Galway will have its arts festival this year

A special Autumn Edition of theatre, art, music is planned, both live and digital

Pan Pan 
by Samuel Beckett 
directed by Gavin Quinn,  as part of Galway International Arts Festival Autumn Edition 
(17-20 Sept, 1pm, 4pm & 7pm, meeting point outside the Town Hall Theatre)

Pan Pan Cascando by Samuel Beckett directed by Gavin Quinn, as part of Galway International Arts Festival Autumn Edition (17-20 Sept, 1pm, 4pm & 7pm, meeting point outside the Town Hall Theatre)

The famed Galway International Arts Festival, cancelled for the first time in 43 years this summer, will now stage a new autumn edition.

This once-off programme, taking place in September and October, will not replace the annual summer event, but will ensure the city can celebrate its love of theatre, music and the arts with a new offering.

The programme will include both live arts and an enhanced digital component, giving audiences a choice as to how they wish to engage with it, either in person, both indoors and outdoors, or at home digitally.

The festival's managing director John Crumlish and artistic director Paul Fahy say the aim is to move forward and bring live experiences back to the fore, but also ensure no one is left behind, especially those who are unable to travel to Galway or are currently staying at home.

"While this has been a very challenging time for everyone, we were determined to present a programme in Galway this year despite everything and we are set to do just that with our Autumn Edition," says Crumlish. "We wanted this to be a love letter from the arts to our audience during a very difficult period for people. We have had to radically rethink how we do things but one thing's for sure, we look forward to safely gathering again to celebrate great art with everyone - either in person or online – this autumn.”

But the programme promises to be just as exciting and visionary as the famed summer event. The centrepiece is the world unveiling of a major new visual arts commission for Galway 2020, European Capital of Culture. John Gerrard’s Mirror Pavilion, which the festival says will be a "dazzling moment on the Irish landscape" will be presented outdoors in both Galway city and in Connemara. Mirror Pavilion, which us cutting edge digital technology, will be one of the largest outdoor installations in Ireland.

Mirror Pavillion

Mirror Pavilion - Concept drawing, courtesy of John Gerrard commissioned by Galway International Arts Festival as part of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture.

Other highlights include new work from Hughie O’Donoghue and online from Sarah Hickson, and the festival gallery will also host American video art pioneer Bill Viola’s Three Women.

Enda Walsh will be back with a ‘one-night-only' peek at a his new play, Medicine, with Domhnall Gleeson returning to the stage, alongside Clare Barrett, Aoife Duffin and jazz percussionist Sean Carpio.

First Thought Talks will focus on the big issues and challenges of 2020 with speakers including Samantha Power, Professor Luke O’Neill, Marion McKeone, Colm Tóibín, Gaia Vince, Eamon Dunphy and Fintan O’Toole.

Experience through headphones, as you walk through the streets of Galway, Cascando by Samuel Beckett directed by Gavin Quinn, from Pan Pan. And there will be live performances to mark Beethoven 250 by ConTempo string quartet.

Artistic director, Paul Fahy, hopes the Autumn Edition will lift the mood after lockdown.

"Over the last few months the importance of culture has been more evident than ever before as we all embraced our favourite art forms to help us through such a difficult time.

"We are hugely excited to re-establish live experiences between artists and audiences alongside online experiences for those who cannot join in person. As the country emerges from lockdown, we hope Galway International Arts Festival will help elevate the mood of the nation and enrich many hearts and minds as we present this Autumn Edition."

Sarah Hickson image from Placing Home: Hidden Stories

Sarah Hickson image from Placing Home: Hidden Stories

Visual Arts

Last summer GIAF moved into a new festival gallery space housed in An Post’s network of buildings just off William Street, and this year it will host the new exhibition by celebrated Irish artist Hughie O’Donoghue, which features a number of large-scale works.

Internationally acclaimed video artist Bill Viola will stage Three Women, which is part of the Transfigurations video series (5-26 Sept ), while Changing Room, written by Enda Walsh and designed by Paul Fahy, is the seventh in the series - this latest addition shares the story of a character who has inhabited that room.

Tiernan Henry talks favourite music and memories with special guests Julie Feeney, David Brophy and Liz Nugent in a new series of live Vinyl Hours conversations. These will be available to listen to on the festival’s new First Thought podcast.

Festival goers can experience through headphones as they walk through the streets of Galway, Cascando by Samuel Beckett directed by Gavin Quinn, from Pan Pan who make their long–awaited GIAF debut this year.

The audience will be led through the city streets - the unhurried pace of Andrew Bennett’s deep and riveting voice providing a rhythm for their steps, as they listen to Voices struggle to tell a story, with the pulse of Jimmy Eadie’s music.

To celebrate 250 years since the birth of Beethoven, ConTempo will perform a series of live concerts featuring some of his most-loved pieces for strings quartets.

Cargo Hughie O Donoghue

Cargo Hughie O'Donoghue part of Night Cargo exhibition which will run as part of Galway International Arts Festival Autumn Edition 5-26 September at the Festival Gallery William Street

Experience GIAF online at home

Galway International Arts Festival is acutely aware that some may not be in a position to experience these events in person in Galway this autumn. With that in mind the Festival presents an enhanced digital programme for audiences who cannot visit Galway to attend in person this year, or may prefer to engage from home.

A selection of these are live events which will be streamed on the festival's online platforms, some as digital only events. Additional events will be presented on Facebook Live and Instagram. Check the Festival’s online platforms for regular updates.

An Post has made the space available again and will this year host a major new exhibition by celebrated Irish artist Hughie O’Donoghue. This exhibition features a number of large-scale works.

Tickets go on-sale at 1pm Monday August 10.

The full programme and dates are available at


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