This year marks the eighth annual Ennis Street Festival and as the theme is Lets Explore, visitors and locals alike are being asked to explore the town, which will showcase all its treasures, be they local artists, performers, singers or dancers.
The festival, which is being held in conjunction with the Gathering Ireland, kicks off on Friday and runs until Sunday.
Eye sculptures around town will be looking out to catch the gaze of visitors over the festival as part of a special collaboration by Brian Curtin’s fifth-class pupils at Ennis National School.
In a warm-up to the festival, there will be plenty of theatre and music taking to the Glór stage, including two plays, This Happened in the City Jail, written and directed by Ennis woman Laura Mulcahy and Baglady by Frank McGuinness. They will be presented by Dhá Lamh Theatre this Thursday.
Meanwhile, Galway-based Vagabond Theatre Company present The Butcher Molloy by Conor Montague on Friday. On Saturday, there will be music and drama in Glór with Síomha Brock plus special guests and a one-act play entitled The Problem by AR Gurney Jr, directed by Joe Varden.
The hilarious The Tragic Comedy of Mr Punch puppet show, with Smithereens Theatre Company, will also be staged in Glór on Saturday and Sunday. Further comedy comes in the form of clown Professor Plunger and the amazing juggling escapologist Monsieur Gusto, who can be found in O’Connell Square, Merchants Square, Parnell Street and Barrack Street on Friday and Saturday.
People can explore the streets of Ennis to find other charming characters, such as Mr Oliver Plunk, Captain Windazz, Penny Farthing, and Peadar the friendliest Puppet, as well as the return of Nelly the elephant with Tic-Toc Puppets.
On Saturday, Ruth Marshall, a storyteller and poet from East Clare, will launch her book, Clare Folk Tales, in Glór.
More than 100 artists will display their work in numerous festival projects, such as the Art for All open-air exhibition at the Temple Gate car park on Saturday, organised by arts officer, Siobhán Mulcahy.
The Arts Trail, organised by Ana Colomer, will see a variety of artists exhibiting their work in shop windows at locations around the town, while Drawing in Drawing Out Drawing On is a group of exhibition drawings curated by Jose Croft at 80 Parnell Street.
Something Recalled is an open submission exhibition of Clare-based artists curated by Helen Carey in Glór, while the Art Bomb Project by Minnie Keane is where Ennis town will be bombed by signs, whereby the person who finds the signs gets to collect a free art or craft piece donated by Clare artists.
Ennis Music Project will bring together young people from all backgrounds to express themselves through the creative mediums of music, film, design and digital media with their MixTape Project on Friday outside Glór and Saturday in O’Connell Square.
An international Art and Craft Market will be held on Saturday at Garranaukilla car park (Farmer’s Market) and Sunday at Abbey Street car park, while a Thai Cultural Fair will be held at Merchants Square on Sunday with Thai dancing, food and massage.
As part of the night-time entertainment, Ennis Street Festival will host a range of exciting national and international music events in and around the town, including Windings at Brandon’s, Keith McDonald, Buck Taylor Experience and Harleys at O’Keeffe’s and the Latin Vibes by 8 Punto G from Barcelona at the Queen’s Bar.
The ducks will be leading the charge on Sunday as the popular duck race, which is now open to the public, is held. Following that, there will be an aerial dance show brought to Ennis by Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre, which will see performers take to the skies suspended on a 40m-high rig. There will be performances at 3pm and 11pm.
Also on Sunday local community groups, including Dinan School of Ballet, Break Through Dance Company, Summerville Irish Dance Academy, Zumba by Marta and Céilí Dance Workshops will perform in O’Connell Square.
A line-up of live music will take place in Abbey Street car park from 6pm on Sunday featuring Connectors, Earthship, Buzzmonkeys, Los Paddys de Las Pampas, The Bad Pennies, Sam Lavery, The Tom Foolers, The Mescalleros and Ripd, plus guests.