Clifden Arts Festival promises to ‘educate, entertain and enchant’

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Hermitage Green, The Kilfenora Ceili Band, Paddy Cole, Phil Coulter and Johnny McEvoy are among the many names who will be taking part in the 39th Clifden Arts Festival, which runs from September 15 – 25. The festival features more than 200 diverse, eclectic events in an exciting programme filled to the brim with literature, theatre, music events, workshops, comedy and visual art spectacles. Renowned for nurturing the arts amongst young people, the event inspires and enchants visitors and locals. Taking place in venues across the town, 10 days of artistic adventures await old and young alike at Ireland’s longest running arts festival.

Highlights include a concert by The Vanbrugh Quartet, and gifted musician and composer Colm Mac Con Iomaire, who will take to the stage with mesmerising guitar playing. The multi-award winning We Banjo 3 will also perform, combining the power of the fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo in an incredibly emotive way. Literary events will see dozens of readings with some of the most celebrated authors and poets in the world, such as the Gallery poets, Abbey Theatre playwright Michael Harding and writer Donal Ryan who won the European Union Prize for Literature last year as well as being nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize for his novel ‘The Spinning Heart’.

Spectacular theatre and drama productions are another feature of the festival. Following their appearance at the Kilkenny Arts Festival, the internationally acclaimed Footsbarn Theatre Company will showcase their unique blend of visual theatre, music and magic for two nights of great shows at the Arts festival. Renowned for its exciting adaptations of classics such as Shakespeare and Moliere they have transcended the barrier of language through gold-standard performances such as ‘The Incomplete Works of Shakespeare’ and ‘The Cuckoos Nest’. Another crowd pleaser will be the award-winning one man show written and performed by Aidan Dooley, which tells the heroic tale of Tom Crean, the intrepid Irish Antarctic explorer.

This year the festival has pop up cinemas which will include a screening of Fís na Fuiseoige – The Lark’s View, the directorial debut by west Kerry man Aodh Ó Coileáin, who brings to the fore the voluptuousness of the Irish language in both the history it carries, its connection to place and the differing understandings of life that it carries. Using drone technology, Ó Coileáin offers a slow, contemplative picture of an Irish landscape seldom before captured so evocatively.

The visual art dimension includes an exhibit of inspirational works by internationally renowned sculptor John Behan. The annual Clifden arts trail will transform the town into a gallery of the imagination, as show windows and public spaces host group and solo exhibitions. The well renowned RHA exhibition will showcase various artistic genres and eclectic collections from contemporary Irish artists such as James Hanley, Una Fealy, Alice Maher, Donald Teskey and Mick O’Dea.

There’s loads to do and see for family entertainment, like Fidget Feet’s spectacular acrobatics, free activities and workshops. The pint-sized Irish aerial circus company tell stories from cranes, forests, or swinging from buildings – or anywhere else they can think of! In recent years the Festival Finale has established itself as one of the must-see events – a joyous blend of visual arts and song, the culmination of unique collaborations and unmissable performances. The finale also features the Grand Parade, which will see acrobats, jugglers, face painters, singers, dancers, live music and the famous fireworks extravaganza.