A Love Letter to the Galway Arts Festival

I adore Galway at this time of year, or festival season as we locals call it. I know if might seem to outsiders as if every time of the year is festival season in Galway but July is when it really kicks off here. Starting with the Film Fleadh and ending with the Galway Races (which is something of a nadir for us-think insane levels of drunken yobbery pissing on windows in front of horrified diners and all sorts of Sodom and Gomorrah type delights. Sandwiched in between the sublime and the ridiculous is the glorious Galway Arts Festival.

It’s fair to say that there’s something magical about this time of year in Galway. The fabled big top appears on the horizon-a royal blue construction, home to musical talents from around the globe. Over the years I’ve seen acts as diverse as Suede, Blondie, Femi Kutu, Bon Iver and just last Sunday I got to enjoy Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys performing one of my favourite albums, Pet Sounds.

The Big Top at the Galway Arts Festival
The Big Top at the Galway Arts Festival

Arts, plays and spectacles are around at every corner and all roads seem to lead to Eyre Square. Say what you want about Galway being the graveyard of ambition but if there’s one thing they do well here, it’s the Arts.

I love nothing more than escaping into the midst of this creative buzz and soaking it all in. Of course being a parent means I have to modify my expectations somewhat. Mini was in summer camp all last week so I had some to kill so myself and Mini Mini headed in to town.

Crowds of tourists and locals alike surrounded us as we made our way down a soaked yet thronged Quay Street, sadly sidestepping the bright yellow jackets of the Arts Fesyival volunteers. (These guys are a fountain of knowledge so if you have any queries about venues and events, be sure to ask them!)

I headed for brunch with my littlest in tow. Ard Bia in Nimmo’s is the perfect Arts Festival brunch location with a gorgeous menu to enjoy right in the centre of things. I wolfed down the avocado and eggs while my gracious partner enjoyed pancakes with mascarpone and wild berries.

I find it a challenge to bring the minis places when it’s just me. Mini loves to escape at every opportunity and sometimes she’ll take a notion and I really wanted to experience a whole day at the Galway Arts Festival and enlisted the help of a mate to navigate the wonders on offer with the minis.

Over the years we’ve been treated to the giant red ball, and other wonderours spectacles which deliver an extraordinary twist on the ordinary. This year, we got a peak inside the mind of a man who designed architectural glories out of the humble cardboard box. French artist Olivier Grossetete designs beautiful ‘buildings’ using hundreds of cardboard boxes and lots of willing local helpers.

The result as you can see was nothing short of spectacular and the minis were enraptured with ‘the palace’.  

Then it was time for Mobile Homme, a spectacular drumming and gymnastics troupe, again hailing from France. Down they came through the heart of the city, loud drumming heralding their arrival. I was afraid Mini would be scared bythe noise but I need not have worried. Her placing of her hands over her ears was for comedic effect, not because she was alarmed! The troupe were then attached to a crane and lifted high into the air, where they performed with a trapeze artist for the crowds below.
The girls loved every minute of the performance. It was another magical day out during the Galway Arts Festival and one that made me feel so lucky we live where we live! 


The 40th international Galway Arts Festival runs from now until July 30th at various venues around the city. Come and see the place at its best! Check out giaf.ie for more information!








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