the Seeds


Northern Peripheries will mobilise a new wave of filmmakers, connecting local and European talent in a prolific, creative environment. Seeds will be planted too, by Druid, as The Galway Tour travels across the county’s towns and islands from April through to July. With exclusive access to rehearsals and a world-renowned cast, local communities will be immersed in contemporary theatre.

Music for Galway is busy creating a legacy of classical music in Galway with Cellissimo, a major new international triennial cello festival. Cellists both young and old, seasoned and novice, will perform as part of the eight-day event, which counts renowned cellists Mischa Maisky (Latvia), Giovanni Sollima (Italy) and Natalie Haas (Canada) among
its impressive line-up. The festival boasts 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.

Branar Téatar do Pháistí’s Sruth na Teanga is set to leave its own mark on the future of Irish culture, through ground-breaking, immersive technology and an energetic performance that will inspire awe and understanding of the deep, historical resonance of the Irish language.



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