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2021 Festival dates + highlights announced

Cairde Sligo Arts Festival will return to Sligo from July 3rd to 11th, 2021.

As we face into another year of uncertainty; we are looking forward to working with artists, audiences and communities to find new and resourceful ways to create art and to celebrate together. We are focussing on safe outdoor environments, custom made indoor happenings mixed with streaming events to wider audiences.

LUXE Landscape Theatre

We are delighted to have commissioned landscape theatre specialists LUXE to create an illuminated spectacle event inspired by Blackrock lighthouse, Oyster Island,  the ‘Waiting on the Shore’ sculpture and the surrounding coastal area of Rosses Point. The event will explore themes of coastal living; beacons of safety & hope; way making; community, people and place. 

The festival welcomes back award winning circus company Tumble Circus for The Travelling Cycle Circus which will bring circus by bicycle into Sligo communities. A 45 minute experience inspired by Flann O’Brien’s satirical and absurd writing and biking adventures has been created by Tumble Circus in direct response to the Covid 19 pandemic. A comprehensive circus training programme for young people, funded by Sligo Leader Partnership, will accompany this project both before and during the festival. 

Tumble Circus, Travelling C\cle Circus, Photo Neal Campbell

Cairde Word returns with writing from the west featuring Kevin Barry, Louise Kennedy and Una Mannion (on Tuesday July 6th); an In Conversation event with Ingrid Persaud – winner of the Costa First Novel award for her debut novel ‘Love after Love’ (on Thursday July 8th); and the award for the inaugural Cairde Word – Short Story Competition will be presented (on Saturday 10th July).

The inaugural Cairde Word – Short Story Competition is a welcome new addition to the festivals’ literary strand. Submissions will be accepted from March 1st to April 30th via the festival website and the competition will be judged by Sinead Gleeson and Louise Kennedy. The first award of €2,000.00 is being generously sponsored by Callan Tansey solicitors. 

Other programme highlights include – Human Signature, a lens based exhibition curated by Barry McHugh, which will take place in the Hyde Bridge Gallery in July; the return of the popular Vagabond Voices curated by Patrick Karl Curley  and the Cairde Young Curators project with facilitator Andy Parsons, assisted by Sinead Sexton where a panel of 15 to 19 years olds will curate a strand of the festival programme.  

With further events still to be announced there’s lots to look forward to this summer.

#CairdeConnected – a new online festival from Sligo this July

✨ We are delighted to announce #CairdeConnected – a programme of literary, music, performance and family events that will be broadcast online from Sligo this July 8 to 11. ✨

#CairdeConnected is the re-imagining of our arts festival programme 2020 so that we can continue to connect artists, audiences and communities and you can join in from the safety and comfort of your own home. We’re delighted to present new commissions and world premieres; works in progress, experimental soundscapes; literary conversations and pop up style events and a range of events for families to get tucked into.

#CairdeConnected is proud to bring you a thought provoking and stimulating literary programme under the banner of Cairde Word, supported by the Spot-lit Literary Development Programme. Ian Maleney and Sara Baume talk non-fiction facilitated by Una Mannion on Thursday July 9th at 8pm.  Alice Lyons is in conversation with Louise Kennedy on the publication of her latest work, Oona which has been described as ‘an ingeniously crafted marvel’  on Saturday July 11th.

Cairde Word also presents Vagabond Voices, curated by Patrick Karl Curley, which brings together a chorus of unique voices featuring Alix Lambert, Emma Dabiri, Franki Elliot, Karl Geary, Demi Anter, Ruth Clinton & Niamh Moriarty, Sasha Terfous, Caragh Maxwell and Olivia Furey.

Our Music programme in 2020 has a focus on sharing new work and new beginnings. A Trad Arts commission features a collaboration with Cathy Jordan (vocals, mandolin, percussion), Claudia Schwab (fiddle, vocals) and Irene Buckley  (electronics, vocals). In an intimate setting, the three musicians express their bond to traditional music, whereby ancient tradition is summoned to meet new burgeonings. This world premiere event will air on Friday, July 10th at 8pm.  Ted Kelly (of Moxie) will share his new solo project which sees his love for ‘lo-fi’ Hip Hop meld gently with his love of traditional music. This piece features visuals and will be aired on Thursday 9th at 10pm.

Photo by Brian Farrell

Multi-instrumentalist Natalia Beylis & Cellist Eimear Reidy invite us into the woods for an arboreal music & research project entitled Whose Woods these are. This is an ongoing project across numerous locations in Ireland, the first of which is happening during #CairdeConnected, whereby the artists bring us on a sonic woodland journey and ask us to imagine a public domain of trees where no one owns them and together we are their guardians.

Photo by Brian Farrell

Rounding off the week, Donal Dineen will broadcast a special Make Me An Island podcast – a podcast that has become a weekly highlight for many during the lockdown – featuring special guest Steve Wickham on Saturday July 11th.

Photo by Anna Leask

We are very excited to present a work in progress sharing of ‘The Bed’ in collaboration with the Hawk’s Well Theatre and Sligo Arts Service, funded by The Arts Council Invitation to Collaboration Scheme. A performance project which brings together Theatre Makers Sorcha Fox, Charmaine T Matonsi, Abigail (Ashley) Ramaabya, Amir Abualrob, Wasekere-Sekerani, Nokwanda Siziba, Donal O’Kelly and poet Rafeef Ziadah to explore ideas of homelessness, life, safety, exile, incarceration, the reality of life in Direct Provision and freedom. The piece features music composed and performed by Dee Armstrong and Lughaidh Armstrong Mayock. A sharing of work to date will premiere during Cairde Connected on Saturday, July 11th at 6pm.

Kids will as always get a chance to boogie to Will Softly’s World music disco – a festival favourite blending old-skool classics with long lost alternative gems from all four corners of the Globe – a live broadcast will provide motivation for all parts of the body to shake rattle and roll! A morning workshop series features bookmaking, illustration and creature creation to keep young ones busy at home now that the home-schooling is over.

Louise Waters Natural Therapies, Yoga, family Yoga, Business Photographer, photographer Ireland

Cairde Sligo Arts Festival Capsule in Autumn 2020

In addition to July’s virtual programme, CSAF are continuing to work on a number of development projects throughout 2020. Cairde Young Curators, a programme where artist Andy Parsons is working with a group of 15 to 19 – year-olds on curating an aspect of the festival programme continues online; the culmination of which will be shared this autumn. Residencies taking place in 2020 include a project inspired by the works of Dorothy Cross with Junk Ensemble in November; continued development work on theatre project Uprooted with Brokentalkers in Autumn 2020.

CSAF would like to acknowledge the support of The Arts Council of Ireland, Sligo County Council and the Spot-lit Literary Tourism Programme.

Join the conversation:  @cairdefestival  #CairdeConnected

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Vagabond Voices online trail

Now, more than ever, it’s vital for us to remain open to divergent voices and viewpoints, and to allow ourselves to be curious, inspired and moved. CSAF is delighted to work with curator Patrick Karl Curley on bringing together a chorus of unique voices from the various disciplines of art, literature, spoken word, music and performance for this Vagabond Voices series.

Featuring Alix Lambert, Emma Dabiri, Franki Elliot, Karl Geary, Demi Anter, Ruth Clinton & Niamh Moriarty, Sasha Terfous, Caragh Maxwell and Olivia Furey.

A variation of our pop-up walking tour of previous years, Vagabond Voices combines a selection of Irish and international perspectives through reading and performance over three days, Wednesday 8th , Thursday 9th , and Friday 10th of July.

Browse artists and events here >> Vagabond Voices

Patrick Karl Curley is a poet and performance artist from Sligo, Ireland. He is curator of Vagabond Voices poetry/performance event for Cairde Sligo Arts Festival, and hosts Illumnations open mic poetry at Bookmart. His work has been selected by Poetry Barn for the Poetic Licence exhibition at the Arts Society of Kingston, NY, in August 2020. He has previously published work in Dream Noir Art, Black Heart Magazine, Crack The Spine, Hidden Channel, The Cormorant, and From The Depths, and has performed his work on Sunken Transmissions for Dublin Digital Radio.

✨ Cairde Sligo Arts Festival Update ✨

Due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, we have decided we unfortunately cannot go ahead with the festival as planned this year. We’re gutted to have to put the plans aside BUT we are putting together a programme of events (mainly virtual) so that we can continue to provide a focal point for creative connectivity and cultural celebration. We will be announcing the full programme soon so stay tuned for updates.

In the meantime here are some throwback pictures of our festival 2019 by Anna Leask – Art and Photography and Gavin McGoldrick.

In addition to our virtual programme, we are continuing to work on a number of development projects throughout 2020. Cairde Young Curators, a programme where artist Andy Parsons is working with a group of 15 to 19 year-olds on curating an aspect of the festival programme continues online. 

Residencies taking place in 2020 include a project inspired by the works of Dorothy Cross with Junk Ensemblein November;  a residency with Theatre Maker Sorcha Foxin collaboration with Sligo Arts Service and the Hawk’s Well Theatre and continued development work onUprooted withBrokentalkersin Autumn 2020.

We hope you are all well 🌸

Cairde Sligo Arts Festival Seeks Young People To Get Involved

  • Initiative Inviting Young People to Connect with Sligo Arts Festival Programme
  • Join our team and develop a special element of this year’s festival programme

Ever fancied running a festival or having a behind the scenes peek? Or wanted to bring your favourite musician or artist to Sligo? Now’s your chance. 

Cairde Sligo Arts Festival (CSAF) returns from July 4th to 12th 2020. As part of this year’s programme, Festival organisers are seeking to connect with younger audiences from across County Sligo. 

Cairde Young Curators, is a major new initiative for the festival, focussing on those aged between 15 and 19 years. The Festival is currently inviting young people to join this new initiative and have their input on the Festival programme this summer. 

The project will see a team of young curators work with the Festival team to program a special element of this year’s festival. The project will commence in mid February and run right up until the arts festival itself in July, where the young curators will meet, brainstorm ideas, research, explore, plan, document, get inspired and select their potential event. This event may come in the form of a live music gig, an interactive workshop, a visual art exhibition or none of the above – most importantly the ideas will come from the team – Giving a younger audience an opportunity to have their say in what is on offer during the arts festival. 

If you would like to join this group, Cairde Sligo Arts Festival invites you to send in a short statement saying why you would like to be involved by Monday the 3rd of February to: 

For more information check out our website: or follow @cairdefestival 

Cairde Young curators is supported by The Arts Council of Ireland.

Premiere performance of ground-breaking new project Meascan – Music Across Cultures

Irene Buckley, Raphael Decoster, Bodek Janke, Cathy Jordan, Soof Nikritin, Claudia Schwab

Meascan – Music Across Cultures, a new cross-cultural collaborative work commissioned by Cairde Sligo Arts Festival and funded by The Arts Council premieres at The Factory Performance Space at 8pm this Saturday 6th July.

Six exceptional musicians come together to create a rich, cross-cultural musical experience that explores the merging of a diverse array of musical styles and cultural backgrounds.

The musicians are Irene Buckley (electronics, vocal), Raphael Decoster (accordion and visuals), Bodek Janke (percussion), Cathy Jordan (vocals and percussion), Soof Nikritin (bass), and Claudia Schwab (fiddle, vocals).

A collaboration of folk and contemporary music from Ireland, Austria, Poland, Morocco and France. Meascan celebrates the creation of a new and exciting musical voice.

Listen back to Austrian fiddle player Claudia Schwab and Cathy Jordan (of Dervish) on RTÉ Arena with Seán Rocks 👉

Don’t miss the opening night concert at Cairde Sligo Arts Festival – Book Tix

Park Fest 2019 Line-up and stage times announced

Photo: Peter Martin

Cairde Sligo Arts Festival’s BIG Family Day Out, Sunday 6th July

Family Yoga with Louise Waters (30 min) – 12pm & 12.45pm

Workhouse Studios Dress Up – 12 to 6pm

Art Tent, Rebecca Massey, Sally Donnelly & Kid’s Own – 1pm to 5pm

Fanzini Productions Ballet Poulet – 3.30pm

Aware Aware Aware – 20mins of guided meditation with John G for anyone and everyone – 2pm / 3pm / 4pm

All Day :: Art Installation by Resource Craft Arts Group (Group of artists working at the Northside Resource Centre)

Band Stand

1pm                 The Razor Sharps

1.30pm            Siofra Jordan

2 pm                Grooveline

2.30pm            The Indian Association of Sligo(dance)                                            

2.40 – 3.20      World Disco for Kids with DJ Will Softly

3.20 – 4.00      Break on bandstand for Fanzini Productions

4.15pm            High Hopes Choir

4.35pm            Meascan

5pm                 The Ox Mountain Sessions

5.30pm            Hifi (Tabby Callaghan) -with guest Mabel Chah

Find out more about Park Fest and other Family Events or download our Festival Brochure

Festival Fun for Families at Cairde Sligo Arts Festival 2019

Sligo is set to be hit by a massive culture wave! Streets and venues will be awash with a range of events for all ages this July.

Festival go-ers enjoying the sunshine at Parkfest, Photo: Peter Martin

Our family programme kicks off with Park Fest on Sunday 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. (View stage-times here)

Coming to Strandhill, Cleite, a piece of mask theatre by Bru Theatre features live Sean Nós songs and is based on superstitions of the old fishing communities of the West of Ireland. Suitable for ages 8 and above, this piece was devised in Katie’s Cottage, Claddagh, 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.

Sinead Sexton, Vanya Lambrecht Ward, Joshua Gordon, Nicola Redican and Aoife Maher. Image credit: Carl Brennan

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 for all ages to enjoy at The Nest from Tuesday 9th to Thursday 11th July.

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

And last but not least 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. You won’t want to miss this!

Browse our full family line-up here or browse through our festival brochure below 👇

2019 Programme Announcement

Inspired by the creative energy of the Northwest, Cairde Sligo Arts Festival is an eight day cultural adventure, featuring a diverse programme of events to ignite the imagination.

At the heart of the programme lies a varied music strand featuring unique collaborations in special locations. Highlights include Meascan:  Music Across Cultures a new cross-cultural collaborative work featuring Claudia Schwab (fiddle, drone vocals), Cathy Jordan (vocals and percussion), Irene Buckley (electronics, vocal), Raphael Decoster (accordion and visuals), Bodek Janke (percussion) and Soof Nikritin (bass).

Two of Ireland’s most distinctive folk voices Lisa O’Neill and Seamus Fogarty will join forces for a double bill promising an evening of rich and compelling original music, as well as a rare chance to see Nina Hynes in the intimate surrounds of Calry Church.

Linking the rhythm of music and water, the beautiful sounds of Tomorrows and Inni-K will both feature as part of the Songs by the Sea programme, a series of intimate concerts in seaside cafés in Sligo; whilst two hugely original acts Farah Elle & KaleidSlam will host a very special night aboard the Rose of Inisfree boat on Sligo’s Lough Gill.

Keeping the sounds going well into the night, there will also be DJ sets with Donal Dineen, Kelly-Anne Byrne and Fish Go Deep amongst others.

New to the Festival, this year sees a powerful literary strand, featuring the first ever Irish event with genre-busting Maggie Nelson, as well as talks and workshops with acclaimed essayist Sinéad Gleeson. Vagabond Verses presents an afternoon of pop-up poetry and performance in venues throughout Sligo town featuring writers and performers including Tess GallagherAlice LyonsAlice Kinsella and more

Throughout the festival, audiences are encouraged to explore Cairde Visual, Cairde Sligo Arts Festival’s sixth annual open submission exhibition in partnership with The Model. This dynamic show features work from both Irish and international artists across a broad range of media.  The winner of the Hamilton Gallery Award at Cairde Visual 2018, Tina Brooks, will also show her solo exhibition, Tidal, throughout the Festival.

The highlight of the theatre programme will be the premiere of Uprooted by Brokentalkers. Developed and performed by a culturally diverse group of community performers living in Sligo, and based on their personal experiences, the darkly comic Uprooted explores the experience of new communities via a competition to decide who is acceptable.

Bru Theatre will present Cleite, a piece of mask theatre inspired by the Claddagh in the West of Ireland, and there will be comedy with John Colleary (The Savage EyeIrish Pictorial Weekly) and Julie Jay (who most recently supported Tommy Tiernan).

Featuring events for young inquisitive minds, the programme includes street circus from the Fanzini Brothers;  children’s theatre shows including Lithuanian Dansema Dance Theatre’s Twinkles – a magical dance show for the very young; the Young Curators Programme season of workshops and events, and the ever popular Park Fest: Cairde Sligo Arts Festival’s BIG Family day out featuring music, theatre, circus; art & craft workshops & delicious food.

Tickets available online or on 071 9161518

View full event listings here or browse the festival event guide below 👇

For more information on Cairde SAF see @CairdeFestival on Twitter and Instagram, or follow @CairdeSligoArtsFestival on Facebook

Follow #SligoArtsFestival on social for more.

Cairde Sligo Arts Festival would like to thank its funders, sponsors and supporters including The Arts Council, Sligo County Council, Sligo BID, Sligo Leader and more.

Bag a Bargain for your Annual Arts Festival

Tuesday, May 14 – The Glasshouse Hotel, 8PM (with viewing from 7.30PM)

Each year Cairde Sligo Arts Festival holds The Big Auction – a fundraising auction, which raises essential funds towards making the festival happen. This always proves to be a great night out with amazing donations, unbelievable bargains and a lot of fun along the way with our auctioneer Niall Canning.

Some of the items for this year’s auction include:

  • A one week stay in an Airbnb in Alicante.
  • A range of incredible artworks by Kate MacDonagh, Michael Wann, Cormac O’Leary, Heidi Wickham, Donal Adams, Emma Stroude, Barra Cassidy, Leonora Neary, and Marilin North.
  • Jewellery and accessories from Cat & The Moon, and Cait & I.
  • Vouchers for Cafés & restaurants.
  • A stay at The Old Rectory Country House.
  • Driving, sailing, screen printing, and beginners Bodhran lessons.
  • A wonderful range of holistic treatments.
  • A myriad of indoor and outdoor activities.
  • Festival and concert tickets.

And much more!

View list of confirmed auction items here with many more items being added daily. Final Catalogue will be posted on Tuesday 🙂

Cairde Sligo Arts Festival is set to return from July 6th to 13th 2019. The week-long event returns to host a stellar lineup of Irish and international musicians, artists and performers in a range of unique and surprising venues and locations across County Sligo.

Speaking ahead of the auction Festival Director Tara McGowan says “We are always blown away by the level of support shown to the festival by local business and individuals. The festival is still run on a voluntary basis; we receive funding from The Arts Council and Sligo County Council but without the fundraising efforts of our committee and the incredible support from local people, the festival could not go ahead.

The Big Auction is always a fun night out and people go home happy, having ‘bagged a bargain’ for themselves whilst supporting the local arts festival –  it’s Win-Win! Niall Canning is our auctioneer and he will bring a great deal of humour to proceedings.”

Cairde Sligo Arts Festival wishes to take this opportunity to thank all of those who donated so generously to this year’s auction.

For more info or to donate please contact Tara McGowan on 0872214079 or