Friday, 18th – Sunday 20th September 2020

Just as you thought the last chance of a proper festival had gone for this year, along comes The Big Think - a festival of talks and ideas - to fill you with inspiration, insight, hope and joy. Galway Summer Garden provides the perfect festival vibe for this Indian summer of enlightenment and laughs. The central outdoor stage is encircled by a panopticon of beautifully-appointed bell tents (each with its own dedicated loo! ), from which you can ‘contactlessly’ order your food and drinks delivered to the door.

On Saturday, national treasure Panti Bliss will present Panti’s Afternoon Tea, reflecting with panelists Cait O’Riordan (ex-The Pogues ), Mark Graham (King Kong Company ), Nadine O’Regan (Sunday Business Post ) and special guests on how culture and art can help us through these times and give us hope for the future. Panti’s Sunday Brunch promises a freewheeling, light-hearted review of the Sunday newspapers, with chat, comedy and music from Professor of Economics at UL, Stephen Kinsella; and comedian and best-selling author, Colm O’Regan, who will also present The Long March, an hour of hilarious stand-up in these post/mid/pre Covid times.

On Saturday, one of our country’s great science communicators, Professor Luke O’Neill will feature in Life Beyond COVID, a conversation about where we are at with the COVID-19 pandemic and what hope and trust we can have in science and society for a better future.

One of Galway’s most celebrated literary heroes, Mike McCormack, whose award-winning novel Solar Bones was recently adapted into a stunning new theatre show presented against the odds at Kilkenny Arts Festival. On Friday evening he’ll be talking to Constellations author, Sinead Gleeson about their respective life and work. On Saturday Sinead will also talk to another great Galway writer, Elaine Feeney, about her acclaimed new novel As You Were.

This Is Not A Mass Gathering on Sunday from 12 will open the day with an uplifting assembly of joy, thanksgiving and laughs hosted by poet and storyteller Marty Mulligan and musician Paddy Cullivan with very special musical guests. The Irish Music Industry Podcast will have a special live edition hosted by Mark Graham with special guest Edison Waters, manager of Gavin James. Could Game of Thrones have been filmed in Galway? And which came first – the Tribes of Galway or the Roundabouts they are named after? Paddy Cullivan brings you on a surreal journey through the relics of Galway’s future inspired by the ideas of Mark Fisher and Paddy’s own Galway roots in FESTAVIA: a Hauntological History of Galway on Friday. Paddy returns on Sunday with his new show Covid Live to Party: A Covidy of Errors exploring the insanity of pandemic life and its effects on life and the arts though his musical pandemic-sona, ‘Professor Patrick’, talking bat-eating Pangolins, Universal Basic Income and #Golfgate.

Every evening of the weekend is rounded off with some great music featuring the eclectic big sounds of The Converse Allstars, Big Jelly and John Conneely Inc., supported by summer festival favourite DJ Will Softly, with saucy pop-up performances by The Dirty Circus and drumming workshops.

Bring your pod of family and friends together for a last chance of a festival feel!


Tickets start at €60 Friday €90 Saturday and €90 Sunday per person in tents of six people maximum and can be booked on In addition, a ‘substantial meal’ from our restaurant partner The Twelve is also pre-paid at the time of booking featuring picnic boxes or brunch boxes during the afternoons and a BBQ on their custom grill in the evening. Uniquely, you’ll also be able to tune in to everything happening on stage through a set of sterile wireless headphones provided for your personal use throughout.


The Galway Summer Garden is the perfect chill out spot to reconnect with the friends and family you’ve been dying to see…. The festival garden is an ‘Arts & Dining’ Hub, an oasis; to soak up the festival style atmosphere from the luxury of your own private bell tent overlooking Galway Bay. There are 30 luxury bell tents that can be booked for groups of up to 6 for an afternoon or the entire evening. In addition to The Big Think, its Summer/Autumn Programme includes The Dirty Circus Garden Party (Sept 10th ), Maria Shiels & Anna Mullarkey (Sept 12th ) and Playboy of the Western World – The Musical (Sept 15-17th ).

**Event will take place observing all Government regulations and guidelines and in accordance with best public health practice.


Friday 18th September

Tickets €60 per person • 4pm to 11pm • Friday 18th August • 6 guests per tent

Mike McCormack • Sinead Gleeson • Paddy Cullivan • The Converse Allstars

Music : The Converse Allstars are a rock, blues, soul and funk cover band playing everything from James Brown to Vampire Weekend to Tom Waits to Prince and back to James Brown again! The 5 loveable lads have spent the last 9 years gigging in the most prominent venues and clubs all over Ireland and have never left an empty dance floor behind them!

Saturday 19th September

Tickets €90 per person • 11am to 11pm • Saturday 19th September • 6 guests per tent

Panti Bliss • Cait O’Riordan • Mark Graham • Nadine O’Regan • Professor Luke O’Neill • Sinead Gleeson • Elaine Feeney • Colm O’Regan • Marty Mulligan • Will Softly • Big Jelly

Music : DJ Will Softly: Will Softly is the Founder of One World Sounds a collective of DJs and Funktion One Soundsystems. Over four decades, he has developed a great following for his happy go lucky eclectic sensational sounds. His passion for music has flowered into headline slots at the St Patrick’s Day Treasure Beach festival in Jamaica! He has supported many great artists Inc. Femi Kuti, Alabama 3, Finley Quaye, Lee Scratch Perry, Emmanuel Jal, Max Romeo, and Spearhead to name but a few! He is a festival veteran from headline slots at the Festival of World Cultures , Electric Picnic, Body and Soul, Trenchtown, Caidre Festival Sligo, Tread Softly Festival.

Music: Big Jelly: Get to the roots of Ska & Rock Steady music with this 9-piece Galway outfit Big Jelly. Formed in 2014 by several members from well known local acts ‘The Timbertramps’, ‘My Fellow Sponges’ and ‘Mikey & the Scallywags’ their aim was simple “get the audience on the dance-floor”. Don’t let their love of Jamaican roots artists such as ‘The Skatalites’, ‘Prince Buster’ and ‘Toots & the Maytals’ fool you, mellow or laid back are not the words to describe them. With their loud and lush 5-piece brass section balanced atop the solid dance grooves of their rhythm section, a Big Jelly show is a frenetic experience that will grab the audience’s attention and fling it about the dance floor.

Sunday 20th September

Tickets €90 per person • 11am to 11pm Sunday 20th September • Up to 6 guests per tent

Marty Mulligan • Paddy Cullivan • The Irish Music Industry Podcast • Mark Graham • Edison Waters • Panti’s Sunday Brunch • Stephen Kinsella • Colm O’Regan • DJ Will Softly • John Conneely Inc.

Music: John Conneely Inc: John Conneely Inc shuffle through musical genres with ease and with a setlist that spans decades you will hear them performing big band arrangements of Django Reinhardt, Nina Simone and Cab Calloway alongside fresh interpretations of more contemporary songs from the 80’s and 90’s. Featuring some of Galway’s finest musicians the multi-cultural lineup includes Keyboards, Saxophone, Dobro, Flutes along with many guest musicians. Band Members - John Conneely, Mark Sullivan, Ciaran Kelly, Barbara Vulso, Bertrand Huvé, Eoin McCann & Maci


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