Westport Arts Festival is getting a makeover, starting with its name. Meet ‘Westival’, billed as ‘a new festival with an old heart’. The decision to rebrand came after a year-and-a-half of research and rumination on how to build on 42 years of success.
Westival will continue to foster the thriving local arts and music scene of Westport, but it will also help promote the west of Ireland as a destination for significant cultural events that attract international talent and attention. The committee is nevertheless adamant that loyal fans of the Westport Arts Festival can rest assured that the charm of the events unique to the original festival will remain.
Along with the name change comes with a date change. While the Westport Arts Festival was traditionally held in September, the new Westival will take place at the end of October – October 24 to 29 – taking in the bank-holiday weekend. The idea is to attract a new wave of visitors to the town after the hectic summer season. The new date is more suitable for school and college students too.
The move from September to October, with its autumnal vibe and darker evenings, allows Westival to become a ‘cosy and intimate’ indoor festival, encompassing all the fun of Halloween, including themed events and fireside antics.
Top-class venues, such as Holy Trinity Church, with its gothic architecture, and the state-of-the-art Town Hall Theatre, will host some of the festivals’ main attractions. There will also be gigs and events taking place in Westport’s pubs as well as in pop-up venues around the town.
The first element of the Westival programme to be announced is a significant new sculptural exhibition platform for visual artists in Ireland, entitled ‘Identity’.
Reflecting Westport’s status as a leading eco-town, the theme focuses on recycled and repurposed materials and it will serve as one of the festival’s main visual-arts elements. With an expert jury selection and an open call to practitioners, those interested in taking part are encouraged to visit www.westival.ie.
Westival 2018’s full programme will be announced in early August. Expect a festival brim-full of local, national and international music, culture and artistic adventures, world premières and free family-friendly performances for all.
If you would like to get involved – as a participant, spectator, volunteer or a sponsor – the festival team would love to hear from you. Contact festival director Conor Wilson at email@example.com.
For more information on the festival, its ethos and its line-up, see www.westival.ie.