President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins will inaugurate the celebrations.

We are just a stones throw away from the spectacular Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture Opening Ceremony, and it’s going to be like nothing the county has seen before.

None other than President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins will officially inaugurate the celebrations on Saturday February 8th, which will be spearheaded by Wonder Works, the organisation behind the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

In terms of what you can expect to see, think fire, processions and music, with a cast drawn from communities across the entire county of Galway coming together in a huge open air setting.

Things will begin with a turf cutting ceremony on St Brigid’s day with fiery festivals erupting in towns across the county over seven consecutive nights from Sunday February 2nd.

Before the processions starts to inch ever closer to the city as it moves through Clifden, Spiddal, Tuam, Ballinasloe, Portumna and Athenry.

Then a cast of thousands from the far reaching corners of the county will converge on Eyre Square in the heart of Galway city on February 8th for the spectacular finale.

”I have no doubt that the events of this year will inspire and enthuse”.

President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins has been an advocate of Galway 2020 from the very beginning, speaking of the opening ceremony, he said; “Galway 2020 is an Irish programme, with universal relevance and resonance.

The festival will provide uniquely Galwegian, Irish and international perspectives exploring the quintessential Irish themes of language, landscape and migration. I have no doubt that the events of this year will inspire and enthuse, and in turn, prove a catalyst for further creative work in Galway and further afield”.

CEO of Galway 2020, Patricia Philbin said; “After a great collective effort from our team, our partners and the people of Galway, our year as European Capital of Culture is about to commence. A wonderful year awaits.”

The year-long programme is based around the four fire seasons of Ireland’s ancient Celtic calendar.

February 1st was traditionally known as Imbolc, an ancient Pagan festival which represents the start of spring with its promise of new life and new beginnings.

The programme will unfold throughout the year according to the Celtic seasons of Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasa and Samhain.

Highlights of the Imbolc season (February – April 2020) include:

  • Margaret Atwood takes part in the Wild Atlantic Women series to mark International Women’s Day, discussing her remarkable career and latest book The Testaments.
  • Laurie Anderson presents two projects: The immersive To the Moon and All the Things I Lost in the Flood.
  • Hope It Rains, a series of events celebrating Galway’s infamous weather, features pop-up outdoor wet weather performances, installations with broken umbrellas, and chance to grow sprouted grains in a rain-cape
  • Druid takes Ireland’s greatest 20th century one-act plays to towns and villages across Galway county, as well as presenting Tom Murphy’s adaptation of The Cherry Orchard
  • The mountains of Connemara illuminated in the largest ever light art spectacle by Finnish light artist Kari Kola to coincide with St Patrick’s Day
  • The launch of Cellissimo, a major new international cello festival featuring world-class performers including Mischa Maisky, Giovanni Sollima, Tatjana Vassiljeva and Natalie Haas
  • Artist-in-residence Tobias Hutzler will present Light Field, a vast nocturnal installation in Connemara using tens of thousands of lights and inspired by the ancient system of agriculture
  • The history of the Irish language is explored by Irish theatre company Branar Téatar do Pháistí in their immersive production for children, Sruth na Teanga

Developed through more than 100 partnerships with 33 different countries represented, the themes of Galway 2020 are landscape, language and migration.

The programme over the course of the year will range across music, theatre, literature, visual arts, dance, film, architecture, heritage, sport, food, with the majority of projects being free to audiences. Each of the four seasons will open with a spectacular fire festival, referring to the Irish tradition of marking the new season with fire.

The full programme is available to view at