Record-breaking crowds attend 2015 arts festival

The Skywhale by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini.

The Skywhale by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini.

Record-breaking attendances of 200,000 attended the 38th Galway International Arts Festival's 375 performances, talks, and exhibitions across 26 venues in the city, making this year's festival "the most successful ever" according to the organisers.

US singer-songwriter John Grant's concert is being regarded as one of the highlights of the festival and among the very best Big Top concerts in the festival's history. Meanwhile, The Festival Gallery on Market Street enjoyed more than 23,000 visitors alone for Australian artist Patricia Piccinini’s exhibition Relativity.

“It has been a very good festival and we are delighted with the general reaction to it and also the record breaking attendance. I would like to thank all those who took part, supported, and attended the festival and made it such a great two weeks," said festival chief executive, John Crumlish. Artistic director Paul Fahy added: “Something really special seemed to ignite people's imaginations this year, and despite the weather not being the best, the atmosphere around the city was just electric.”

In addition to the many thousands of international visitors who travelled from around the world, several international Festival directors and producers, journalists and TV crews from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, USA and Europe travelled to Galway to experience the Festival.

The festival closed last weekend, during which playwright Enda Walsh, taking a short break from rehearsals of his new opera which premieres at the Edinburgh Festival next month, visited his theatre installation A Girl’s Bedroom. His wife, Jo Ellison, fashion editor of the Financial Times, spoke about her work at the newspaper, her book Vogue The Gown, and her former role as features editor at Vogue UK.

Theatre at the festival drew to a close with the final performance by Galway’s Cathy Belton in Frank McGuinness's The Match Box, directed by Joan Sheehy. The Long Night of the Short Story, featuring readings and song ,took place at St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church. Curated by Anne Enright, Laureate for Irish Fiction, it featured singer Camille O’ Sullivan and authors Kevin Barry and Mary Costello. The Festival Big Top drew to a close last Saturday with a concert by The Coronas.

The Galway International Arts Festival 2016 takes place from July 11 to 24. See www.giaf.ie

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