Galway's three major festivals - the Galway Film Fleadh, the Galway International Arts Festival, and the Galway Races - are set to attract a combined total of 375,000 people to the city, and collectively generate more than €90 million for the local economy.
The three festivals run from the middle of this month to the beginning of August, and expectations are that visitor numbers of the Galway International Arts Festival will increase from last year, while financially all three are set to mainain the levels achieved in previous years.
The Galway Film Fleadh, which marks its 30th anniversary this year, runs from Tuesday July 10 to Sunday 15. The festival is estimated to be worth €6.90 million to the local economy, and the organisers are confident this year's fleadh will reach similar figures.
Throughout the six days, the fleadh is expected to attract 20,000 people into the city, with these numbers ranging from film enthusiasts to directors, producers, screenwriters, and actors, and festival programmer William Fitzgerald believes Galway city itself is a major reason behind the festival's success.
“The biggest thing the fleadh has going for it is Galway," he said. "What differentiates it from bigger marketplace festivals like Cannes and Berlin is its laid-back atmosphere and egalitarian nature; there is no separation of artists and audiences, there are no red carpets or velvet ropes. The other big thing is we have a marketplace; the whole industry side of the fleadh makes it unique in Ireland. So if you don’t get that film deal you were hoping for in Cannes, you can come to Galway and meet those same financiers or distributors and sales agents, and do business here at the same time as enjoying this great festival where the locals come to see what is new in Irish and world cinema.”
'The festival’s economic impact on the local economy has grown significantly in the last few years' - GIAF chief executive John Crumlish
The Galway International Arts Festival runs from Monday July 16 to Sunday 29 and is being billed as the largest festival yet in the event's 41 year history. Last year the festival attracted 210,000 people, which was the highest attendance level to date, and the organisers believe this year's visitor numbers will be higher again. It is also expected that the two-week festival will have an economic impact at least on par with 2017’s €29.5 million generated.
"The festival’s economic impact on the local economy has grown significantly in the last few years as the festival has grown in size and has increased its national and international marketing," said GIAF chief executive John Crumlish. "During that period attendance has grown significantly with the number of international visitors who attend the festival making up 37 per cent of our overall audience in 2017.”
Galway's festival season will continue into late July and early August with the Galway Races. According to the Mayor of Galway, Labour councillor Niall McNelis, the races are worth around €54 million to city's economy, and during its week long run, will attract 145,000 people and create some 1,500 jobs.
"The financial value of the arts festival is borne out by it being the biggest two weeks of the year for retail," Mayor McNelis told the Galway Advertiser. "The races is huge for the city's hospitality sector, and with the fleadh you have major names in acting and film-making coming to the city. There's nowhere like Galway in the country this time of year. We have amazing people, both professional and volunteer, who work in these organisations and make it happen.