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Image / Living / Culture

Galway’s The Big Think festival is the perfect end to a socially-distanced summer


by Erin Lindsay
07th Sep 2020
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After a summer of scrapping plans and missing out, Galway’s upcoming festival looks like what we’ve all been waiting for


The summer of missing festivals finally drew to a close this weekend, as would-be EP goers sadly lamented on their missed-out 2020 experience. We’ve had to endure a summer of failed experiences, of scrapping plans and making do with socially distanced fun. It’s been a strange one, but at the very least, it’s taught us to appreciate the good times when they come along.

But even as the weather turns a little chillier, we’ve got one more opportunity to make the summer count this year. A new festival, The Big Think, is coming to Galway later this month, and it promises to make up for the lack of festival experiences we’ve had in 2020 so far.

The Big Think

From Friday 18th to Sunday 20th September, big names will gather in the Galway Summer Garden, overlooking the bay for the perfect last-chance festival. The main stage is surrounded by 30 bell tents (each with its own toilet), to house six people each. Food and drink venues will be setting up there too, with the opportunity to contactlessly order and pay for your food to be delivered directly.

So who can we see there? On Saturday, national treasure Panti Bliss will present Panti’s Afternoon Tea, reflecting with panelists Cait O’Riordan (ex-The Pogues), Mark Graham (King Kong Company), Nadine O’Regan (Sunday Business Post) and special guests on how culture and art can help us through these times and give us hope for the future.

Panti will also host Sunday Brunch the next day, giving a light-hearted review of the Sunday newspapers, with chat, comedy and music from Professor of Economics at UL, Stephen Kinsella; and comedian and best-selling author, Colm O’Regan, who will also present The Long March, an hour of hilarious stand-up in these post/mid/pre Covid times.

Also on Saturday, we’ll hear from Professor Luke O’Neill in Life Beyond COVID, a conversation about where we are at with the COVID-19 pandemic and what hope and trust we can have in science and society for a better future.

On the literary front, Mike McCormack, whose award-winning novel Solar Bones was recently adapted into a stunning new theatre show presented at Kilkenny Arts Festival, will chat to Constellations author, Sinead Gleeson about their respective life and work on Friday evening. On Saturday, Sinead will also talk to another great Galway writer, Elaine Feeney, about her acclaimed new novel As You Were.

On Sunday, you’ll have the chance to head to ‘This Is Not A Mass Gathering’ from noon, opening the day with an uplifting assembly of joy, thanksgiving and laughs hosted by poet and storyteller Marty Mulligan and musician Paddy Cullivan with very special musical guests.

Every evening of the weekend is rounded off with some great music, from artists such as The Converse Allstars, Big Jelly and John Conneely Inc., supported by summer festival favourite DJ Will Softly, with pop-up performances by The Dirty Circus and drumming workshops.

Innovation

The festival is really innovative in how it accommodates the Covid-19 restrictions. You can book your own private tent for your own family pod of no more than six people, and stay there for the entire evening.

Tickets start from €60 for Friday, €90 for Saturday and €90 for Sunday per person, and a ‘substantial meal’ from restaurant partner The Twelve is also pre-paid at the time of booking, featuring picnic boxes or brunch boxes during the afternoons and a BBQ on their custom grill in the evening.

To enjoy the festival to its fullest, you can tune into the events through a set of sterile wireless headphones provided for your personal use throughout.

Tickets can be booked online through Galway Summer Garden’s website.


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