Family Friendly

Galway is bursting with family-friendly activities year-round, but especially during the Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF) each July.

The Festival has long served as one of children’s first introductions to the arts, bringing spectacle, light and colour to Galway’s city streets and creative venues every summer. 

GIAF has been inspiring awe in the young and ‘young at heart’ for the past 41 years, always delivering the finest of family-friendly fare, and 2018 will be no different!

Street spectacle

Galway International Arts Festival’s street spectacle programme mesmerises Galway each year, as families turn out in their thousands to enjoy free fun shows on the city’s streets.

Street spectacle highlights in recent years have included The People Build (2017), when the public were invited to take part in a large-scale architectural event devised by French artist Olivier Grossetête.

Over four days, thousands of cardboard boxes were transformed into a replica of Galway’s university, NUI Galway, which was then demolished in city centre park Eyre Square, much to the delight of all the children that took part in the destruction!  

Expect the unexpected when it comes to street spectacle at Galway International Arts Festival - Mobile Homme (2017) saw performers lifted 100 feet into the air while playing the drums to create a giant human mobile, Sarruga's Insects (2016) saw fire-breathing insects, beautiful butterflies and giant dragons invade the streets, while Transe Express’ enormous opera-singing dolls The Giant Divas captivated festivalgoers with their hypnotic songs in 2015. You never know what you’re going to get at GIAF!

GIAF’s street spectacle programme is all about creating a spectacular new world in the midst of the everyday. Free to all, always surprising and guaranteed to amuse, Galway International Arts Festival’s street spectacle programme is not to be missed! 

Visual Arts

Carefully chosen and curated to entertain and educate, GIAF’s visual arts programme astounds each year, with lots to interest inquiring little minds.

Australian artist Patricia Piccinini (2015) charmed young and ‘young at heart’ alike when she brought her fantastical works to Galway. A hit with both children and parents, the free events featuring her work are among the most talked about, most loved visual highlights in the Festival’s illustrious history.

Families turned out day after day to catch a glimpse of Piccinini’s enormous Sky Whale hot air balloon floating over the city’s River Corrib, while thousands more flocked to see her half-human, half-beast sculptures at the Festival Gallery. From small unidentifiable fuzzy creatures to child-size life-like creations, Piccinini’s Relativity exhibition lived long in the memory for those lucky enough to see it at GIAF.

Another visual arts highlight in recent years was American artist Kurt Perschke’s Red Ball Project (2014), which saw a huge red ball installed in the most unlikely of places - narrow laneways, the iconic Spanish Arch – much to the delight of children and grown-ups who followed its journey around the city through social media, snapped photos and wondered exactly what was inside that Big Red Ball!   

Theatre

Sparking imagination, encouraging communication and improving concentration - the performing arts can have endless benefits for children. GIAF’s theatre programme features lots for little ones to experience and enjoy, often creating life-long fans of the theatre!

Theatre highlights for children in recent years include 2017 GIAF favourite How to Catch a Star. Combining puppetry with a magical original score by Colm Mac Con Iomaire, the performance reminded us all to follow our dreams.

A very special family event, this creative, inspiring show by Branar Téatar do Pháistí captured the essence of the beloved book by award-winning Irish author Oliver Jeffers.

GIAF also last year hosted Casus Circus, one of Australia’s most exciting contemporary circus companies, who wowed audiences with their show Driftwood, a spectacular display of choreography, acrobatics, trapeze and aerial stunts.

Described by The Edinburgh Festival List as “circus that makes you glad you are there in the moment watching it and not anywhere else”, the show captured all that’s best about families making memories together through the arts.

A family-friendly festival of epic proportions, make memories with your little ones this year at the 2018 Galway International Arts Festival!