Over 2,000 singers from 60 Irish and international choirs will take part in the inaugural Fingal International Festival of Voices from March 12-15.
The four-day event, which takes place in Balbriggan, will feature top choirs from Ireland, the UK, Belarus and the US and is expected to attract many visitors to Ireland's youngest town.
The festival will open on Thursday evening, March 12 with a series of Friendship Concerts in Balbriggan, Rush and Malahide featuring collaborations between the visiting international choirs and local groups.
From Friday Balbriggan will host performances of sacred music, Indian classical music and percussion, Malahide Singing Circle, a barbershop chorus, Céilí dancing and workshops on such diverse topics as the aging voice and music of the holocaust
Candlelit tales, on Friday and Saturday, will breathe new life into Irish myths and legends in St George's church and younger audiences can make archaeological discoveries at The Big Dig on Saturday and Sunday in the Festival Pavillion.
The festival will also feature folk singing, workshops and talks from international experts, a festival pavilion with food trucks, a busking competition and a singing trail.
Competition is a central aspect of the weekend and the Grand-Prix final in the St Peter and Paul's Church on Saturday evening at 8pm, will see winners of the Folk Music, Sacred Music, Barbershop Chorus and Open Category competitions battle it out for the Fingal International Festival of Voices trophy and €3,000.
A wildcard place entry to the Grand-Prix will be awarded to another act for the most entertaining non-first-place performance by a large choir.
Throughout then weekend, concerts will take place at St George’s Church, Balbriggan Community Centre, St Peter and Paul’s Church, the Festival Pavillion and the Bracken Court Hotel.
The founder and artistic director of the festival, has committed to running the festival for at least five years.
“This is not a once-off event. We already have the dates decided and ideas in place for the next editions of the festival,” Michael Dawson said.
The festival will celebrate the multicultural diversity of Ireland’s youngest town by providing a platform for individuals and communities to showcase their culture through story-telling and spoken word events.
The vast majority of events and activities will be free to attend – only the Grand Prix final of the choral competition, the Candlelit Tales and the Friendship Concerts will be ticketed.
“I deliberately wanted the festival to celebrate diversity and build community through inclusion,” said Mr Dawson.
“Balbriggan is one of the youngest towns in Europe, and it has a massive multicultural population which was a perfect fit for what we wanted the festival to be.
“We called it Fingal International Festival of Voices because we wanted to encourage people to tell their stories through spoken word, solo or choir singing.”
Fingal Mayor Cllr. Eoghan O’Brien has welcomed festival participants to Balbriggan.
“The three day festival will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase Balbriggan on the international stage,” he said.
Increasing the number of festivals and quality events in the town is one of 20 actions in 12 months identified in the Our Balbriggan Rejuvenation Plan.
“I am delighted that we are able to support this festival through our Council wide Events Fund and look forward to its many successes into the future,” said Emer O’Gorman, Director of Economic, Enterprise and Tourism.
Tickets for the Friendship Concerts, Candlelit Tales and the Grand Prix are available on Eventbrite.