Cairde Arts Festival

Sligo is set to be hit by a massive culture wave!  Over 50 events spanning music, theatre, visual art, literary, street theatre & family events will take place over eight days at this year’s Cairde Sligo Arts Festival (from July 6th – 13th) – making a July visit to Sligo irresistible. 

In addition to newly commissioned music and theatre pieces, this year’s programme includes the further development of a literary programme with a premiere Irish appearance of Maggie Nelson; a series of events selected by our young curator’s panel and  over 20 free events, ranging from family friendly events, visual art exhibitions, a poetry trail, street circus, and a myriad of music events. 

Cairde Visual continues to grow from strength to strength attracting submissions from artists across Ireland as well as internationally. This year’s exhibition, which will open at The Model on July 6th, will feature 150 artworks across a great variety of disciplines.

The family programme kicks off with Park Fest on July 7th. This year’s free family extravaganza line-up includes music from Grooveline, The Razor Sharps, The Ox Mountain Sessions, Meascan, Tabby Callaghan, Mabel Chah, the High Hopes Choir, and Will Softly’s famous world (or world famous!) disco for children. 

Street Fest, a free carnival of curiosities, street performance, and family fun and frolics also returns for 2019 with SPIT, an award winning, relentlessly ferocious, one-woman circus street show; Siolta Circus, the Wandering Bandstand and Branching out on Saturday July 13th.

Other family events throughout the week include street theatre with contemporary circus company Fanzini Productions, storytelling and puppet performances in both English and Irish, and an interactive dance performance for 0 – to 2 year olds with award winning Lithuanian theatre company Dansema.

Cleite, a piece of mask theatre by Bru Theatre featuring live Sean Nós songs and based on superstitions of the old fishing communities of the West of Ireland will take place in Strandhill. Suitable for ages 8 and above, this piece was devised in Katie’s Cottage, Claddagh, a restored cottage and museum and has been fittingly transferred to Dolly’s Cottage in Strandhill for performances at Cairde Sligo Arts festival on Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th July. 

The first ever Cairde Young Curators programme, a major new initiative for those aged between 14 and 21 years, is underway. A panel made up of three young curators, Joshua, Nicola and Aoife, assisted by artist Vanya Lambrecht Ward and co-assisted by artist Sinead Sexton have carefully selected a number of workshops, music and film events at The Nest. 

Moving to music – don’t miss the premiere performance of Meascan – Music Across Cultures, a new cross-cultural collaborative work commissioned especially for the festival. This ground-breaking new project featuring Bodek Janke, Cathy Jordan, Claudia Schwab, Irene Buckley, Raphael Decoster, and Sook Nikritin, will take place on the festivals opening night at The Factory performance space. Six exceptional musicians come together to create a rich, cross-cultural musical experience that explores the merging of folk and contemporary music from Ireland, Austria, Poland, Morocco and France. 

Classical music fans can enjoy Australian Cellist, Jehanne Bastoni, and Irish classical guitarist Manus Noble in an intimate performance as Duo Antipodes in Hyde Bridge Gallery on Tuesday July 9th; and celebrated Australian classical guitarist Craig Ogden performing in the beautiful surrounds of the Factory Performance Space on Thursday July 11th.

Other music highlights include Donal Dineen’s Out-Backstory at The Swagman on Saturday July 6th, performances by Farah Elle and KaleidSlam aboard the Rose of Inisfree as it cruises Lough Gill on July 8th, Nina Hynes in Calry Church on July 12, Lisa O’Neill and Seamus Fogarty at The Hawks Well on July 13th, and Festival Club nights with Fish Go Deep and Kelly-Anne Byrne in Andersons on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th July.

Pubs and cafes will also fill with live music throughout the week with Tomorrows, Claudia Schwab & Soof Nikritin, Creivce, The Kobe Trio, Inni-K, Myles Manley, Donal Gunne Band, and Morgan O’Kane;  while The Bookmart will spawn strange juxtapositions and garbled parallels with a performance by Natalia Beylis and Paddy Shine. 

Theatre highlights include Edinburgh Fringe First winner, The Duke, a one man show by Shôn Dale-Jones of award-winning UK theatre company Hoipolloi. Blending fantasy and reality, this playful show has to date raised £50,000 for child refugees. Lunchtime performances take place at The Factory on Thursday 11th and Friday 12th July.

A culturally diverse group of community performers will be taking to the boards for Brokentalkers, Uprooted – a new theatre work produced by Cairde Sligo Arts Festival in collaboration with Hawk’s Well Theatre – set to premiere on July 11th, 12th & 13th.

Late night comedy with John Colleary (The Savage Eye, Irish Pictorial Weekly), Julie Jay (who most recently supported Tommy Tiernan), Martin Angolo (BBC Radio) and MC Terry Markey will take place in Andersons and is sure to bring the house down on Thursday, 11 July.

Sinead Gleeson will read from her critically acclaimed collection of essays, Constellations’ Reflections from Life, at Sligo Library on July 10th and Vagabond Verses, a poetry trail with pop-up performances by Alice Lyons, Owen Kilfeather, Tess Gallagher, Jessica Bruen, Alice Kinsella and Brian O Suilleabhan will take place in venues across Sligo town on July 11th.

A series of workshops for artists, writers and aspiring musicians will take place over the course of the week including a workshop in producing and conducting experimental music with Owen Kilfeather, and Instrument building workshops with Ed Devane.

A number of events have already sold out so early booking is advised where possible. All details on

Sligo Hub