Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D Higgins, will officially inaugurate Galway 2020 at the European Capital of Culture's opening ceremony on Saturday, February 8, in South Park, the Claddagh.
The opening ceremony, will be a free, open-air, celebration, featuring fire, processions and music, with a cast drawn from communities across County Galway. Gates open at 4pm, with music from 5pm, followed by the opening ceremony at 6pm. The event is the creation of Wonder Works, the organisation behind the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.
There will be a formal ceremony at the Galmont Hotel in advance of the ceremony, where EU Commissioner Phil Hogan will present Galway 2020 with a plaque to formally mark the European Capital of Culture designation.
The opening ceremony will be the culmination of a week-long Fire Tour Lighting Ceremony in six towns across the county, starting in Clifden on February 2 at 7pm, then going to An Spidéal (February 3 ), Tuam (February 4 ), Ballinasloe (February 5 ), Portumna (February 6 ), and Athenry (February 7 ). Each lighting ceremony will take place at 7pm.
President Higgins, who has been a supporter of Galway 2020, said: "Galway 2020 is an Irish programme, with universal relevance and resonance. The festival will provide uniquely Galwegian, Irish, and international perspectives exploring the quintessential Irish themes of language, landscape, and migration. I have no doubt that the events of this year will inspire and enthuse, and in turn, prove a catalyst for further creative work in Galway and further afield."