Over 14 days, the city can look forward to more than 200 events, across 32 venues, and involving more than 600 artists and performers, in what is to date, the largest Galway International Arts Festival ever staged.
GIAF 18 runs from July 16 to 29, and as well as Big Top concerts with The Flaming Lips and Gavin James, hit international theatre shows like The Fall, exciting visual arts exhibitions by the likes of David Mach, as well as a public lecture by Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D Higgins, there is also a new development for the festival, with the opening of the Festival Garden in Eyre Square.
The idea behind the Festival Garden is that it will be "Galway's livingroom, a chilled out zone for artists and audiences to relax in". It will include pop-up performances from guest artists, drinks and food, a festival information centre, and box office.
Grief, loss, but also celebrating a life that was, come together in the world premiere of Incantata, by Paul Muldoon, one of Ireland's leading poets (Town Hall Theatre, July 16-21, 24, 27 ). Starring Stanley Townsend, this is Muldoon's tribute to the artist Mary Farl Powers, a close friend of Muldoon's and a former love.
The controversy over the statue of British imperialist and colonialist Cecil Rhodes at Cape Town University, and the issues it raises of race, racism, exploitation, conquest, class, and empire, will be brought to Galway in The Fall (Black Box, July 16-21 ). Featuring drama, dance, and song, it was written and will be performed by seven drama students who were involved in the protests to remove the statue.
When audiences enter the Black Box for The Aspirations Of Daise Morrow, they will walk onto a vast clay mound, sit in seats arranged in circles, and watch the play as actors walk past them, in this critically acclaimed stage adaptation of Patrick White's novel (July 23-28 ).
An even more unusual presentation will be Flight (O'Donoghue Centre, NUIG, July 19-29 ), charting the journey of two refugees crossing Europe in the hope of reaching Britain. Audiences will see their journey, while standing in a booth, watching different 3D images, while listening to narration.
Continuing with the immersive theatre experience, is Lebanese play/installation Gardens Speak (Bank of Ireland Theatre, NUIG, July 23-29 ), where visitors will don protective forensic gear, and then dig at the ground, to hear the reconstructed stories of victims of the Syrian civil war, and the hopes they have left behind for the children and their country.
New writing by Irish playwrights will be showcased by Druid in the Mick Lally Theatre, when the company stages Furniture by Sonja O'Kelly (July 12-28 ) and Shelter by Cristín Kehoe, and casts boasting such talent as Niall Buggy, Garrett Lombard, Aaron Monaghan, and Rory Nolan. There will also be a new play, Office 3AA by Enda Walsh (O'Donoghue Centre, NUIG, July 16-29 ). An Taibhdhearc will stage Baoite/Bait (July 12-22 ), focusing on a fishing community under threat from fracking; and Class, a play looking at all connotations of the word (July 24-28 ). Galway's Decadent Theatre will stage Conor McPherson's Port Authority (Nuns Island Theatre, July 16-29 ), directed by Andrew Flynn, who also directs Galway Youth Theatre in Wit (Nuns Island, July 16-29 )
Sharon Carty, the Irish mezzo-soprano, returns to the festival to star in Irish National Opera's production of Christoph Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice (Town Hall, July 23-29 ), in what promises to be an imaginative production featuring music, dance, song, and imagery, and featuring the Irish Baroque Orchestra.
Two Australian physical theatre/acrobatic companies will present what could prove an athletic endurance contest for themselves and audiences, as well as top flight, breathtaking, entertainment, in Gravity & Other Myths' Backbone (Bailey Allen Hall, NUIG, July 17-21 ) and Circa's Humans (July 24-29 ). An Irish-Nigerian dancer and a Palestinian will join forces for Cloud Study (Festival Gallery, Market Street, July 17-19 ).
The Big Top, Fisheries Field, boasts one of its most exciting line-ups with concerts from Malian Afro-pop/rock duo Amadu & Mariam (July 18 ), Kodaline (July 19 ), Gavin James (July 20 ), Walking On Cars (July 21 ), The Stunning (July 22 ), The Flaming Lips (July 26 ), Madness (July 27 ), the RTÉ Concert Orchestra Festival Proms and later and indie/electronica artist Caribou (both July 28 ), and Jenny Greene and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra (July 29 ). The shows are presented in association with the Róisín Dubh.
Gigs in the Róísín Dubh include indie-folk band folk/trad/electro trio The Ollam (July 17 ), trad/folk-electro experimentalist Seamus Fogarty (July 18 ), Ailbhe Rewddy (July 19 ), Something Happens (July 20 ), the peerless post-rock/metal/math-rockers And So I Watch You From Afar (July 21 ), cult singer-songwriter Paddy Hanna (July 22 ), Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat and singer-guitarist John Smith (July 23 ), indie-rockers We Are Scientists (July 24 ), Tracy Bruen, recipient of Galway Advertiser Album of The Year 2017 (July 25 ), New Orleans Swamp Donkeys (July 26 ), All Our Exes Live In Texas (July 27 ), Irish indie-electro duo Le Boom (July 28 ), and alt.folk band Mongoose (July 29 ).
Monroe's will host Liam Ó Maonlaí and Brendan Regan (July 16 ), Sharon Shannon and band (July 17 ), the marvellous Camille O'Sullivan (July 18 ), indie-folk duo The Lost Brothers (July 26 ), indie legends The Wedding Present (July 25 ), and of course the annual Trad Lunchtime shows. There will also be a live set from Beardyman followed by a DJ set from Kevin Rowland (Dexy's Midnght Runners ) on July 28 and a DJ set from Jerry Dammers (July 27 ).
Electric have an excellent line-up for GIAF 18. Shivers presents Young Marco, Wolf Muller, Niklas Wandt, and the Gash Collective Boat Party (July 20 ); Italian DJ Lerosa, HOLOVR, and lastminuteman (July 21 ); New Jackson (aka David Kitt ), R Kitt, and Barry Redsetta (July 26 ); and Moodyman, Intergalactic Gary, Sync 24, Aoife O'Neill, and The Disconauts (July 28 ).
Classical music enthusiasts can look forward to the China National Traditional Orchestra (July 24 ) and Wajahat Khan and Peadar Ó Riada in St Nicholas' Collegiate Church (July 17 ).
Street events and visual arts
Little remains of the Galway-Clifden railway line bar the structures in the River Corrib at Woodquay. To commemorate that once existent structure Olivier Grossetete's The People Build will construct a cardboard bridge in the area; a seven meter 1:500,000 replica of the moon will be out an about in Galway in Museum Of The Moon, allowing the public to view its surface up close; huge, illuminated, mysterious birds will stalk the streets in Birdmen; while Galwegians will be able to wander through a maze of winding paths and changing colours in Miracoco Luminarium.
There will also be exhibitions from David Mach, Deirdre O'Mahony, Sarah Hickson, Impressions, Domestic Godless, Ronnie Hughes and Evgeniay Martirosyan, and Galway's Jennifer Cunningham, as well as artworks about protest, a "web like structural negative" replica of a sixth century Connemara church.
The theme of home will feature most strongly in the GIAF series of talks. Historian Catherine Corless will speak about the Tuam and Bessborough Mother and Baby Homes (July 21 ); there will also be talks on the housing crisis, and talks from novelist Sebastian Barry, Prof Roy Foster, and Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental.
Tickets are on sale from www.giaf.ie, 091 - 566577, or the festival box office at the Galway Tourist Office, Foster Street.