Bealtaine 21st birthday

Age & Opportunity’s Bealtaine festival is having its 21st birthday this year! We invite you to join with us in celebrating and marking the festival’s coming of age.

For the past 20 years, Bealtaine has grown into Ireland’s largest co-operative arts festival with over 3,750 events taking place last year in cities, towns and villages throughout Ireland. I and my colleagues in Age & Opportunity appreciate all the time and work put in by artists, arts centres, libraries, theatres, galleries, arts officers, national cultural institutions, associations, community groups and creative people in coming together each year to celebrate creativity as we age. It is this unique collaboration across generations that makes the festival special each year.The Bealtaine festival is central to Age & Opportunity’s drive to create, encourage and promote high-quality and meaningful engagement in the arts for people as we age in Ireland. I hope that, in 2016, we can continue to build and grow the festival together.
Brian Leyden and Seamie O'Dowd will be performing as part of the Bealtaine National Writer in Residence programme of events.
WillFredd Theatre will be touring CARE, a play developed over a year spent in consultation with hospices in Ireland.
Image: Anna Spearman, 2011,Untitled (installation), found objects, window, wood, foam, fabric, tape, plaster, bandage. Anna will be the KKAT Resident Artist for Bealtaine 2016.
For 2016, our theme is Iconic Citizens, which continues Bealtaine’s three-year exploration ofNationhood and Citizenship. This theme reflects on who we are as the generations who have inhabited the first century of the Irish State. It also considers where we are, culturally, as a maturing nation and people.

Here are some tasters of what Bealtaine 2016 has to offer:

Visual artist Deirdre O'Mahony will work with a community in North Clare – using film to explore their lives and thoughts on life. The project will also investigate the values and behaviours that the community hold dear and that are particularly important in ensuring that they remain contented and connected as a community.

Writer Brian Leyden will be the Bealtaine National Writer in Residence and his memoir ‘The Home Place: A Memoir’ will be our book for the monthThe focus of the Bealtaine National Writer in Residence project will be on the new or first citizens of Ireland. The programme will include performances with musician 
Seamie O’Dowd, visits to writers’ groups and book clubs.

Visual artist Anna Spearman will embark on a residency with the Kilkenny Collective for Arts Talent (KCAT/ - an open access Arts and Lifelong Learning initiative promoted by the Camphill Communities. This joint Bealtaine / KCAT residency will comprise of the artist working alongside the 13 KCAT Studio artists.

We are planning a joint project with the IFI's Wild Strawberries film club this year. The IFI will also run a programme of screenings and collaborate with access>CINEMA on a national film tour that will take place during Bealtaine.

Bealtaine, in partnership with glór Arts Centre, Ennis and Clare County of Culture, are delighted to announce VoltAge, a festival-within-a-festival, to celebrate Bealtaine’s 21st Birthday and Clare as County of Culture. VoltAge will feature three days of exhibitions, discussions and events from Thursday 5 May to Saturday 7 May.

How can your group or organisation get involved in Bealtaine 2016?

As always, you can get involved in Bealtaine by arranging an arts event, workshop, session, class, performance or concert, to take place in May 2016, celebrating creativity as we age. If this is your first time to organise an event for Bealtaine, please contact us or go to our website for suggestions and advice. We encourage you to link in with local artists, performers, arts facilitators, arts centres and local authority arts officers or contact us to help you to make connections with artists, groups, organisations or partners.

Fill out the online Bealtaine Event Registration Form here so that the details of your event feature on the Bealtaine website. Alternatively you can download an Event Registration Form here and send it to us by post. Please note your unique id no. to register your event. Completed event registration forms should be returned to us by Friday, 25 March 2016.

Use our logo on your posters and publications so that people know you are part of Ireland's biggest collaborative arts festival. Our logo is available for download from or email us at to get a copy.

I am looking forward to working with you, supporting you and celebrating with you in 2016. You can contact me on with your questions or call us on (01) 853 5178.

Kind regards,

Tara Byrne
Arts and Culture Manager
Age & Opportunity