Matera European Capital of Culture 2019


Following on from the opening ceremony for Plovdiv’s European Capital of Culture 2019 two weeks ago, last weekend was Matera’s turn to shine.

Some of the Galway 2020 team took part in the celebrations of the Matera European Capital of Culture 2019 opening, which saw the city filled with music, lights, colour and whole lot of community spirit.

One of the highlights of the weekend, which put a large focus on community, was the coming together of 2,019 musicians from all the villages in Basilicata and across Europe, who marched through the city on Saturday.

To celebrate the tradition that for centuries has been carried out by the musicians of Matera-Basilicata in the 131 municipalities of the region, the bands were joined by hundreds of others throughout Europe. From Galway, St Patrick’s Brass Band took to the streets, adding their own special talent and spirit to the incredible celebrations.


Galway 2020 Head of Programme, Marilyn Reddan Gaughan said Galway 2020 was delighted to participate in such an historic event for Matera, our European Capital of Culture sister. “What made the Matera opening so special was that it was not just a celebration of Matera, but a celebration of European cultural heritage. We were very honoured to be represented by the St Patrick’s Brass Band, who were true ambassadors for Galway – they made music, they made friends, and they represented Galway 2020 with pride. For me, that’s what a European Capital of Culture is – local people being celebrated on a European stage.”

“It was a privilege to see a European Capital of Culture in action,” said Craig Flaherty, Galway 2020 Cultural Producer. “There was a great sense of pride in the region for the designation and it was a fantastic celebration. There also such a welcome for us visitors into the neighbourhoods and lives of the people of Matera for their opening ceremony. We wish them the best of luck in 2019.”

As a part of the celebrations, locals and visitors spilled out onto the streets where an outdoor party filled the streets with music and fun. When the sun went down, the stunning landmarks, Sasso Barisano and the Sasso Caveoso were illuminated by thousands of lights and the technological installations of the Lumen/Social Light project. As a part of the project, by Open Design School, 15 original light installations illuminated the past and the future of Southern Italy, creating new ways to explore the city.

Another pillar project of Matera 2019, Matera Alberga was launched over the weekend, and sees contemporary art leaving museums and moving to spaces that have always been a symbol of hospitality between locals and visitors: hotels. With installations of contemporary art that evoke the ancient neighbourhoods of the Sassi of Matera, the Matera Alberga project reflects on the relationship between contemporary art and everyday life.

As a part of the European Capital of Culture family, Galway 2020 will be working with Matera in the coming two years, to collaborate, share knowledge, and create new and exciting connections between Galway and this beautiful, historic city.