The arrival of the Galway International Arts Festival is a sure sign that it’s high summer in Galway, and this is a glorious time to enjoy all that our beautiful city has to offer.
It was not for nothing that Galway was named European Capital of Culture 2020 — we enjoy a plethora of festivals every year, covering every aspect of arts and culture imaginable, though those of us who live here can take them for granted.
The arts festival stands apart as a time when we can get out and enjoy every aspect of the arts, so make sure you do. Art, like nature, is good for the body and soul.
The positive effects of nature on our health and wellbeing are well known. In Japan, the practice of forest bathing sees people avail of the positive psychological and physiological effects that come from simply spending time among trees. This has been shown to lower stress hormones and blood pressure, as well as boosting the immune system, among a host of other health benefits.
Similar studies on the arts have found that exposure to culture and creativity improves both measurable health markers and subjective wellbeing. Most of these studies focus on hospitals and/or groups of patients with specific conditions, but there is no doubt we can all avail of the benefits, particularly at this time of year.
We know that the festival, and arts and culture in general, brings huge benefits for tourism, for the economy, and for the region, but we can forget that it benefits us, too, as individuals and as a society.
So enjoy the arts festival, see the exhibitions, and enjoy the street spectacle. Take in a play, talk, some comedy, or whatever takes your fancy. Enjoy the few weeks of ‘culture bathing’ that come with the festival. It’ll do you the world of good.