Bealtaine Festival stays at home and goes online this year

Bealtaine At Home

Bealtaine Festival, an Age & Opportunity event, is a celebration of the arts and creativity as people age. Although live and in-person events had to be cancelled this May, a taste of the festival is being brought to the public via online channels.

The festival takes a new name this year: Bealtaine At Home. It honours the creative spirit of the festival with a wide selection of online activities that everyone can get involved in and share with the older people in their lives.

“The festival has moved online this year but we have a wide variety of activities that we hope will interest older people in particular who are cocooning during this difficult time,” said Karen Horgan, CEO, Age & Opportunity.

“The incredible calendar of events for Bealtaine At Home throughout the month of May reminds us that we can be creative and enjoy the arts in our homes.”

The artistic director of the festival, Dr. Tara Byrne, added: “While we were so disappointed to have to cancel the huge plans we had for our 25th Bealtaine Festival, we have managed to respond with a diverse, engaging and highly entertaining series of events to mark this extraordinary May.”

Some festival highlights include specially commissioned Bealtaine At Home videos with Pom Boyd and The Windy Lady, who invites viewers into her home to share her surreal thoughts on self-isolation, medication, her turkey family, pigs, racing cars, buses, the moon and Vladimir Putin (or the manager in SuperValu, as she knows him).

A Dublin-born actor, performer and writer, Pom brought The Windy Lady to life based on how older people are typically portrayed. “I’ve made sure there is subversion, anarchy and feminism going on with her,” she explained. “She’s a perfect fit for Age & Opportunity as she challenges stereotypes. You’d never know it to look at her though; you have to get to know her.”

Elsewhere, you can get imaginative with artist Brian Cooney and his photography club online; discuss literature with the book club with the help of writer Mia Gallagher and hear from authors Michael Harding, Catherine Dunne and Neil Hegarty; see choirs present videos celebrating the dawn and dusk choruses; and much more.

In 2019, Age & Opportunity ran six artist residencies in care settings around Ireland. This year, the six artists were due to revisit their care setting for a Bealtaine celebration. While this is no longer possible, unfortunately, the artists involved have all responded to this by creating an opportunity for wider engagement, inspired by their residency, including photography, drawing workshops, print at home pamphlets and videos, immersive video for those living with dementia, and more.

The creative activities of the artists involved will be shared on the Bealtaine Festival website (http://bealtaine.ie) and social media channels.

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