2021 festivals not to miss

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Rediscover the joy of immersive events with these brilliant festivals taking place in the coming weeks

We thoroughly enjoyed the innovative digital offerings Irish festivals created in response to the pandemic — but that doesn’t mean we’re not excited to see and feel these events in person again. Across the country creatives are gearing up for a hectic few months, with lots of festivals slotted into the culture calendar. Here are a few not to miss:

Sculpture in Context, National Botanic Gardens

The works of over 140 artists using a range of mixed media will be on display in the National Botanic Gardens from 2 September until 15 October. This is the longest running and largest sculpture exhibition in the country, marking 35 years of Sculpture in Context. The spectacular works include pieces by Catherine Byrne, Sara Cunningham-Bell, Remco de Fouw, Maree Hensey, Ayelet Lalor, Cecilia Moore and Helen O’Connell. Admission is free.


Clifden Arts Festival

Now in its 44th year, the longest running community arts festival in the country returns to inspire creative spirits this September 15-23. Last year’s successful new digital platform returns, as will broadcast partners Connemara Community Radio, opening up the entire festival up to a wider audience. Performances include folk giant Luka Bloom, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, and a new collaboration featuring The Gloaming and Afro Celt Soundsystem star Iarla Ó Lionáird, renowned harpist Una Monaghan and cellist Kevin Murphy. Gabriel Byrne will reflect on the highs and lows of life in Hollywood, and Manchan Mangan, Luke O’Neill and Doireann Ní Ghríofa will read from their hugely successful books. clifdenartsfestival.ie


GAZE International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, Dublin

This exciting film festival has announced a return to in-cinema screenings this autumn for the 29th edition of the festival, running from 29 September to 3 October. The programme includes 11 Irish premieres for feature films and 35 Irish premieres for short films.  It opens with thriller The Novice, a cinematic treat and closes with Vivian Kleiman’s colourful, creative and inspiring documentary about the LGBTQ+ comic scene of the 1980s: No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics, the festival will be packed with screenings, including Q+As with the filmmakers of highly-anticipated punk documentary celebration of the London lesbian scene, Rebel Dykes.

Following the main festival, in November 2021 GAZE presents its first mini-festival, GAZE West, taking place at the Pálás cinema in Galway. Featuring films from the 2020 and 2021 festivals, a small but perfectly formed treat for audiences in the west of Ireland, bringing you a flash of colour as the days get shorter. gaze.ie