Take a Bow, Galway Arts Festival 2012

Oh, what a brilliant few weeks it has been. On behalf of all the GAF 2012 team, thank you so very much for your enduring support. Not only has it been another incredibly successful year, we have broken records for attendance across the board. A staggering 30,000 people turned out to see the fantastic Absolut Festival Gallery and a truly phenomenal 160,000 people attended the festival over two weeks. What can we say only a huge and heartfelt thanks. What an inspiration it is to see that despite everything – or perhaps because of it – a real love of the arts still exists in this country.

Over the course of the festival, various teams have been working away to ensure that events and experiences were captured for everyone to enjoy, now and always. GAF TV have been working especially hard, the fruits of which you can check out on their YouTube channel here, where you can enjoy highlights from this year’s festival, like this wonderful look at Macnas’s This Thunderous Heart:

While the two weeks in July when the festival takes place are GAF’s primary focus, work on the festival takes place all year round. For breaking news, exclusive content and to keep in the loop about next year’s preparations, not to mention enjoying the fruits of festivals past including this year’s, be sure to check out our website http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/, our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/galwayartsfestival and our Twitter feed https://twitter.com/galwayartsfest/ Over the next few days, we’ll be posting highlights of 2012, which you won’t want to miss.

All that remains is for us to say one final word of thanks to the people of Galway, all our sponsors, our fantastic performers, our volunteers and all of you who supported GAF 2012 in your thousands. Here’s to a record breaking 2013. We’ll leave you with a few exclusive images from this year’s magnificent festival, taken by Colm Hogan. Until next time.

Macnas turn the streets of Galway into a wonderland with This Thunderous Heart.

Artistic Director Paul Fahy basks in the fantastic setting of the Absolut Festival Gallery, which welcomed an amazing 30,000 people through its doors during the 2 weeks of the festival.

Spain’s Kamchatka perform their unique brand of street theatre for delighted on-lookers during GAF 2012.

A Moveable Feast: James Vincent McMorrow

The star of Dublin’s James Vincent McMorrow continues to climb and we’re delighted to be welcoming him to this year’s festival Big Top on July 26th. After the critical and commercial success of his debut album Early in the Morning, James has toured the world and played support to the likes of Al Green, Bon Iver and Iron and Wine. Not too shabby for a young fella who used to make his living pushing trolleys around Dublin airport.

James recently featured in the Guardian due to his participation in Bands in Transit, a web series looking at the role of humble transit van in the life of musicians, who use them to traverse the globe. Sure how else could you cart around all that gear? Like other artists featured in the series, including the chart topping Rizzle Kicks and the hotly tipped Ben Howard and Kyla La Grange, James performed in the back of a transit van, which you can watch below for a beautiful rendition of his hit, Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree.

Thanks to GAF and the Róisín Dubh, James plays the festival Big Top along with Lisa Hannigan and Elaine Mai on July 26th. Tickets are flying out the door for what will be an incredible evening so to secure yours, check out http://galwayartsfestival.com/

He’s Magic: Piff the Magic Dragon

The first thing you need to know about Piff the Magic Dragon is that he doesn’t do kids parties. The second thing is that Jonathan Ross is a big fan and lastly, that the BBC thinks he is ‘unbelievable’, as in, unbelievably good – and so do we. Piff, who forever lives in the shadow of his older brother (you might have heard of him), mixes amazing magic tricks with a fine line in grumpy but lovable humour to conjure up an act that has charmed audiences and gained raved reviews from Edinburgh to Australia.

Piff is the brainchild of John van der Put, a successful English magician who has worked with David Blaine and is one of the youngest magicians ever to address the renowned Magic Circle. For an evening of laughter and amazement you won’t have to wait long because Piff the Magic Dragon plays Kellys tonight. For more info and tickets, be sure to check out: http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/

We’re going to leave you with a clip of Piff performing for Penn and Teller that quickly went viral. You’ll soon see why.

The Wonderful World of Terry Alderton

Laughing – it’s great. Thankfully, Galway Arts Festival 2012 is choc full of funny bone ticklers including this man, the not-to-be-missed Terry Alderton. Labelled ‘astonishing’ by the Sunday Times and ‘hilarious’ by the Times, Perrier nominated Terry has stormed the Edinburgh Festival two years in a row, not to mention his star turn on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow (see below), which saw Mr. McIntyre declaring Terry’s performance to be ‘inspirational’.

Terry doing what he does best on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow.

It can be hard to believe that Terry used to be a professional footballer such are his comedic talents. Just ask Joan Rivers, who he recently worked with or indeed Eddie Izzard who described Terry as  ‘a very funny comic with a fantastic comedy mind’. High praise indeed. Interesting fact: very early in his career, Terry beat Chesney ‘I Am the One and Only’ Hawkes to a place on Sky’s Star Search, which Terry subsequently won. That’s a story we’d love to hear him tell.

Terry Alderton plays the Roisin Dubh on July 18th. Don’t leave it too late to get your ticket. Check out : http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/ We’ll leave you with Terry, who, as you’re about to hear is a man of many voices. Enjoy!

Piano Man: The Magic of Michael Kaeshammer

Being able to play the piano is an ambition many people have but few truly realize apart from the select, some would say chosen few of which Michael Kaeshammer is certainly one. After studying piano as a child in his native Germany, the young Michael became fascinated by the boogie-woogie playing style of Fats Waller. A few short years later, Michael was playing jazz clubs across Germany before moving to Canada where he has gone on to achieve huge acclaim, with Now magazine recently describing him as one of Canada’s hottest musical exports.

Jazz fans, piano lovers and indeed anyone with a love of breathtaking live performances will not want to miss the amazing Mr. Kaeshammer whose star is set to soar. For a taste of what you can expect, check out the clip of Michael performing his hit ‘Lovelight’ below. It will have you tapping your toes and humming along in an instant. Boogie-woogie indeed.

Michael Kaeshammer plays the Galway Arts Festival on July 23rd and 24th in the Roisin Dubh. To get your tickets and avoid disappointment, check out: http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/

The Magic of Macnas

Galway may sit on the western seaboard of a little island nation but culturally its reach and significance traverse the planet. Names like the Beauty Queen of Leenane, Misterman, Galway Arts Festival and Druid have not just local recognition but global recognition on a glittering scale that other cities of a similar size can only dream of.

Galway is different. Artistically, magical things happen here and then take flight. In recent years there has been perhaps no greater Galway success story than the rise and rise of the ground breaking, truly awe-inspiring Macnas, who, since their inception in 1986 have transformed street performance and parades into part fairytale, part mystical events whose visual delights and stunning artistry, make wide-eyed children of us all.

This year’s Macnas parade takes place on Saturday, July 22nd. This Thunderous Heart, directed by Noeline Kavanagh is sure to turn the streets of Galway into a world class spectacle. If you haven’t experienced a Macnas performance before, well what are you waiting for? Last year’s This Fierce Beauty garnered rave reviews and 2012 is sure to delight on the same scale. Macnas is something all the family can enjoy but be warned: get there in plenty of time as the streets will be thronged. For more info and to check out everything GAF-related, go to  http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/ and enjoy.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures taken by the blog team at last year’s Macnas parade, entitled This Fierce Beauty:

ABSOLUT Art 2012: Unmissable Mach

Though we may rarely realize it, the Bible has had a more profound effect on human existence than any other text. Our ideas of good and evil, of the afterlife and damnation spring from between its covers; to this day, its far reaching power remains.  Scottish artist and Turner Prize nominee David Mach has been so inspired by the King James Bible that his latest work Precious Light undertakes to explore the themes and legacies of what is the most influential book, ever.

Visually stunning: David Mach’s Precious Light

An exhibition that has taken over three years to complete, Precious Light is a visually arresting work utilizing collage, sculpture and words to profound effect. Housed in the ABSOLUT Festival Gallery (a venue the size of a football field, folks and designed especially for the festival going from a warehouse to a world class gallery in a matter of weeks) Precious Light was transported by 40 articulated trucks and is Mach’s largest exhibition to date.

Speaking about the ABSOLUT Festival Gallery, the biggest temporary structure of the festival, Artistic Director Paul Fahy says, ‘…the ABSOLUT Festival Gallery is going to look amazing again this year! We have a great new design for the gallery and the build is progressing really well and is the most ambitious gallery project of the Festival’s history. Artwork from around the world has begun to arrive in Galway. The gallery will be home to five extraordinary exhibitions from David Mach, Marina Abramovic with Charles Atlas, Brain Maguire, Joe Comerford and Lynne O’Loughlin with Pete Ray.’

Artistic Director Paul Fahy and David Mach take a break during the transformation of the ABSOLUT Gallery space.

The ABSOLUT Festival Gallery is a fantastic space and experience. It was one of the jewels in the crown of last year’s festival – a common refrain around Galway at the time was, ‘aww – can we not keep it?’ – and this year’s is guaranteed to be even more impressive. Full details on this amazing space and all of this year’s visual art exhibitions are available from http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/

How to Do Disco: A GAF Guide

With the legendary Nile Rodgers and Chic playing this year’s festival (along support from France’s much-loved Nouvelle Vague) to celebrate our Chic Week here on the GAF blog  we’ve come up with some style inspiration for what promises to be one of the best nights of 2012. So dust off those platforms, drape yourself in satin and sequins, not forgetting the all essential huge hair and sparkly blue eye shadow. Got it? Good. Now, set your phasers to ‘boogie wonderland’ and take a look at the disco royalty below (some of whom might look strangely familiar…):

We Are Family: GAF’s Artistic Director Paul Fahy really is the greatest dancer – and why wouldn’t he be in his fabulous John Travolta inspired white suit? Slap on the Bee Gees and start practicing your dance floor strut and remember lads, disco is not just for the ladies! Looking fabulous on the left is Box Office Manager Frances Burke who rocks the all important Donna Summer-esque slinky body suit, while on the right, Digital Media Manager Tracey Ferguson is a real disco inferno with the gravity defying big hair and loud prints the Seventies are so famous for. Freak out ? Don’t mind if we do.

As Paul illustrates so well here, a disco ball is an essential accessory for any Chic outfit. Glittery and magical, just like the heady days of disco. Shazam!

Chic is one of the most hotly anticipated gigs of the year. To avoid disappointment, book your tickets (and reserve your disco ball) now. For full booking information plus more of Reg Gordon’s brilliant Chic Week pictures check out http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/ And whatever you do, don’t leave it too late to start practicing your dance moves.

Are You Having A Laugh?

Here at GAF, we love a good giggle. That’s why every year we bring top quality comedy acts from across the world to Galway for two weeks of fun and laughter along with everything else. This year is no exception. Along with the lovely folk at Róisín Dubh Comedy, GAF is putting homegrown talent, new kids on the block and masters of the art of stand up centre stage with a comedy line-up that will be sure to tickle every funny bone from here to Timbuktu.

Fans of classic Eighties movies will know Michael Winslow from Gremlins and Police Academy. Having more recently lent his considerable voice skills to the likes of Family Guy and the Simpsons, Winslow’s sparkling stand-up routine has been described as ‘remarkable’ by the Guardian – and who are we to argue? Meanwhile, fans of Irish comedy will delight in the return of Jason Byrne, whose unique brand of lunacy has endeared him to audiences at home and abroad, on stage and on the small screen for many years. ‘Gas craic’ might as well be Mister Byrne’s middle name.

Fans of whip smart, tell-it-like-it-is comedy with bite will be delighted to welcome Reginald D. Hunter to Galway. Widely acknowledged as one of the most talented comics working today, prepare to hear the unspeakable spoken in Reginald’s brutally honest but always hilarious style. This is comedy that not only makes you laugh but also see the world differently. During the day, Galway comedy stalwart Gerry Mallon will be holding court in the Ruby Room at the Kings Head every lunch time, introducing a host of fantastic Irish comedians including Colm O’Regan, Maeve Higgins, Dave McSavage and many more.

We can’t sign off without mentioning Piff the Magic Dragon – you might have heard of his brother? Piff recently became a viral video sensation and is a must see for this year’s festival. For more info and to purchase those all important tickets, check out http://galwayartsfestival.com/ but for now, take a look at the wonderful Piff in action:

This Charming Band: West Cork Ukulele Orchestra

Uke, I am your father… West Cork Ukulele Orchestra in session at 2FM

If the Smiths had written This Charming Man about the West Cork Ukulele Orchestra, they would’ve called it the This Charming Band because charisma, talent and the feel-good-factor is something these West Cork guys and gals have in spades. Since their surprise appearance in the Slow Food corner of last year’s Electric Picnic, word-of-mouth buzz has seen the group pop up everywhere from Clonakilty to 2FM’s Breakfast with Hector, winning new fans by the bucket load. If you love savvy covers (think A-Ha, Cyndi Lauper and even Jessie J) beautiful harmonies and great craic, you can’t afford to miss the West Cork Ukulele Orchestra. They’ll charm the pants off you – so maybe bring a spare pair. The gang play the Roisin Dubh on July 16th. For booking details and more, click here:  http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/

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