About Galway International Arts Festival

Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF) is a major cultural organisation, which produces one of Europe’s leading international arts festivals; develops and produces new work that tours nationally and internationally; and presents a major discussion platform, First Thought Talks.

The organization has played a very significant role in placing Galway firmly on the map, as both a key cultural centre for the arts and a cultural tourism destination on the Wild Atlantic Way. It now looks forward to playing a central role in the European Capital of Culture 2020 designation awarded to Galway.

Galway International Arts Festival

The multidisciplinary festival takes place each July in Galway, Ireland and covers a range of art forms, including theatre, dance, music, opera, street spectacle, visual arts, discussion and comedy. In 2017, over 200 events took place in 33 venues over the course of 14 days with an attendance in excess of 210,000. The Guardian named the festival as one of the Top 5 Summer Festivals in Europe. 

Hear what those in the know have to say about Galway International Arts Festival.


The 41st Galway International Arts Festival takes place from 16-29 July 2018 and the full programme is available to view and download here.

The 2018 programme for GIAF (16-29 July) features an exciting Irish and international mix of theatre, opera, and dance (six world premieres, five Irish premieres), comedy, circus, music, spectacle, and visual art. As well as our First Thought Talks series featuring interviews and discussions on the theme of Home, featuring artists and theatre makers from across the world.

Three-time Grammy Award winners and one of Q Magazine’s ‘50 Bands to See Before You Die’ The Flaming Lips will play the Heineken Big Top on 26 July. They will be joined on our biggest Big Top bill yet by one of the most prominent bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Madness (27 July), double platinum selling indie rock band Walking on Cars (Saturday 21 July - Sold Out); indie sensation Caribou, who are set to play their only Irish gig of the summer (Saturday 28 July); world music superstars Amadou & Mariam (Wednesday 18 July); Choice Music prize winner Gavin James (Friday 20 July); the hugely popular Kodaline (Thursday 19 July - Sold Out); an afternoon of popular foot–tapping classics with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra Festival Proms (Friday 28 July), and 2FM Live with Jenny Greene & the RTÉ Concert Orchestra (Sunday 29 July - Sold Out).

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Previous festival highlights include Brian Wilson, Joni Mitchell, Bill Viola, The National, Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver, St. Vincent, John Grant, The Gloaming, Elvis Costello, John Gerrard, Hughie O’Donoghue, Sophie Calle, Louise Bourgeois, Cormac McCarthy, Ivo van Hove, David Hockney, Kronos Quartet, Philip Glass, Fabulous Beast, Michael Clark, Hofesh Shechter, Marina Abramovic, Steppenwolf, Royal Court, New York Theatre Workshop and Circa. GIAF also works regularly with leading Irish companies including Druid.


GIAF Productions & Touring

Galway International Arts Festival also produces its own theatre productions and exhibitions, and tours them nationally and internationally. In the last five years, the organisation has produced or co-produced 15 productions and, with its co-producing partners, has toured to London, Paris, New York, Edinburgh, Chicago, Adelaide, Sydney, Hong Kong and Washington. 

Complicité and Wayward Productions in association with Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival will present Max Porter's Grief is the Thing with Feathers, adapted and directed by Enda Walsh, at the Black Box Theatre in Galway in March 2018 before it transfers to the O'Reilly Theatre in Dublin. 

Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival will also tour to St Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York in January, with Ballyturk, which opened the Abbey Theatre's new season in January 2017. 

Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival co-production Woyzeck in Winter transferred to London’s prestigious Barbican Centre in September and Dublin Theatre Festival in October following its world premiere at the Galway International Arts Festival in July 2017.

The organisation’s other recent work includes Arlington, by Tony Award winning playwright Enda Walsh, (a co-production with Landmark Productions), which premiered at Galway International Arts Festival 2016, toured to the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in March 2017, and had its New York premiere at St. Ann’s Warehouse in May 2017.

Galway International Arts Festival’s hit installation Rooms, also written and directed by Enda Walsh, made its New York premiere in May this year also. The installation, which is a series of three short works - Room 303, A Girl’s Bedroom and Kitchen - premiered at Galway International Arts Festival between 2014 and 2016 and were presented together under the collective title of Rooms at the Festival in July 2016. A Girl’s Bedroom also toured to the Kennedy Center, Washington DC in 2016. Enda Walsh's fourth Room, Bathroompremiered at this year's Galway International Arts Festival. 

Other notable productions include Ballyturk (co-produced with Landmark Productions), starring Cillian Murphy, Mikel Murfi and Stephen Rea, which won Best Production at the Irish Theatre Awards 2014.

Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival’s production of Misterman by Enda Walsh starring Cillian Murphy played Galway, New York and London.

TheEmergencyRoom and Galway International Arts Festival’s production of riverrun, in association with Cusack Projects Ltd., by Olwen Fouéré, played Galway, London, Edinburgh, New York, Adelaide, Sydney and Washington. The same team produced Lessness by Samuel Beckett, also starring Olwen Fouéré, premiered at the Barbican’s International Beckett Season, London in 2015 and travelled to Paris in 2016.

Invitation to a Journey, a GIAF co-production with CoisCéim Dance Theatre, Crash Ensemble and Fishamble: The New Play Company, which premiered at GIAF 2016, toured to Dublin in July 2016, while Death at Intervals by Kellie Hughes, which also premiered at GIAF 2016, toured to Dublin Theatre Festival in October 2016.

The Galway International Arts Festival co-production with Northlight Theatre of Christian O’Reilly’s Chapatti, starring John Mahoney and Penny Slusher, premiered in Chicago in March 2014 and played in Galway during Festival 2014.

First Thought Talks & GIAF 

Galway International Arts Festival’s discussion platform First Thought Talks is a thought leadership platform focused on creativity that showcases thought-provoking discussion with both Irish and international thought leaders from a range of arts and non-arts disciplines on forward-thinking ideas and creative best practices.

First Thought Talks takes place each year as part of the festival, with a number live-streamed on the GIAF Facebook page. Increasingly, they are also held as stand-alone events outside the festival. The platform is a forum for discussion on creativity across a range of fields and disciplines, with the aim of engaging, informing and inspiring creative discourse.

Since its introduction in 2012, the programme has developed significantly, with 17 events with 40 panelists, including the writer Colm Tóibín, RTÉ’s Caitriona Perry, Psychologist Maureen Gaffney and Syrian Architect Marwa Al-Sabouni, discussing the single theme of 'power' at Galway International Arts Festival 2017. Galway International Arts Festival has also staged two international First Thought Talks - with Galway adventurer and solo transatlantic rower, Gavan Hennigan and the playwright Enda Walsh

Galway International Arts Festival First Thought Talk with Enda Walsh


Past participants include former president Mary Robinson, producer and musician Nile Rodgers, John Mullholland, Editor of The Observer (UK), actors John Mahoney and Cillian Murphy, BBC TV presenter Dr Gabriel Weston, Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Great Britain Nicholas Hytner and Michael Dowling, CEO of one of the biggest private health facilities in the world.

GIAF’s Chief Executive is John Crumlish and its Artistic Director is Paul Fahy.