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Visitors back to pre-Covid levels as Galway moves to different kind of drama

As the Galway International Arts Festival draws to a close this weekend, all eyes turn to Ballybrit where the seven-day Galway Racing Festival is due to get underway on Monday.

Organisers of both events are reporting bumper numbers in 2023 – the Arts Festival drawing hoards of people from all over to the annual cultural extravaganza, while advance tickets for the races are selling like hotcakes.

Chief Executive Officer of the Galway International Arts Festival, John Crumlish, told the Connacht Tribune that they had been “blown away” by the numbers at this year’s events – more than 4,500 people passed through the Festival Gallery last Saturday alone.

Over the first seven days of the two-week festival, the Festival Gallery on William Street welcomed over 22,200 people through its doors to view Scottish artist David Mach’s ‘The Oligarch’s Nightmare’ installation.

A further 9,000 people passed through the Diana Copperwhite exhibition at the former Connacht Tribune Printworks Gallery on Market Street.

“We’ve been delighted with the support we’ve had and the audiences that have come out,” he said.

With major gigs at the Big Top last weekend, including the first of two shows from Galway’s own Saw Doctors, and several theatre shows that have drawn widespread acclaim, festival organisers have been thrilled by the response, continued Mr Crumlish.

Enda Walsh’s Bedbound with Colm and Brenda Meaney; the unique mix of acrobatics and a 30-strong female choir at The Pulse; the incomparable DruidO’Casey trilogy; and Michael Keegan-Dolan’s How to be a Dancer in Seventy-Two thousand Easy Lessons had all been “really well received” during the festivals first week, he said.


French group Planète Vapeur’s ‘Dragon The Forgotten World’ performance on the city centre streets as part of Galway International Arts Festival at the weekend. Photos: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

See full coverage and more photographs in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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