The 40th Galway International Arts Festival came to a close last Sunday evening following what has been the biggest festival to date, which enjoyed record-breaking box office and attendance figures.
A total of 724 participating artists, across 33 venues, entertained audiences of 210,000 at performances, talks, concerts, street events, and exhibitions, representing an increase of 5 per cent on last year. Ticket sales were up by 19 per cent on 2016 and early estimates suggest the two-week event will have an economic impact at least on par with 2016’s €23.5 million.
Thousands of visitors from Ireland and across the world travelled to Galway to be part of the 40th anniversary celebrations. Festival shows also enjoyed critical acclaim with The Guardian calling the Landmark Productions/Galway International Arts Festival co-production, Woyzeck in Winter, “Triumphant...brilliant...extraordinary”, while The Sunday Independent described the show as “a dazzling achievement”. Woyzeck in Winter will travel to The Barbican, London in September and play as part of Dublin Theatre Festival in October.
There was also widespread critical acclaim for GIAF’s first opera, The Second Violinist, produced by Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera. The Irish Times described it as “an extraordinary modern opera”, while The Guardian said it was an “exhilarating blend of opera, theatre, and film”.
A record-breaking circa 600 volunteers, from Ireland, South Korea, Australia, Canada, and South America supported the festival team, while an estimated 30,000 spectators watched The People Build in Eyre Square.
“We are absolutely delighted by the extraordinary reaction to our 40th Festival programme,” said festival artistic director Paul Fahy. “The atmosphere and sense of excitement around the city was fantastic and it was such a thrill to see audiences respond so well to this year’s programme. We are very grateful to all our artists and audience for making this festival such a memorable one.”
Festival CEO John Crumlish said: “We are very grateful to the festival audience for coming out in such numbers and reacting so positively to the programme. It made for a great 40th birthday.”