Encouraging people to come out of their shell, and strong local community involvement are the secrets of Féile na Bealtaine's success.
Féile na Bealtaine Music & Arts Festival takes place every May Bank Holiday. Dingle, Co Kerry. Exhibitions of the visual arts, concerts, poetry readings, lectures, films and street theatre all make up a packed schedule of events.
Encouraging people to come out of their shell and strong local community involvement are the secrets of Féile na Bealtaine's success.
An incredible 100-plus events take place over five special days and there was no question of the spirit of the festival being dampened by any damp weather.
Féile na Bealtaine, held annually on the Dingle Peninsula, has evolved from a tentative day-long event in the mid-nineties to a bursting-at-the-seams, multi-disciplinary arts festival with over 100 separate events over the course of five days.
The arts are to the fore with local and visiting visual artists staging exhibitions and interactive events that are a feast for the senses.
Traditional, classical, rock, indie, folk, dance and world music also collides in an audibly spectacular fashion. The dance, trapeze and up-cycling workshops events are extremely well attended year on year and the many poetry and literary readings - including the annual poetry morning in Dick Macks - which has been going strong since day one - are packed to the door.
Sunday sees Dingle swathed in a sea of colour as the annual Féile na Bealtaine Parade hits the streets. Local primary schools having literally spent months creating their fantastical attire in keeping with the parade theme - which is different every year - and the fruits of their labours are greatly appreciated by the thongs of onlookers who line the streets.
Féile na Bealtaine, founded by the late poet and GP, Dr Micheal Fanning and a dedicated local committee in 1994, certainly owes much of its infectious enthusiasm to muintir on phobail, who volunteer in great numbers to help stage a wonderful five days, a sentiment echoed by festival director, Dr Peadar Ó Fionnáin.
"The town is packed, the tickets flying, people are smiling; there is just a great atmosphere, " he said.
"The festival is really rooted in the community and it encourages people to come out of their shell and do things they wouldn't normally do; be that raving in an alleyway or performing medieval chants at 8am in the morning in Gallarus Oratory."
There's plenty for kids to enjoy to with clowns, acrobats, jugglers and puppetry and a sure highlight of the Festival will be the parade of street theatre which takes place on the Sunday.
The festival’s aims are to highlight and promote Dingle’s traditions and bilingual culture and to introduce the arts and artists from other parts of Ireland and the world to the people of Corca Dhuibhne.
The Irish year was divided into two parts: Ó Samhain go Bealtaine is ó Bealtaine go Samhain. Bealtaine – Good Fire, connected with the sun’s warmth and the consequent fertility of crops and cattle.
The festival will culminate on Bank Holiday Monday with a political symposium and of course the annual sheep-dog trials.
I hope you can join this May Bank Holiday weekend in welcoming the summer to the Dingle Peninsula and in sampling the exquisite cultural events the Dingle festival has to offer.
Address: Dingle, Co. Kerry
Tel: 087 799 4488