Bealtaine Festival

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Country and Region IrelandDublin
Type of Festival Dance, Music
Location of Festival Venues throughout Ireland
Festival Contact Information

Bealtaine Festival
Marino Institute of Education
Griffith Avenue
Dublin 9
Phone: +353 (0)01 805 7704

Festival Description

The Bealtaine Festival celebrates creativity in older age across Ireland each year from May 1st to 31st. Bealtaine — Ireland’s unique festival celebrating creativity in older age features hundreds of events taking place across the country. Ireland’s largest co-operative Arts Festival, Bealtaine is co-ordinated by Age & Opportunity and works with local, regional and national organisations. The Festival embraces all art forms and encourages participation in the Arts by older people as artists, performers, event organisers and audiences.

Festival Dates May 1 - 31, 2013
Festival Links

Festival Story:

Bealtaine, the national festival celebrating creativity in older age, is coordinated by Age & Opportunity and includes events organised by hundreds of partner organisations. The festival encourages greater participation in the arts by older people as artists and performers, participating as both event organisers and audiences, everywhere from national institutions to local parish halls. The ethos is one of fun, empowerment and exploration.

Since 1995, Bealtaine has been an agenda-setting cultural first, an Irish innovation. Bealtaine 2008 saw over 1300 events with an estimated 55,000 participants from 26 counties made with 337 partners, making this one of Ireland’s biggest arts festivals. And while there’s currently nothing like Bealtaine anywhere else in the world, other countries are following our lead and creating festivals based on our model of celebration and participation.

Age & Opportunity is the national not-for-profit organisation working to promote greater participation by older people in society through partnerships and collaborative programmes. Other Age & Opportunity programmes are delivered with a range of partner organisations in areas like physical activity, educating about ageism and age discrimination, promoting confidence and empowerment amongst older people, and training staff of care centres to facilitate the arts amongst the people in their care. Further information


Festival Events:

Programming 2013:
  • For Ireland’s inaugural Complaints Choir the people have been invited to submit their complaints to the Bealtaine Festival. Conor Linehan of the Royal Irish Academy of Music is in the process of turning these complaints into lyrics for a choral symphony. Choirs around the country will be invited to learn this new composition of complaint then gather together on May 1st to transform all that moaning into a work of art. Dominic Campbell, Artistic Director of Bealtaine, says, “Complaints Choirs are about transforming the huge energy we put into complaining into something more positive. Irish people are supposed to be world class at complaining – here’s the chance to prove it!”
  • Award-winning actor and writer Mikel Murfi is taking The Man in The Woman’s Shoes on tour across Ireland during the festival. Last year Mikel met with Active Retirement Ireland and community groups around Sligo to gather stories for this show. He saw a pattern emerge of ‘characters’ who inhabit Sligo villages - and probably every village in Ireland. The show follows Pat Farnon as he walks from his cottage to town and back again and the marvels that he meets along the way. It’s a charming encounter - an ageing man still with a boundless enthusiasm for life. Hilariously funny and tender by turns, the story Mikel wrote asks us to find the common humanity in our fellow man and woman and to show kindness at every opportunity. It also asks us to consider that romantic love is not the preserve of the young.
  • Wandering Methods, a slow craft project, will see older people explore heritage, both personal and national, through craft. Artists Maeve Clancy and Liz Nilson, together with Deirdre Figueiredo of Craftspace UK, will be working with a group of older people, each of whom will select an object of personal significance as an original source of inspiration, exploring what it means to them and why it is so important via various craft methods. They will place their object alongside the collected heritage items on display in Rathfarham Castle, creating an exhibition which will be open to the public.
  • I am here, you are there, a new exhibition of photographic work by artist Kate Byrne at Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda 11 April – 15th June, will explore ideas of ageing and beauty in contemporary western society in its large scale portraits of eight women. Byrne’s exhibition considers how older women are represented in a visual culture that is dominated by images of youth in television, film, and the media. Kate Byrne says of the work, “The subjects photographed all feel their identity marginalised and compromised by their elderly years. The large scale (of the photographs) ensures that the viewer is directed to every blemish, wrinkle, stray hair, and raised vein, yet the overriding objective is to suggest … strength, independence and endurance.”
  • Dawn Chorus is now established as a calendar event, following an extraordinary debut event on Culdaff beach in Donegal in May 2009. Last year there were around thirty Dawn Chorus events on waterfronts across Ireland.  This year, for the first time, choirs across Europe, as well as across Ireland, are being encouraged to open their doors to retirement groups, to develop a short concert together and to sing on a scenic waterfront to mark the end of the Bealtaine Festival 2013, with these uniquely beautiful events taking place Sunday 26th May.
  • These events are just some of the highlights among thousands of theatre, events, music, dance, film, visual arts and other events celebrating creativity as we age that will take place throughout the month of May.


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