President Michael D Higgins will be the one to officially inaugurate Galway 2020 and open the Capital of Culture year next month.
The opening celebrations for Galway 2020 will take place on Saturday, February in the city, the same day as the general election is taking place.
The celebrations, organised by Wonder Works, will feature fire, processions and music, with a cast drawn from communities across the entire county of Galway.
The open air celebration will take place at South Park, and concerns have been raised that the massive crowds expected could cause damage to the pitch which is needed by local clubs.
In the week leading up to the opening ceremony events will take place in towns across the county, starting with a symbolic turf cutting ceremony on St Brigid’s day and then spiralling in towards the city.
President Higgins has said that Galway 2020 and its programme will have “universal relevance and resonance”, with a strong mix of uniquely Galwegian, Irish, and international perspectives.
“I have no doubt that the events of this year will inspire and enthuse, and in turn, prove a catalyst for further creative work in Galway and further afield”.
Developed through more than 100 partnerships with 33 different countries represented, the themes of Galway 2020 are landscape, language and migration.
The programme over the course of the year will range across music, theatre, literature, visual arts, dance, film, architecture, heritage, sport, food, with the majority of projects being free to audiences.
“After a great collective effort from our team, our partners and the people of Galway, our year as European Capital of Culture is about to commence. A wonderful year awaits,” added Galway 2020 CEO Patricia Philbin.
The year-long programme is based around the four fire seasons of Ireland’s ancient Celtic calendar. Each of the four seasons will open with a spectacular fire festival, referring to the Irish tradition of marking the new season with fire.
February 1 was traditionally known as Imbolc, an ancient Pagan festival which represents the start of spring with its promise of new life and new beginnings.
The programme will unfold throughout the year according to the Celtic seasons of Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasa and Samhain.