Baboró festival brings magical experiences to young and old in Galway

The streets of Galway came to life during this year's festival when thousands of children, families and schools were seen moving from venue to venue to enjoy shows, workshops and exhibitions as part of the 20th Baboró International Arts Festival for Children. The week-long festival came to a close on Sunday following a wonderful week of creativity and inspiration for children of all ages, not to mention for the grown-ups too!

There were many highlights including Baboró’s Creative Lab at NUI Galway, which saw children and adults engage in creative engagement workshops, led by artists Deirdre Rogers and Orla Kelly in association with ReCreate Ireland. They were assisted by Finbar 247, Jane Hayes and Frank Monahan, who worked with Deirdre and Orla as part of Baboró’s Early Years Arts Mentorship programme. A resounding success, the Creative Lab was met with widespread positive feedback from all quarters. Deirdre Flaherty, a teacher with Rosedale School, commented:
“The event we attended today was absolutely brilliant. The students all got so much out of it and it was so appropriate to their individual needs. The staff were so enthusiastic and made it so enjoyable and special for each one of the students.  We left with a box full of resources that we can use in the classroom and lots of ideas. Thank you again.’

Other programme highlights included A Feast of Bones, The Secret Life of Suitcases, Aston’s Stones, The Shape of Things by Galway’s Branar as well as the Robotic Adventures by Colmac Robotics, which took place in the uber cool surroundings of the Portershed. Baboró came to a joyous close with two performances of Alice Underground by Youth Ballet West, which featured Tiny Dancer, Lily-Mae Morrison in the role of ‘Little Alice’; a wonderful achievement for the 8-year old who celebrated three years cancer-free last week.

Engaging with the arts is good for children and Baboró very much welcomed a recent study, undertaken by the ESRI and the Arts Council, which showed that increased exposure to the arts boosts children’s confidence, their socio-emotional well-being and academic skills. Children who participate in artistic and cultural activities cope better with schoolwork and have more positive attitudes towards school later on than those who are less engaged.

Aislinn ÓhEocha Executive Artistic Director commented:
“At the heart of what Baboró does is to create seven days of culturally rich experiences for children and their families to enjoy in Galway every October so that they can experience first hand the transformative power of the creative arts. We were thrilled with the response to this year’s festival, both from schools and from the general public. It was such a joy to witness the awe and wonder on childrens’ faces throughout the week. I’d like to thank our audiences, our artists, funders, and our sponsors for their support.  And the festival wouldn’t happen without our technical crew and staff, and our incredible team of volunteers who ensured a wonderful Baboró experience for everyone.”

This year’s programme also offered a series of professional development workshops for teachers, educators and those working with children. Encouraging creativity and imagination in young people is a valued part of the festival programme.

One festival-goer captured it perfectly when she said: “The best testimony is given through the wonder displayed in children's eyes when they embark on their Baboró journey. There are no words apt enough to describe how precious that is. Thank you all at Baboró and well done to you all on your fantastic work.”

Plans are already underway for next year with organisers encouraged by the very positive feedback from this year’s festival. Following strong demand for tickets, organisers would like to remind schools and parents to avoid disappointment by booking as early as possible when next year’s festival comes around.

Baboró International Arts Festival for Children would like to acknowledge the continued support of The Arts Council and Galway City and County Councils.