The official programme of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture was launched on Wednesday 18th September, by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D.

Minister Madigan was joined by Chairperson, Arthur Lappin, along with Creative Director of Galway 2020 Helen Marriage, at a large open-air event in Eyre Square, Galway, for the launch.

Galway 2020 is the largest and most complex cultural event ever undertaken on the island of Ireland, comprising of over 1,900 events across 154 projects, 170 partnerships and collaborations with local, national, European and international artists and cultural organisations from over 30 different countries.

The ambitious programme will take place across the villages, towns, islands and city of Galway and, in recognition of Ireland’s traditions, will be based around the four fire seasons of Ireland’s ancient Celtic calendar: Imbloc, Bealtaine, Lughnasa and Samhain.

Galway 2020 will begin on 1st February with week-long celebrations in towns and villages across the county, culminating in a large public ceremony on 8th February in Galway city. Seasonal ceremonies will mark the progression of the Galway 2020 programme, which will run through until the end of January 2021. To celebrate the end of a 12 months for Galway as European Capital of Culture, the closing event will transform Galway into a glittering gallery without walls.

Galway 2020 will host 30 projects celebrating the Irish language; 125 world premieres and 135 Irish premieres. The programme themes of landscape, language and migration are interwoven throughout the programme with national and international artists responding to these themes.

Major events taking place across the year will include a spectacle designed by Finnish light artist Kari Kola that will be on display in Connemara, a new J M Synge festival to take place in Galway and the Aran Islands, and celebrations around International Women’s Day which will include a visit by Margaret Atwood.

The European Capital of Culture (ECOC) is a national designation and the initiative, which began in 1985, has developed into one of the most ambitious cultural projects in Europe. The goal of the project is to provide Europeans with opportunities to learn more about each other’s cultures, to enjoy their shared history and values and to experience the feeling of belonging to the same European community.

President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, said: “Galway 2020 will be an Irish programme, with universal relevance and resonance. 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 (‘samhlaiìocht’ in the ancient Irish language), and that appreciates the coming together of creativity, talent and a good story. Samhlaiìocht 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.”

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