1. MEDIEVAL MARVEL: Like your arts festivals with a large dose of history? Galway is packed with tales from its past as a walled medieval city. Special mention goes to the 13th century St Nicholas’s church (don’t miss the gargoyle waterspouts) and the King’s Head Pub, originally known as Banks Castle.
2. AWARD-WINNING FOOD: Dine out on fresh seafood at Oscar’s Seafood Bistro, sweet treats in the Secret Garden Café, Burren Smokehouse mackerel salad in Ard Bia, and culinary masterpieces in the Michelin-starred Aniar. As always in Ireland, toasted cheese and ham sandwiches in the nearest pub is a quick and tasty fix.
Relaxing at Ti Neachtain
3. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Bang on the Wild Atlantic Way, away from the urban buzz are sleepy seaside villages, hidden coves and rugged landscapes. Take a beachside canter on a Connemara pony in Clifden or go-island hopping around the Aran Islands. Skip over to County Clare for a gander at the giant Cliffs of Moher and the lunar-like landscape of the Burren.
4. VENUES & VARIETY: This festival packs in over 200 shows in 25+ locations over 14 days. As for the venues, no space is left untouched: buzzing galleries, intimate theatres, outdoor performances and, of course, the blue and beautiful Big Top tent.
Enjoying the view
5. THE ARTISTS: Expect an eclectic mix of artists – from Amy Conroy to Patricia Piccinini and Hofesh Shechter – coming together to put on a show of the traditional, the contemporary and the controversial. Think surprising sculptures, science fiction and ‘meta-perceptual helmets’.
6. THE SPECIAL SPECTACLES: Death-defying stilt walking stunts, a man on the moon and the fascinating Skywhale – one of THE most talked-about outdoor artworks (hailing all the way from Australia).
Macnas street parade
7. DRAMATIC TALES: Powerful plays from Brett Bailey, Frank McGuinness, and Enda Walsh's 'A girl's bedroom'. Humorous but haunting work by Amy Conroy, and Olwen Fouéré’s take on Samuel Beckett’s ‘Lessness’. Galway goes all in for drama.
8. THE PEOPLE: Fact: people make the place. Galway is a lively, buzzing city all year round – and so are its people. Friendly, laid-back and charming, pull up a stool at any local bar and in no time you’ll be chatting with locals over a pint.
Juuuust in case you need more reasons than that to visit, here’s a big one: the
Wild Atlantic Way.
The Galway International Arts Festival runs from 13-26 July 2015. Get your tickets here.