Bealtaine is Ireland’s national festival which uniquely celebrates the arts and creativity as we age. The festival is run by Age & Opportunity, the national organisation that promotes active and engaged living as we get older.  

We're delighted to team up with the Age and Opportunity Bealtaine Festival to host the Epic Awards Ceremony at Richmond Barracks in Dublin on Thursday 3 May 2018 as part of the festival!

Every year Bealtaine subverts negative perceptions of age by celebrating an alternative model of ageing through the arts; in 2018 we are particularly proud of projects that challenge taboos such as sex and sexuality in older age (Everybody Sings) and celebratory projects that celebrate the incredible importance of linking the generations (A Life Of Play)”

“Bealtaine Festival is delighted to connect with the Voluntary Arts Epic Awards this year, and to celebrate the amazing grass-roots voluntary work taking place all over Ireland - working with Voluntary Arts allows us to celebrate creativity at any age”

We’ve asked Bealtaine Festival team for some highlights of this year’s festival: 

1. Bealtaine @ Temple Bar

Bealtaine @ Temple Bar is an exciting new inclusion in the Bealtaine event calendar, offering a series of diverse arts and cultural events in Temple Bar specifically geared towards older people and their families. Over the course of five days during the May bank holiday weekend, Bealtaine @ Temple Bar, in partnership with its cultural venues and Dublin City Council, will deliver a dazzling series of family-friendly arts and cultural events and experiences including new outdoor film and photographic screenings, fashion events, dance performances, indoor and outdoor workshops, live music, pop up operas, choral singing, as well as exhibitions, tours, and tea parties.

2. ’Everybody Sings'

A performance exploring sex, sexuality and intimacy in older age, made in collaboration with groups of older people. 

Everybody Sings is a candid and poignant examination of the relationship between intimacy and ageing and was developed in collaboration with a group of older citizens whose stories and experiences are presented through music, film and live performance. It is led by artist, Shaun Dunne, in close collaboration with film designer, Luca Truffarelli. This new work seeks to explore changing attitudes towards age, sex and sexuality by fusing testimony, film and live performance. Questions on consent and capacity, bereavement and break-ups will be mindfully explored and demystified through the stylized abstraction of lived experience and inspired narrative.

3. Home - a visual arts commission 

In the first Bealtaine commission of its kind, Home is a collaborative project by poet Enda Wyley & visual artist Anita Groener working with Dún Laoghaire Active Retirement Group. Employing immersive imagery interwoven with text, this film poem interprets tales of home and belonging rooted in the conversations and generous sharing from the community collaborators. The film will be premiered as part of Strokestown Poetry Festival in May 2018 and will be toured to venues nationwide throughout the month. Home is a Bealtaine Festival commission supported by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

4. The Bealtaine Debate - Does Age Have a Bearing On Creativity?

Featuring visual artists Brian Maguire and Jochen Gerz, together with Professor of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin, Ian Robertson, this discussion will explore whether age has a bearing on creativity, at what age artists and creative people reach their full creative potential, what reaching ‘peak creativity’ might mean and the impact of ageism on perceptions around this. This discussion is run in partnership with MISA, and the National College of Art and Design. The Bealtaine Debate will be of interest to artists, creatives and students, the public, sociologists, psychologists and those working in the arts and older people.

5. Standing On The Shoulder of Giants

An exploration of the influence and impact of the older generation on the younger through a discussion with writers Claire Kilroy and John Banville (chaired by writer John Boyne) - this event will look at legacy, careers, and how literature, as will all things, does not arise out of a vacuum but is built up author by author.

This event will explore the artistic and interdependent ecosystem that characterises creativity and the rich and various sources from which artists draw their inspiration. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants is essentially a celebration of the influence of writers upon each other across generations, as well as offering personal reflections on age and ageing. This event is organised with the support of International Literature Festival Dublin.

6. Dawn Chorus 

The Dawn Chorus is a nationwide choral event in which older people come together with a choir in their locality and sing at dawn in a scenic area, ideally beside water and usually outdoors. As part of Bealtaine 2018, we are encouraging choirs and active retirement groups throughout Ireland to participate in the Dawn Chorus, by putting on their own local event on any date that works for them.

To support and celebrate the many Dawn Chorus events nationwide which take place every year, Age & Opportunity is delighted to join with the Association of Irish Choirs to commission a new work for 2018. Tom Lane, composer, is the recipient of this first Dawn Chorus commission and the premiere of his new work will take place in an outdoor Dawn

Chorus event as part of Bealtaine @ Temple Bar with The Line-Up Choir and conductor Roísín Savage. A Dusk chorus event to close the festival will also feature this new work with the Forget-Me-Nots Choir and conductor Norah Walsh. This new work will be made available for download from www.aoic.ie

7.  This Is Not My Beautiful House III 

This Is Not My Beautiful House III is looking at how arts practice engages with key issues impacting on our rights to adequate housing, public space and cultural lives as we get older. This year - in keeping with our festival theme -  we are looking at ‘hospitable’ communities, how we create welcoming, reciprocal and autonomous places with and for older people.

It could be said that the purest form of hospitality hinges on an attempt to create equal status for both the host and hosted. If we take the host to mean societies and the hosted to mean citizens we can understand the need to create hospitable spaces that adapt to our needs as we age.

Join over 120,000 people all over Ireland, taking part in events involving music, art, dance, cinema, writing, theatre, heritage and more including an Epic Celebration Day at Richmond Barracks as part of the Voluntary Arts Epic Awards! Find out how you can get involved here.