Cairde Sligo Arts Festival - a shared celebration of imagination.

Via RTE Culture Tara McGowan, founder of the Cairde Sligo Arts Festival, writes for RTE Culture about this year's event, which runs from July 7th to 14th.

Cairde Sligo Arts Festival has taken on a new identity this year with a fresh and contemporary new look. Our new visual identity heralds a new era for the arts festival, which has been growing and developing slowly but steadily over the past ten years; establishing a reputation for a week of diverse and excellent arts activity.

The festival in its earliest stages began when I worked with Blue Raincoat Theatre Company as a showcase for the arts participation programme we ran. In 2008, I took the step to set up Cairde SAF as an independent multidisciplinary arts festival as this was something, which Sligo did not have anymore, and I felt we needed - an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate a feast of cultural activity. . Inspired by the creative energy of Ireland’s northwest and set amongst the stunning backdrop of the Wild Atlantic Way, it’s important that the festival remains rooted in its community, whilst reaching out to collaborate and work with national and international artists. This grounding in the Sligo community has been a key part of our success. There is a loyal and ambitious voluntary team who have been on board since Day One and Cairde SAF has built up a solid following within the Sligo community to become a highlight in the region’s cultural calendar.

As the festival grows each year, adding new strands of work, new venues, collaborating with a great number of arts organisations and artists; we have built support from the artistic community, from the business community and from our ever-growing audience.

We have been careful with the development and growth of the festival to bring it to where it is today – an exciting coming together of artists and audiences for a shared celebration of imagination.

In programming Cairde Sligo Arts Festival, I am interested in diversity, in collaboration, in accessibility, in connecting and in creating memorable and magic moments - moments that are transformative. I believe in the incredible transformative power of the arts. At Cairde SAF, we want to reach out to new audiences and communities; to truly engage with artists and audiences, to bring local, national and international artists together for unforgettable experiences.

This year’s programme features Foyle Punt – a new performance work by The Local Group – which incorporates storytelling, music and food and is set in seaside locations. I’m excited by the potential of this show to reach out to people who might not necessarily pick up a festival programme but who are interested in harbour life, in boat building and in craft.

We celebrate 250 years of circus in 2018 by bringing a circus Big Top into the middle of Sligo Town Centre. The Big Top will feature family trad concert with Moxie, circus performances by Tumble Circus and Lulu’s World, stand up comedy with Karl Spain, Danny O’Brien and Eve Darcy and an unforgettable night of fun with Lords of Strut. The Big Top will create a fabulous visual located in the centre of town - creating something unique and transforming the everyday.

With music, circus, performance art, visual exhibition, theatre, spoken word and more – there is something for everyone to enjoy at Cairde Sligo Arts Festival. I’m looking forward to this year’s festival as well as to the next ten years of the festival which, continues to grow thanks to the incredible support we receive locally and from our principal funder, The Arts Council.

Hot on the heels of this year’s festival, we start work with Brokentalkers on a theatre project involving asylum seekers and refugees in Sligo. I am seriously excited about working with Feidlim and Gary of Brokentalkers whose work I admire greatly and equally about continuing our relationship with those living in direct provision in Sligo.

Back to this year, we kick off our opening party with Disco É Cultura on Saturday 7th July at the Swagman, which is followed by the day-long outdoor celebration of Park Fest on Sunday, July 8th. Set in the stunning location of Sligo’s Peace Park with performances by Sligo Gospel Choir, The Indian Association of Sligo, Well Dressed Hobos, magician Joel M, Street performers Cillian Rogers and Nakupelle, local food providers including Sligo Global Kitchen - this is a wonderful free day out for all the family and kick starts a week of festival fun.

This is your invitation to imagination – come join us!

Find out more about this year's Cairde Sligo Arts Festival here.

For all your entertainment and cultural news visit RTE Culture

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