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2021 Festivals Calendar

Arts Festivals are an integral cultural offering in Co. Wicklow, and we are incredibly lucky to have a diverse and innovative range of different festivals in the county. From classical music to nature writing, storytelling to screendance, Wicklow has an abundance of high-quality festivals and events which take place in stunning locations such as Russborough House and Glencree Valley as well as in state-of-the-art theatres and historic local churches. 

After the Covid-19 restrictions of 2020 decimated Wicklow’s festival calendar, there are still huge levels of uncertainty around the possibilities for festivals in 2021. With the ongoing restrictions into 2021 meaning that many of our treasured festivals have had to either postpone again, or change their models of delivery to online or a hybrid approach there is a greater need than ever for support. 

As part of a number of supports being put in place by Wicklow County Arts Office, this new Festivals Calendar will provide updated information about some of Wicklow’s festivals which are supported through funding from the Arts Office. We will endeavour to provide updates on when these festivals are planning to be held and on what platforms (live or digital) they will be presented. 

We would encourage you all to support the many festivals that contribute so much to the cultural offering of our county. You can support each festival by purchasing tickets for online events, engaging with online content, making a donation and spreading the word to encourage as many people as possible to experience the joy and life-affirming enrichment that our Co. Wicklow festivals bring.

29th March - 3rd April 2021

Wicklow Screendance Labratory 

www.screendance.ie

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“Stephanie Dufresne, who featured at the 2021 festival”

Based in Bray, Wicklow ScreenDance Laboratory (WSL) is one of only two Irish film festivals that focus exclusively on dance, choreography and film. Experimental and experiential programming is coupled with engaging supplementary events, including a day-long symposium, and screenings showing Irish and International works and dance performance.

The 2021 Wicklow Screendance Laboratory took place between March 29th - April 3rd with an exciting online programme of workshops, discussion and performance celebrating dance and dance on screen. The festival remains an experimental space that encourages artists and audiences to engage with movement in new and unexpected ways and offers rich opportunities for training and connection.

This year’s event gave dancers a unique chance to study the repertoire of modernist icon Martha Graham with former company members Jean-Baptiste Ferreira and Rafael Molina, and welcomed back screendance experts Marisa Hayes, Franck Boulègue and Blas Payri to facilitate world-class training in the art of merging choreography and cinematography. Also, in response to this difficult time of loneliness and isolation, dancer & neuroscientist Bianca Paige Smith introduced the meditative dance practice Mantra to explore the strength in vulnerability and the search for connectedness.

WSL 2021 featured a number of discussion platforms including a full-day symposium to look at the art of screendance and the work of Martha Graham, and the ever-popular Artist’s Salon - an informal and interactive show-and-tell sharing of new work and work in progress. Screenings of local, national & international dance film and performance also took place throughout the week, culminating in a showing of the Graham masterpiece, Helios. 

To see highlights of the 2021 festival, please follow Wicklow Screendance Laboratory on social media. 

20th May - 14th June 2021

West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival

www.westwicklowfestival.com 

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“Rosanne Philippens, who will perform at the 2021 festival ©Marco Borggreve”

Founded in 2017 by Wicklow native and internationally renowned pianist Fiachra Garvey, the West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival takes place in May, with an additional concert series in November, both in the stunning locations of Russborough House and St. Mary’s Church, Blessington.

The 2021 programme features performances from Sean Shibe (guitar), Rosanne Philippens (violin), Zoltán Fejérvári (piano), Van Kuijk Quartet, Fiachra Garvey (piano), Phoebe White (violin), Peter Regan (piano), Jamal Aliyev (cello), Sam Armstrong (piano) and Rachel Kelly (mezzo-soprano). 

Taking place between 20th May and 14th June 2021, all eight performances are completely free to enjoy and will be streamed on the festival’s YouTube Channel. The diverse range of repertoire includes works from Beethoven, Brahms and Bartok to modern works from Irish composers including Siobhán Cleary, Sam Perkin and David Fennessy. 

Update from the organisers: “The 2021 edition will be as exciting, accessible and diverse as ever, with all concerts being streamed for free in HD online for our audience to enjoy in the comfort of their homes! All concerts will be streamed on our YouTube Channel, so please subscribe to be notified about new online concerts and to view previous concerts! We’re also a registered charity, so if you'd like to support our work please contact westwicklowfestival@gmail.com” 

Tickets are now available from www.westwicklowfestival.com

May - October 2021

Music in Calary

www.newcastleparish.org/music_calary.htm 

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“RTÉ ConTempo Quartet, who performed at the 2019 edition of Music in Calary”

With an emphasis on providing a performance platform for young, local musicians as well as accomplished international artists, Music in Calary is a concert series which normally takes place from March – October at Calary Church in the Parish of Newcastle & Newtownmountkennedy.

Some of the artists to perform here recently have been acclaimed Wicklow pianist Fiachra Garvey, multi-instrumentalist and composer Éna Brennan/Dowry (presented in association with Bray Jazz Festival), RTÉ Con Tempo Quartet and established classical musicians from Musici Ireland.

Update from the organisers: “Music in Calary hopes to organise a series of online concerts from May to October 2021. Although it will not be possible to have physical concerts in Calary for some time, the committee are working on other possibilities for the coming year.” 

2021 - Dates TBC

Bray Jazz Festival

www.brayjazz.com 

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“Tin Men & The Telephone (Holland), Bray Jazz Festival 2019 © Dublin Jazz Photography”

Having celebrated its 20h Anniversary in 2019, Bray Jazz Festival has a long history and strong reputation for bringing some of the best performers in modern jazz to Irish audiences. All About Jazz has referred to it as being “one of the very best small jazz festivals in Europe”

Established in the Millennium Year, Bray Jazz Festival has hosted a diverse array of internationally acclaimed artists including American pianist Andrew Hill, Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen, trumpeter Dave Douglas and multi-instrumentalist Joe Lovano, among others. 

In 2019, Bray Jazz Festival took the show “On the Road” for the Bray Jazz Fringe, which saw over 50 events taking place in Bray and other locations around Wicklow including Calary Church in Roundwood, Russborough House in Blessington, Tinahely Courthouse and the Arklow Methodist Church.

Update from the organisers: “Bray Jazz Festival will return. The May Bank Holiday weekend date in 2021 was missed because of the ongoing disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Keep an eye on the website for further updates” 

18th – 20th June 2021

Dunlavin Festival of Arts

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Dunlavin Festival of Arts

Taking place annually in June, Dunlavin Festival of Arts presents a varied programme of events for all ages in the small town of Dunlavin. The 2019 festival included events such as drumming workshops, puppet shows, choir performances, art exhibitions, theatre performances, spoken word events and much more. 

Plans for the 2021 are yet to be announced, so make sure follow Dunlavin Festival of Arts on Facebook for updates. 

10th-12th September 2021

The Shaking Bog 

www.shakingbog.ie 

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“Pascale Petit & Paul Durcan at the inaugural Shaking Bog Festival in 2019”

Local in spirit but international in aspiration, the Shaking Bog Festival is for anyone who shares an interest in nature and writing; art and the environment; community and education; connection and conversation. Founded by Catherine Nunes, the Shaking Bog held its inaugural festival in June 2019 which comprised a two-day immersive event, which was aimed at reawakening and enhancing our perspectives of the natural world.

With Glencree Valley as its beautiful home, the first Shaking Bog Festival presented a diverse programme of artists including well-known Irish musicians Liam Ó Maonlaí and The Square Pegs, authors John Lewis-Stempel and Shane Hegarty, film-maker Theo Jebb and many more. 

Update from the organisers: “The Shaking Bog festival will return to the Glencree Valley in 2021. It has been postponed until September, but we hope to announce our programme very soon.”

2021 - Dates TBC

Music Under the Mountains

www.musicunderthemountains.com

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“Andy Irvine, who performed at Music Under the Mountains in 2019. © Nick Bradshaw”

Running since 1991, Music Under the Mountains is an annual festival of traditional Irish music hosted in Hollywood, Co. Wicklow. They've featured well-known traditional artists including The Chieftans, Altan, Liam O’Flynn, The Kilfenora Ceili Band and Martin Hayes over the years. The festival usually takes place in the third weekend of September, and since 1996 the festival's aim has been to support The Laura Greaves Music School which serves the local area. 

In 2019, Music Under the Mountains featured performances from Irish singer/songwriter Eleanor McEvoy, award-winning poet Jane Clarke, and acclaimed musicians including Andy Irvine, Tom Lemmonier Cormac Breatnach and Eamon Sweeney.

Please follow Music Under the Mountains on Facebook for updates, or check out www.musicunderthemountains.com

15th - 17th October 2021

Vales Around Cloughlea Festival 

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East meets West Youth Orchestra, November 2018. © Phyllis Hamilton

Organised by the Kilbride & Lakeside Music Committee and delivered in partnership with Glen Heste Pure Mile Group, Vales Around Cloughlea Festival is a community-based music festival in West Wicklow.

The inaugural festival took place in 2018, and consisted of three concerts, a guided walk through the Vales, and an 'Old Kilbride' exhibition.  The first concert featured Baroque and Early music from Eamon Sweeney and Cormac Breatnach as well as poetry from Jane Clarke. The second concert was given by West Wicklow Voices and the third concert featured East meets West Youth Orchestra which is an amalgamation of Kilbride & Lakeside Youth Music and Headford Co. Galway, Youth Music.  
 
In 2019 a mini-festival was held, with a historic talk given by gardener June Blake, followed by old-time music played by local group Mor Ceol and music from Kilbride and Lakeside Youth.

Plans are being made for an October festival in 2021, so please follow Vales Around Cloughlea on Facebook for updates.

13th - 21st November 2021

YARN Storytelling Festival

www.mermaidartscentre.ie 

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“Storyteller Liz Weir, who gave an online workshop as part of the 2020 festival”

Presented by the Mermaid Arts Centre, YARN Storytelling Festival is a community-based festival that strives to bring storytelling as an artform, to people of all ages. In 2019, YARN Storytelling Festival celebrated its 10th Anniversary with a diverse programme of artists international guest storyteller Hjörleifur Stefánsson and Storyteller in Residence, Paul Timoney. 

In addition to the public events, storytelling sessions also take place in schools, community groups and in nursing homes and other schools engagement projects also take place alongside the main programme. 

Update from the organisers: “YARN Storytelling Festival will take place from 13 to 21 November 2021. Work is ongoing on bringing together the very best of national and international storytelling talent to keep us entertained on those dark November evenings! Keep up to date with festival developments by following Mermaid Arts Centre and Yarn Storytelling Festival on social media or by joining the Mermaid's mailing list” 

2021 - Dates TBC

Alchemy Music 

www.alchemymusic.ie

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“Guitarist Eamon Sweeney, who co-founded Alchemy Music in 2011”

Originally known as "Sacred Spaces: Sacred Sounds", this music series organised by Wicklow musicians Eamon Sweeney and Rachel Factor was established in 2011 as a way of uniting musicians across the county to perform and make music more accessible to the local community. 

The inaugural event featured three solo concerts in three different venues (Nun’s Cross Church in Ashford, Calary Church in Roundwood and St. Andrew’s Church in Bray) and in 2013, the name Alchemy Music was adopted. Since then, the organisaton has been hosting reguler concert series at different times of the year including for Culture Night. 

Alchemy Music also present the annual Féile Londubh, a poetry and music festival in Ashford, which focuses on facilitating a variety of accessible events, featuring local, national and international artists for the whole community. Participation in the arts and the development of creative, educational and community links are at the heart of Féile Londubh with a wide range of events for children and adults, many of which are free. 

Please follow Alchemy Music and Féile Londubh on social media for updates. 

If you have any questions about any of these events, please email wao@wicklowcoco.ie.