Galway 2020 programme: Margaret Atwood, Homer's Odyssey beach tour, light art in Connemara among highlights
Official programme of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture launched in Eyre Square
The team behind the spectacular ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics will be kicking off Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture with a fiery opening ceremony.
Wonder Works, led by Piers Sheperd and Jeremy Lloyd, will produce the event which will feature a cast from communities from across Galway city and county.
It will run for an entire week from Feburary 1 to 8, 2020, erupting in towns and villages across the county before culminating in a large public ceremony on February 8 in the city.
It's one of the highlights of the official programme announced today in Eyre Square, Galway which will showcase all aspects of culture across Ireland and Europe through food, dance, literature, visual arts, poetry, theatre, and sport across the year.
Other highlights of the year include Connemara being illuminated by Finnish light artist Kari Kola. A 4000 year old Connemara bog will also play host to a giant mirror pavilion by Irish artist John Gerrard.
Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale and its just-published sequel The Testaments, will also return to Ireland to take part in International Women's Day celebrations.
American artist David Best, of Burning Man fame, will create a new work with young people from Derry and Galway while Homer's Odyssey will be presented on a tour of the beaches of Galway.
In theatre, Druid Theatre will take Ireland's greatest one-act plays to towns and villages across the county and there will be enhanced programmes for Galway's music and theare festivals.
There will also be a celebration of J M Synge, a key figure in the Irish Literay Revival and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre, in a major new festival in Galway and the Aran Islands and a new interpretation of literary epic Gilgamesh by Galway storytellers Macnas, written by Marina Carr and designed by Julian Crouch.
Music-wise, Galway will join with Boston, Belfast and Nashville to host concerts by stars of country, blues, gospel, folk and bluegrass.
The Crossing the Line Festival will be a pan-European festival of outstanding work made by Irish and European artists with intellectual disabilities and the poignan Unsung Project will explore, through immersion in light and sound, the lives of mothers and children who lived and died in state institutions.
Also, Galway 2020 will host 30 projects celebrating the Irish language; 125 world premieres and 135 Irish premieres.
As the Brexit deadline looms next month, The European Capital of Culture programme announcement celebrates the connections between the countries of Europe.
It began in 1985 with the goal of providing Europeans with opportunities to learn about each other's cultures, enjoy their shared history and alues, and experience the feeling of belonging to the same European community.
It will be the largest and most complex cultural event ever undertaken in the country with more than 1900 events across 154 projects, 170 partnerships and collaborations with local, national, European and international artists and cultural organisations from over 30 different countries.
All events will take place across the villages, towns, city, and islands of Galway and will be based around the four fire seasons of Ireland’s ancient Celtic calendar Imbloc, Bealtaine, Lughnasa and Samhain.
The programme, which will run until the end of January 2021 when the closing event will transform Galway into a "glittering gallery without walls", was launched today by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan and Chairperson, Arthur Lappin along with Creative Director Helen Marriage with President of Ireland Michael D Higgins in attendance.
President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, said, "The festival will provide uniquely Galwegian, Irish and international perspectives exploring those quintessential Irish themes of language, landscape and migration.
“Ours is a society that values the work of the imagination (‘samhlaíocht’ in the ancient Irish language), and that appreciates the coming together of creativity, talent and a good story. Samhlaíocht has been central in both the creation and redefinition of Irish identity throughout our history, and Galway 2020 rightfully celebrates its pivotal significance, too, for Ireland’s future.
“In the Irish language, a ‘meitheal’ describes the tradition in which people in rural communities gathered together to help each other with labour intensive tasks, on the basis of a sense of community and reciprocity. Likewise, Galway 2020, through its spirit of team work, inclusiveness and participation, will, I am sure, become a celebration of the ‘meitheal’ of the local, national and European communities of which we all are part”.
For more information check out galway2020.ie