Clifden Arts Festival returns with Anchor theme and Spectacular line-up

Clifden Arts Festival returns with Anchor theme and Spectacular line-up

Prepare to be swept away by a tidal wave of creativity as the Clifden Arts Festival makes its triumphant return this September.

Renowned as Ireland's longest-running community arts festival, this year's event promises to be a celebration of the arts as a vital anchor, fostering inclusion and providing a platform for diverse voices and perspectives.

Under the theme "Anchor", the festival acknowledges the role of the arts in grounding communities, offering stability, and embracing diversity. From 18th to 29th of September, attendees will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a world of artistic wonder, featuring an extraordinary lineup of visual art exhibitions, live performances, workshops, and discussions with acclaimed writers, poets, and thinkers.

One of the highlights of this year's festival is a talk by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Bill O'Leary, who will explore the crucial topic of truth in media. O'Leary, a photojournalist for The Washington Post, played a pivotal role in the newspaper's award-winning coverage of the January 6th, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. His evocative photographs, capturing the chaos and intensity of that historic day, graced the front page of The Post and were instrumental in the publication's recognition by the Pulitzer committee. At the festival, O'Leary will discuss the power and responsibility of photojournalism in documenting reality.

Irish Traveller activist, educator, and writer Oein DeBhairduin will delve into his book Twiggy Woman, offering insights into his experiences and activism within the Traveller community.

Music enthusiasts will be treated to captivating performances by acclaimed artists, including Limerick band Hermitage Green, known for their uplifting and escapist sound, and Martin Hayes, a masterful talent in the world of Irish traditional music.

Cinematic storytelling takes centre stage with Ken O'Sullivan's live show "INTO THE DEEP," where the renowned underwater cameraman shares his incredible adventures exploring the North Atlantic Ocean. From encountering enormous whales to filming basking sharks, O'Sullivan's stories offer a mesmerising glimpse into the wonders of the underwater world.

Indie Rock N' Roll band The Burma will bring their infectious energy to the stage, captivating audiences with their glowing sound inspired by the American and British music scenes.

Fidget Feet, Ireland's national company for aerial arts, will dazzle spectators with their awe-inspiring aerial circus performances, while Lisa Lambe's project NightVisiting reconnects audiences to the rich tradition of Irish folklore through music and storytelling.

The Woodland Symposium exhibition, curated by Interface earlier this year, will also be featured at the festival. It includes Noelle Gallagher's short film Forest/ry, accompanied by a live cello performance by Eimear Reidy. This eight-minute piece, winner of the FICIMAD 2024 Best Documentary Sound award, promises to be a poignant and immersive experience.

As part of the Schools Programme of events, The Clifden Arts Festival champions cinematic exploration through its Film Festival, complemented by hands-on opportunities in the art of filmmaking. Filmmaking and Video Editing Workshops equip young filmmakers with essential skills, facilitated by the festival’s state-of-the-art cinematic equipment, including cameras, sound, and lighting. This setup provides students with access to professional filmmaking experiences.

Past projects have included the St. Mary’s Graveyard Documentary, screened at the Galway Junior Film Fleadh, Stop-Motion Animation with Lauren DeSalvo, and Filmmaking & Production with Lukasz Simon.

Students will also marvel as 2D cardboard shapes transform into lively characters in The Monster Making Machine. Each shape enters the machine, mixes, and emerges as a fully formed monster puppet, ready for a mini monster circus. But the show takes a twist when the star character gets stuck and needs help to escape!

Virtual arts projects, including Irish artist Mick O’Dea’s exhibition Portraits, will feature a selection of paintings of people including actors Olwen Fouéré and Stephen Rea. He is quoted as saying “Diligent examination of the surface might reveal something of what lies beneath.” The Exhibition Expedition tour bus will further enrich the festival experience, offering unique opportunities for engagement and exploration.

Additionally, Linda Schirmer's experimental dance film and performance, "Carrying Wood," will provoke thought and reflection on our connection to rural landscapes and the complexities of the energy crisis.

"We are thrilled to welcome attendees back to the Clifden Arts Festival, where creativity knows no bounds," said Desmond Lally, Festival Director. "This year's lineup promises to inspire, entertain, and unite audiences of all ages and backgrounds."

Don't miss your chance to anchor yourself in a world of artistic excellence at the Clifden Arts Festival. For more information and ticket bookings, visit

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