Festivals & Events

Laois Arts Office organise  a number of Events and Festivals during the year including

Bealtaine Festival

Each year Laois County Council celebrates creativity in older age by organising events for the May-time Bealtaine Festival in association with Age & Opportunity.


County Laois once again celebrates creativity in older age with a full programme of events in Laois taking place including performances by music duet  “Tandem” from the Showband Show era in Abbeyleix and Mountmellick hospitals for a trip down memory lane in music, song and story.  The launch of an exhibition titled “Doorways of Stradbally” by artists from the Stradbally Active Retirement Group.  The exhibition will include twelve original paintings, each depicting a different historic doorway in the town.  The exhibition will be launched by Anna May McHugh, Chief Executive of the National Ploughing Championships on 6th May  at 1.30pm.  Events also include free art workshops with Laois Arthouse resident, Saidhbhín Gibson.

The Arts Office have arranged an open mic competition event at 3pm with music and the spoken word categories, for people aged 60 plus, on 31 May  in the Dunamaise Arts Centre. Competitors are urged to sign in from 2.30pm for the competition.  Adjudication will be by eminent local judges.  A lovely array of prizes have been sponsored by local shops and restaurants.

A  concert by Con Spirito a Portlaoise based ensemble that includes Siobhan Corri, Violin, Eileen Hearn, Violin, Mary White, Clarinet and Ann Pike, Flute and performances by “Lonrach” a contemporary Trad Group under the directorship of Siobhan Buckley,  will take place in a number of Care Settings during the month of May.  A full list of Library events and events in the Dunamaise Arts Centre will take place also.

You can find out all you need to know about Bealtaine 2017 from the festival website www.bealtaine.com or locally on www.laois.ie.  For more info please contact the Arts Office on 057 8664033/13 or email artsoff@laoiscoco.ie.
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Culture Night in Laois 2017


Expressions of interest are invited from arts and culture groups and individuals interested in organising events to be included in the funding application process for culture night in September 2017.  Culture Night 2017 will take place on Friday 22nd September, offering free arts and culture events to all.  Closing date is April 14th  for receipt of completed forms.

Forms available from: 057 8664033 or E: artsoff@laoiscoco.ie

Culture Night 2016  was a great success with a variety of events happening in the county on Friday 16th September.The highlight of the night was a Concert and Craft Fair at the Malthouse, Stradbally. Music Generation Laois, in conjunction with the Laois Arts Office, joined counties and cities across Ireland in celebrating Culture Night 2016. New Road, a traditional Irish band with Americana influences based in Sligo, with special guests Cathy Jordan (Dervish) and Leonard Podolak (The Duhks), performed in the beautiful surroundings of The Malthouse in Stradbally.

Leading up to the concert a craft fair was held in the courtyard area of the venue with an array of beautiful ceramics, pottery, art, woodwork and jewellery on display and on sale to the public.

Speaking after the concert, Rosa Flannery, Coordinator of Music Generation Laois, said that The Malthouse, which is privately owned ‘is a stunning location for a concert, brimming with individuality and quirkiness, which combined with the wonderful musicians performing on the night, made for a brilliant evening’s entertainment.’ A group of young musicians, who are part of over 3000 young people in the County who participate in weekly Music Generation Laois programmes, took part in a workshop earlier in the evening with New Road and Cathy Jordan. These young musicians then joined the band for an encore on stage in The Malthouse that night, much to the delight of the audience.

Music Generation Laois also held bi-lingual bodhrán workshops with Dale McKay, in Portlaoise Youth Education Centre in Railway Street.

Another highlight event was a Showcase Dance Performance called RE-Connecting by Laois Youth Dance Ensemble at the Plaza, County buildings, Portlaoise. In the open air and under the direction of dance teacher Erica Borges the talented group of young dancers presented very moving contemporary dance performances highlighting the best of their repertoire with some solo performances by two visiting male dancers from Dublin.

Artist Jock Nichol conducted a wonderful “An Plein Air” workshop for landscape artists in the wonderful surroundings of Emo Court Domain and the OPW kindly opened late to give a series of free tours of the house.

The Dunamaise Arts Centre had a great turn out for Culture Night, that gave a taste of the magic that happens there throughout the year. Activities included an exhibition of James Fintan Lalor memorabilia by Brendon Deacy, an art workshop and cafe exhibition opening by students of Caroline Keane, short film screenings in the cinema thanks to the Irish Film Board, visits to the studios of Dunamaise resident artists Rebecca Deegan and Chloe Young and the official opening of an exhibition by students of Midlands Prison Education Centre.

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The James Fintan Lalor School
The fourth annual James Fintan Lalor Autumn School entitled “1916, Looking Back, Looking Forward”, took place on Friday 30th September and Saturday 1st October in the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise. It was a weekend of drama, music, debates and political discussion inspired by the writings of James Fintan Lalor. As the programme of commemoration for the 1916 Centenary draws to a close, this year’s school reflected on the year’s activities. An exhibition curated by Brendon Deacy entitled “Unfettered Man of Letters” of memorabilia linking James Fintan Lalor and 1916, was on display in the foyer of the Dunamaise Arts Centre, from 16thSeptember and throughout the weekend of the James Fintan Lalor Autumn School.
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Sean Rocks( R.T.E.) M.C. with Crime Writers-Niamh O’Connor, Thomas Enger, Andrea Carter and Louise Philips on stage for the Crime Fiction Night at Dunamaise Arts Centre

Leaves Festival
The Leaves Festival is held annually and celebrates the literary arts in Laois
Celebrating that diverse and rich talent, not only of writers but also of theatre, music and film. In 2016 the 5 day programme included a wonderful Literary & Music Evening at Roundwood House with guests Peter Fallon, Vona Groarke, Eoin McNamee and musician, Colm Mac an Iomaire.
A poetry workshop with Mary Ó Donnell and the launch of Arthur Broomfield’s new collection of poetry, “Cold Coffee at Emo Court” followed by an Open Mic Event. Another highlight included a Crime Writers Night, hosted by M.C. Sean Rocks of RTÉ Radio 1, with writers Andrea Carter, Thomas Enger (Norway), Niamh O’Connor and Louise Philips and music by saxophonist Rachel Clancy.
Other events included a screening of In the Heart of the Sea which is inspired by Melville’s great novel Moby Dick and Minding Frankie an adaptation for stage of a story by the late Maeve Binchy.

Analeen Lenaerts ( harp) and Dionysis Grammenos(Clarinet) performing at the Classical Music Concert at St. Peter’s Church of Ireland

The finale event with a wonderful classical music concert featuring Anneleen Lenearts(Harp) and Dionysis Grammenos(Clarinet), two dazzling virtuosi performing in concert in Portlaoise.

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National Drawing Day 2017
National Drawing Day is held annually in May with events planned to give the public the opportunity to engage and participate in creating art with the assistance of professional artists. Laois Arthouse, in conjunction with studio resident Saidhbhín Gibson, will host a workshop to encourage you to try out drawing. Join us for a fun workshop where you will learn about drawing on Saturday 20th May from 11am to 1pm at Laois Arthouse, Stradbally, Co Laois. Suitable for all ages, adults and children, and no experience is necessary. Advance booking is required, please contact the Arts Office on 057 866 4033/13 to book a place. Age 6 years to adults and children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult.

Saidhbhín Gibson recently completed a MFA in Sculpture at NCAD, Dublin. She employs a range of techniques in her practice including drawing, printmaking and needlepoint lace and uses various fabrication methods in her sculptural works.



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Community Festivals
Providing support for Festivals and Community Events

One of our major festivals in Laois is the Electric Picnic – full details on their website (link below)
 electric picnic

  • Electric Picnic is an annual arts-and-music festival which has been staged since 2004 at Stradbally Hall in Stradbally, County Laois, Ireland. It is organised by Pod Concerts and Festival Republic,

For all information on community Events and Festivals throughout Laois visit the  Laois Tourism website.

The arts office welcome ideas or suggestions – just contact the office on T: 057 8664033 or email us.

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