September 27th to October 6th
Now in its 38th year the Westport Arts Festival has gone from strength to strength. It is an entirely voluntary organisation, from a dedicated production team to the volunteers checking tickets on the door, it is the volunteer’s dedication to the festival ensures that delivers a genuine welcome to audiences both from home and abroad.
The devoted committee of the Westport Arts Festival work all year round striving to source top quality performers and events to bring to Westport and this year promises to be one of the best yet with an exciting, quirky and diverse line-up of the finest acts and events. Every aspect of artistic endeavor is represented during the 10 day festival, music, literature, dance, visual arts, theatre, film, comedy, children’s, free and family events…it’s all here in Westport!
The music line-up this year includes singer-songwriter Gemma Hayes, who has won hearts and minds with her eclectic blend of folk, prog rock and electronica. Hayes will play an intimate seated gig, with support from Hidden Highways and Ian O’Doherty.
Colm Mac Con Iomaire, a musician as famous for his associations with The Frames and Kíla as he is as a musician in his own right, is also playing this year. Chiefly known as a violin player, Mac Con Iomaire also turns his deft hand to banjo, cello, guitar, bouzouki and keyboards.
Other musical treats include New York based folk-rock singer/songwriter Michael Brunnock; Rarely Seen Above Ground (AKA Kilkenny multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Hickey) and funky pop purveyors Lamont/Bailey/Wall; a reggae night with three live bands – Harry J and the Conspiracy, Serious Mischief and The Bionic Rats – and a DJ set from local resident Dj Uri Kohen; jazz/pop/funk and R&B Jazz fusion band The Paul Dunlea Group
The comedy line-up brings the king of comic timing and delivery, Tyrone stand-up Kevin McAleer to Westport as well as a fantastic night of comedy featuring some of Ireland’s most promising comedians under the same roof; an evening with Robbie Bonham and Fred Cooke hosted by Ryan Cullen.
Visual art makes up a sizeable chunk of this year’s festival. Topping the bill are two exhibitions – ‘Island’, by Pat Harris, and ‘An Rinn Rua’, by Linda Ruttelynck, at The Custom House Gallery at The Quay. A member of Aosdána, Harris lives in Belgium and teaches painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. His show includes landscapes in which small coastal islands and rocks off the north coast of Mayo ‘hesitantly emerge from uniform mists comprised of sea and sky only to be captured and pinned down to the surface in paint’.
Also based in Antwerp, Linda Ruttelynck has visited and worked in the landscape of north Mayo for many years. In 2004, she was awarded a fellowship at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation at Ballycastle, giving her the time and space to deepen her contact with the area. The exhibition shows a selection of photographic works based on ‘An Rinn Rua’, a beach in the Barony of Erris.
There are some great free and family events this year at the Westport Arts Festival; Jack Wise street magician, ventriloquist, comedian and sword swallower will perform three free shows on Saturday September 28th. Other free events are Monsieur Gusto “Escapologist”, Vaudeville Fire Stilt walker Ariel Killick, Embrace the Fire fire show, a reading of “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Guido De Clown and many, many more. Among our children’s and family events are; Spraoi – a bilingual show about how to communicate with each other, Tic Teac, Tic Teac is another bilingual show for children ages 3 -5 celebrating the child’s journey of growth, exploration, learning and development. We also have The Brothers Dimm puppet show give their versions of the brothers Grimm fairy tales. And for the older children (10+) there is The Children of the Black Skirt – Think Roald Dahl meets Charles Dickens under the harsh Australian sun!
There will also be an Ariel Circus this year performed by PaperDolls called “Eccentric Ladies”, who are currently wowing audiences at this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival with their new show “Bunk”. Set in amongst the trees of The Westport Woods Hotel, a long banquet table underneath the forest canopy will make for a perfect aerial view-point, and a refreshing forest detour.
Spend time with the interesting characters of the woods, as the Ladies and friends delight, charm, tickle you pink, with their host of fancies, bloomers and frills, aerial circus treats and acrobatic feats! A live carnival band will tell the tales of the good life of such lively folk.
Among the theatre billings is ‘The Sand Park’, written and performed by Seamus O’Rourke. The play centres on Offaly man James Anthony Lowery, a farmer and GAA fan, as he contemplates life and death at the graveside of his wife and son. Dance lovers will undoubtedly flock to Irish Modern Dance Theatre’s premiere of ‘Magnetic’, described as ‘An explosive new work based on energy and ecstasy in three sections’, at Hotel Westport.
Fans of the written word will be excited by the festival’s literary line-up, which includes readings by Dermot Healy, Terry McDonnagh, John F Deane, Manchán Magan and short-story writers Mike McCormack and Hugo Kelly, as well as a poetry competition and a poetry slam.
The Westport Arts Film Event 2013 focuses on independent film shorts. A one-day event, it will include the screening of 18 shorts and a live discussion with directors Nicky Dowd, Chris Thomas, Richard Standen and Tom Stanley.
This year’s Westport Arts Festival runs from September 27th to October 6th in the county Mayo town. There are over 100 events to choose from, with Season Tickets at a reasonable €100. Many events are free with all tickets €15 or less. You can see the entire programme and purchase event tickets on our website www.westportartsfestival.com and to find where to stay or what to do while in Westport check www.destinationwestport.com.