History

GIAF celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2017. Join us for a trip back in time...

Galway International Arts Festival has been connecting audiences and artists for over 40 years.

Founded in 1978, it has grown into an event with a major reputation where, in 2018, there were 250,000 attendances at 200 performances, talks and exhibitions in 33 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.

Highlights from the music programme in recent years include: The Flaming Lips, Brian Wilson, 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.

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, Gravity and Other Myths, the Irish National Opera, The Abbey Theatre, Druid Theatre Company and the Bristol Old Vic.

The Festival is also committed to continually developing and producing new work, which goes on to tour nationally and internationally. Twenty-three productions/co-productions have been produced in the past seven years, while GIAF has commissioned four major exhibitions. With co-producing partners, GIAF has toured to London, New York, Edinburgh, Chicago, Adelaide, Sydney, Hong Kong, Washington and Prague.

In 2012, Galway International Arts Festival premiered a discussion strand of the Festival. This thought leadership platform, First Thought Talks, puts a spotlight on issues of the day and showcases thought-provoking discussion on forward-thinking ideas and creative best practices.

To date, First Thought Talks have taken place in Galway and the United States, with thousands of viewers from around the world tuning in to livestreams. The series includes discussions with both Irish and international thought leaders from a range of arts and non-arts disciplines, and aims to significantly progress the position of culture and creativity in society and make it a central pillar of Irish life.

Galway International Arts Festival is proud of our history, and we’re even more excited for our future. Keep up with everything happening now at GIAF by signing up for our newsletter and by following us on twitter, facebook, and instagram.