Bealtaine Festival 2017

Be part of Ireland’s largest co-operative arts festival

We are delighted to announce that event registration for Age & Opportunity’s Bealtaine Festival is now open.   Bealtaine is Ireland’s national celebration of creativity as we age and in the 22 years since its launch has grown into Ireland’s largest cooperative arts festival.

Last year 79197 people participated, with over 3,000 events taking place in towns and villages throughout the country during the month of May.  

Highlights in 2016 included the VOLTage festival in glor, Co. Clare, writer Brian Leyden’s residency with musician Seamie O Dowd, and the seminar ‘This is Not my Beautiful House’ looking at how the arts can contribute to quality of life in care homes as well as new thinking about housing for older people.

During Bealtaine we celebrate the time and work put in by artists, arts centres, libraries, theatres, galleries, arts officers, national cultural institutions, orchestras, community groups, and creative people of every age in coming together each May to honour work developed throughout the year and to underline the importance of creativity throughout our lives. It is this unique collaboration that makes the festival special year on year.  

To continue to build on the success of Bealtaine, we are calling on organisers throughout the country to register their events online at

Registering your Bealtaine event with us will ensure you become part of Bealtaine 2017, and your event will be promoted on the festival website.  

The deadline for inclusion in the listings of the Bealtaine print brochure is 24th February 2017.   It will be possible to continue to upload events for Bealtaine’s online listings right up until mid-April but we do encourage you to register your event before 31st March 2017.

All events are subject to approval by the Festival team before being published online at . Participants are encouraged to incorporate the Bealtaine theme into their project where possible. If participants cannot register online, we can send you a registration form by post. 

2017 Festival Theme & Programme

This year the Bealtaine Festival theme is Altogether Now! Through this theme we want to celebrate the contribution of older people in Ireland to the concept of ‘people power’, the collective, civic engagement (and yes protest!), as well as empathy (the sentiment that generally creates these movements).The 2017 programme of events includes a diverse range of performances, commissions, residencies, workshops and projects.  

Bealtaine 2017 Highlights:

  • New choral works composed by Sean O Doherty of Paula Meehan’s poetry 
  • A dynamic public conversation on activism and social justice with a renowned panel of activists
  • Visual arts residencies in Kilkenny and Wexford with artists Vivienne Dick, Kathy Prendergast and Kevin Gaffney, ) Pauline Cummins, Frances Mezzetti;
  • A National Tour of “Creaking”, written by Noelle Brown, co-created by Oonagh Murphy & Noelle Brown,  starring Geraldine Plunket, featuring: Vocal Improviser/Opera Singer Cliona Cassidy, with volunteer performers from around Ireland;
  • A special artist in residence in a care setting specialising in caring for older people with dementia; 
  • A major visual arts commission in the Northwest of Ireland with Sligo and Mayo County Councils; 
  • Professional development events for artists; 
  • A gathering of poets and major sporting heroes to discuss their philosophy, energy and connections between poetry and sport with Listowel writers week; 
  • A critical seminar looking at how we live in older age drawing on current trends in collaborative art/architectural and planning initiatives;
  • Two sets of dance workshops: one with choreographer and dancer Mary Nunan and one with Macushla Dance Club.

Alongside theses highlights will be a huge programme of local initiatives hosted by local authorities, arts centres, libraries, Active Retirement groups, care settings, community groups and clubs from every part of the country. 

Last year nationwide participation helped make Bealtaine one of the most important cultural events in the national arts calendar. This phenomenally high level of engagement married with the creativity and enthusiasm of all involved makes Bealtaine the vibrant and energetic celebration of creativity as we age, that it is today.