Discover the creative roots of the most imaginative arts Festival in Ireland.
The Festival... creative collisions for a new perspective
Galway International Arts Festival is the Festival of extraordinary experiences, a creative collision of performance, music, visual art, theatre and spectacle. Whether turning a small Irish city on its head for two weeks, taking work on an international tour, or being a forceful year-round presence, every experience of the Galway International Arts Festival is an unforgettable encounter.
Rooted in Galway, the Festival unlocks people's passions and inspires new ways of thinking and acting. We are creative collision makers, sparking connections between the arts, between audiences and performers, between Galway and the world. Every encounter with Galway International Arts Festival is an invitation to join our 21st cultural pilgrimage, seeking new horizons, embracing creativity and the unexpected.
Strolling along the cobbled streets, every turn offers the possibility for new adventure: surreal giant puppets snaking through the streets, enchanting music, enthralling musicans and awe-inspiring street theatre.
From the all-out party atmosphere at the Absolut Big Top to the quiet contemplation in the Festival galleries, the Festival transforms the city through the arts in an engaging, fun and authentic way. If you happen to visit Galway during the Festival, expect to be transformed too.
The Festival is special. Worlds, cultures and dreams collide, inspiring passion, creativity and new ways of thinking.
Galway International Arts Festival has been connecting audiences and artists for over 39 years. Founded in 1978, it has grown into an event with a major reputation where, in 2016, there were 200,000 attendances at 200 performances, talks and exhibitions in 26 venues over 14 days.
The Festival was established by a group of fledgling and experienced artists, who, sitting around a kitchen table one afternoon, dreamed of bringing world-class artists to Ireland, while also supporting Irish artists and showcasing their work on the world stage, creating unique and wonderful experiences for all...and so they did.
The Festival has contributed massively to placing Galway firmly on the map, as both a key cultural centre for the arts and a cultural tourism destination. The Festival has also founded and acted as a seedbed for a number of well-known and established arts organisations in Galway.
Galway International Arts Festival presents and produces programmes of the highest quality across all art forms, featuring theatre, music, visual arts, opera, street spectacle, dance, discussion and comedy. The Festival is committed to continually developing and producing new work, which tours internationally. In 2014, the Festival’s co-productions - Ballyturk, riverrun and Chapatti toured extensively throughout Ireland, UK, USA and Australia. Visiting international theatre and dance companies have included John Mahoney and Northlight Theatre, Cillian Murphy, Enda Walsh, The Royal National Theatre, Propeller, The Royal Court, Steppenwolf, Fabulous Beast Dance Company, Hofesh Shechter Dance Company, The Abbey Theatre, Druid Theatre Company and the Bristol Old Vic.
Highlights from the music programme in recent years include: Elvis Costello, Suede, The National, St. Vincent, Primal Scream, Philip Glass, New York Dolls, David Gray, David Byrne, Brad Mehldau, Blondie, Kronos Quartet, Brodsky Quartet, Bon Iver, David Hockney and Joni Mitchell. The Festival has also included the works of Patricia Picinini, Henri Matisse and David Mach.
Our mission is to be a 21st Century Pilgrimage that delivers a world-class Festival experience and is an artistic leader in the presentation and origination of work.
What the press says...
'a powerhouse of ideas and innovation' - The Guardian
“The biggest, most exciting, most imaginative explosion of arts activity this country has.” – The Irish Times
“A glorious kaleidoscopic fortnight of events.” – The Irish Examiner
“This year's Galway fortnight made you look at life anew. ” – The Irish Times
“One of Europe's most important cultural events.” – BBC TV
“The spirit of Galway International Arts Festival is all-inclusive, accessible and always open to suggestion. Contemporary festivals fall over themselves to state their commitment to both street and ‘high art’. The difference in Galway is, that ambition is realised.” – The Observer
“It's festival season, one event triumphs them all - Galway Arts Festival.” – The Irish Independent
“Galway... one of the most significant arts Festivals anywhere.” – The Irish Independent