2022 was all about being back for Galway International Arts Festival. The Festival returned to its regular summer dates in July and returned to full capacity indoors and outdoors, inviting audiences from near and far to experience extraordinary cultural events at GIAF 2022.
Once more, Galway was our stage to play on. The Heineken Big Top and Festival Garden returned, spectacle was back on the streets, festival venues were filled every night at comedy, theatre, and dance performances, thousands visited the various galleries and the city played host to a number of large scale installations.
‘Galway blazes a trail yet again.’
‘Galway is hot and hopping!’
Over the course of 14 days, the Festival welcomed over 300,000 attendances to over 200 events in every corner of Galway City. A picture is worth a thousand words, here are some of our visual highlights from GIAF 2022:
THE RETURN OF THE HEINEKEN BIG TOP
There are few greater sights than seeing the beloved big blue tent return to Galway’s skyline. And what better way to kick off the much anticipated return than with two sold-out nights with the legendary Pixies! And that was just the start of it. For two weeks music from The Flaming Lips, The Frames, The Stunning, Jon Hopkins, and The Academic rose up from Fisheries Field and floated down the Corrib River. People danced, sang, laughed, reunited with old friends, let loose and had mighty craic!
THE RETURN OF PUBLIC SPECTACLE
Spectacle, street performances and installations provide some of the most extraordinary experiences of the Festival and it was great to be back outdoors across the city again following the pandemic with something that was truly missed.
Compagnie Off’s Les Girafes promenaded with their beloved Operatic Diva and ringmasters from Eyre Square all the way to Spanish Arch followed by an audience of thousands while 150 performers, from primary-school children to retirees spent a full day of the Festival courageously crossing highwires over the Claddagh Basin and Corrib River. Galway Community Circus’ LifeLine event was truly a great spectacle, which also managed to convey an important message around mental health awareness in Ireland.
Alongside these spectacles were two incredible public installations. Mars by Luke Jerram, which by night provided one of the most photographed images of the two weeks and the amazing Flare by John Gerrard situated in the docks, which provided for a very stark reminder of the damage done by man to the oceans. In the months preceding the festival, Galway International Arts Festival had the privilege of touring John Gerrard’s Mirror Pavilion, Leaf Work to Biennale of Sydney, where it was situated in Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney’s Harbour foreshore park in the shadow of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Another hugely popular visual project was the incredible solo exhibition by Ana Maria Pacheco which included a major commission Remember at the Festival Gallery.
Wherever you went in Galway, there was always something special nearby, whether that was the Festival Garden, a performance, a huge public installation or Guru Dudu silently dancing down the streets with a group of headphone wearing festival-goers, Galway was buzzing.
THE RETURN TO FULL CAPACITY
After two years of restrictions, venues were back to full capacity and it was great to see people once again able to join together and enjoy great performances. Outstanding international shows, Steppenwolf Theatre’s True West, the amazing Home from Geoff Sobelle and Lewis Major’s Satori and Unfolding, sat alongside a host of great Irish work from Druid, Landmark Productions and Irish National Opera, Theatre Lovett, Decadent and Fíbín sa Taibhdhearc. The latest instalment in Enda Walsh’s Room series, concerts in St. Nicholas’ Church, Trad sessions and the very best of Irish music, and an enlightening First Thought programme, across various theatres and venues made for a great celebration of local, national, and international talent.
UNIVERSITY OF GALWAY EXPANSIONS
A number of exciting developments have been underway between GIAF and University of Galway. The university’s education partnership with the Festival has led to a three-year Government funding package for a new programme focusing on creative arts management, while the joint internship programme SELECTED, the partners’ professional development programme for emerging artists, theatre makers, curators and producers studying at University of Galway, was further developed.
The Festival was thrilled to see a number of nominations and winners of Irish Times Theatre Awards that had been part of the Galway International Arts Festival programme in 2021. Most notably, Enda Walsh’s Medicine (Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival); Ruth McCabe’s narration of Enda Walsh's Bedsit (Galway International Arts Festival); Laethanta Sona/Happy Days by Samuel Beckett (Company SJ and the Abbey Theatre in association with Dublin Theatre Festival and Galway International Arts Festival); and Volcano by Luke Murphy (Attic Projects) winner of Best Production. In addition, Galway International Arts Festival was honoured this year to be shortlisted in the B2A Awards for Best Long-Term Partnership for the Festival’s partnership with University of Galway.
The last day of the Festival coincided with the GAA All-Ireland football final and marked Galway's first football final appearance in over 20 years. In partnership with Galway City Council, the Festival hosted a big screen at the Heineken Big Top to allow Galwegians to come together to support the boys in maroon. Sadly, the result did not go Galway’s way but the atmosphere right up to the end was fantastic.
WHAT’S TO COME
The 46th Galway International Arts Festival will take place from 17-30 July 2023. The full Festival programme will be announced in May 2023 but tickets are now on sale for the first acts announced for the Heineken® Big Top line up, which includes Bell X1, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Kaiser Chiefs and Tones and I. More acts to be announced over the next two months.
Until then you can listen to the First Thought Podcast, which features a brand new series called Backstage with episodes every Friday, a new series of Vinyl Hours coming over the next number of months and a special episode on the making of Mirror Pavilion. Additionally, you can take a look back at some of the GIAF 2022 highlights in a 3-part episode produced by Andy Gaffney at The Shift Podcast.
Finally, we would like to thank all our artists, funders, sponsors, donors, Friends and our wonderful audiences for their support in 2022 and we look forward to seeing everyone in July.
Galway International Arts Festival would like to acknowledge the support of its principal funding agencies the Arts Council and Fáilte Ireland, Galway City Council, Education Partner University of Galway, Festival Energy partner Flogas and Drinks Partner Heineken®.