What To Do in Galway During GIAF21?

13 August 2021

The festival atmosphere will be in full swing in the City of the Tribes this autumn as Galway International Arts Festival returns 28 August - 18 September for three weeks of theatre, art, music and culture along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Whether you’re a day tripper, an overnighter, or even a Galway native, you’re sure to find something new and exciting in this year’s programme.

We’ve got you covered with performances to enjoy, places to stay, and things to see and do during Galway International Arts Festival. Just check our curated top picks below:

What To Do If You’re in Galway for a Day

Recommended Picks for Families

Sruth na Teanga, Galway Airport, 1-18 September
Embark on an unforgettable journey through the epic story of the Irish language.
The legendary Fianna, Ireland’s Golden Age, and the Great Famine come vividly to life as audiences travel through immersive and enthralling worlds.
Suitable for all levels of English and Irish. Recommended for ages 7+
Book tickets

A Handful of Dreams, Commercial Boating Club, Woodquay, 4-5 September & 8-12 September
A Handful of Dreams combines aerial and circus arts with live Irish traditional music and dance.
This explosion of music, dance, and aerial acrobatics, with a gloriously joyful soundscape will bring joy to the hearts of each audience member.
Outdoors and Standing.
Book Free Tickets

See a New Show at GIAF21

Bedsit, Columban Hall, 6-18 September
Bedsit is the eighth in the Rooms series of ‘beautiful and haunting’ immersive theatre installations by Enda Walsh and Paul Fahy.
A new instalment has premiered at Galway International Arts Festival every year since 2014 and the series has toured to Washington DC, New York City and London.
Book Tickets Now

Volcano, Nun’s Island Theatre, 30 August - 11 September
Volcano is a new work by creative force Luke Murphy. Part theatre, part dance, part sci-fi thriller, Volcano can be enjoyed as a series or as a standalone piece.
Also available to watch online from 6 September
Book tickets now

Visit the city centre Festival Gallery

Precarious Freedom: Crowds, Flags, Barriers by Joy Gerrard
& House of Memory by Architecture at the Edge
1-18 September
Precarious Freedom: Artist Joy Gerrard will exhibit a series of drawings made during 2020 and 2021 and two new large–scale installation works. Drawing on over a decade of image–making and research on themes of protest and urban space, her subjects include climate change, Brexit, BLM protests and women’s equality.
​​Architecture at the Edge's House of Memory installation invites the public to share their personal experience of loss and grief during the pandemic. Viewers are offered a platform to lament that loss within the structure by leaving a memento or a short written message in remembrance and as a symbol of hope for the future.
Pre-book Free Tickets to the Festival Gallery

What to Do in Galway for a Weekend

Blackrock, Salthill
Enjoy a 99 Ice Cream as you watch sea swimmers jump off Blackrock Diving Tower. Photo by Mary McGraw

Named #4 in Lonely Planet's Top Cities in 2020, one of ‘Ireland’s most charming cities’ by The New York Times and one of the ‘best trips of 2019,’ there’s no shortage of things to do in Galway on a weekend city break.

Take a spin out to Salthill or Silverstrand beach for a dip in the sea, visit the weekend Galway Market just outside St Nicholas’ Church, and soak up the vibes on Quay Street. Whether you’re searching for your daily caffeine fix or the perfect pint, you’ll find cosy cafés and pubs around every corner, as well as award-winning restaurants to suit every taste.

Where to Stay in Galway August-September 2021

Some of the best hotels and B&Bs in the city are also Friends and loyal supporters of the Festival. Check out our recommendations here.

Dinner and a Show at GIAF21

Book tickets for an in-person trip to the theatre, then browse our guide to quirky local eateries and top-rated restaurants to sample during your stay.

There are Little Kingdoms, Town Hall Theatre, 1-11 September
Based on Kevin Barry’s award-winning short stories, There are Little Kingdoms is a thoughtful, provocative, and riotously entertaining look at contemporary Irish life.
Book tickets now

Blindness, Mick Lally Theatre, 11-18 September
‘An exquisitely told story’ ★★★★ The Guardian
Listen on headphones as Juliet Stevenson’s gripping narration unfolds around you.
The Donmar Warehouse’s Blindness comes to Galway after hugely successful runs in New York, Hong Kong, Mexico City, New Zealand, and the UK.
Book tickets now

Visual Arts Exhibitions to Explore Throughout Galway City & County

World-class visual arts exhibitions are tucked away all around Galway city and county as part of GIAF21, including the city centre Festival Gallery nestled at the top of Shop Street.
See full Visual Arts listings here

Things to Do in County Galway

Venture outside the city for a memorable journey along the breathtaking Wild Atlantic Way.

Mirror Pavilion, Leaf Work, Derrigimlagh Bog, 28 August - 18 September

Spectacular outdoor installation Mirror Pavilion, Leaf Work by John Gerrard will be located at the 4,000–year–old Derrigimlagh Bog in Connemara, a short drive from Clifden. Plan a picnic or a hike to take in this unique combination of cutting-edge artwork and stunning natural scenery.
Commissioned by GIAF for Galway 2020, European Capital of Culture, the Pavilion is a striking structure with three sides and the roof clad in a highly reflective mirror. The fourth wall is a high-resolution LED wall, which will host an astonishingly realistic virtual world. Leaf Work is a response to the escalating climate crisis and responds to and reflects its location on the Irish landscape.
Plan Your Visit

Cogadh na Saoirse, Fíbín Teo in Inverin, 27 August - 5 September
Cogadh na Saoirse is a multi–stage visual spectacle where colourful characters share stories and perspectives on Ireland's War of Independence.
Using Connemara as a stunning open-air backdrop, Cogadh na Saoirse is gut– wrenchingly funny and heartbreakingly sad, ambitious, and surreal.
Suitable for English and Irish speakers. Outdoors, standing performance.
Book Tickets Now

Laethanta Sona [Happy Days], Inis Oírr, Aran Islands, 30 August - 5 September
Happy Days is being performed on the spectacular landscape of Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands off the coast of County Galway.
This piece will resonate for lovers of Beckett, language, the environment and the visual arts as the Irish language combines with the searing beauty of Beckett’s imagery and the island landscape.
Performed in Irish. Outdoors, standing performance.
Book Tickets Now

Planning Your Visit & Your Safety

Galway International Arts Festival is committed to prioritising your health and safety. Please read our COVID-19 Safety Information, and our FAQs, to help you plan your visit.

Stay tuned for guides to online and free events coming soon.

About Galway International Arts Festival

Galway International Arts Festival 2021 takes place 28 August - 18 September with online and in person events in Galway city and county.

Galway International Arts Festival acknowledges the support of its principal funding agencies, The Arts Council and Fáilte Ireland, Galway City Council, its Education Partner NUI Galway, its Energy Partner Flogas, and Drinks Partner Heineken®.

Galway International Arts Festival would like to acknowledge the support of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture for funding Mirror Pavilion, and for the additional support provided by Festival Energy Partner Flogas, Festival Partner Aerogen and Bluesky Ireland.