Full details unveiled as the countdown begins to Longford Lights 2024

Thousands of spectators expected at multiple award-nominated Longford Town family festival

Press Release: 13 February 2024

Following its successful local launch, Longford County Council is delighted to announce the full lineup of featured artists for the Longford Lights Festival 2024. Tickets are already booking up fast for the festival, which takes place from 6-9pm, over three evenings from the 23-25 February in Connolly Barracks, Longford.  Involving over 400 members of local communities as well as offering employment opportunities to many artists, Longford Lights is a partnership between Longford County Council and Mide Arts Group with funding support from the Arts Council, Creative Ireland and Fáilte Ireland.

In 2023, thousands of spectators came through the gates of Connolly Barracks to witness the special spectacle and this year, the demand for tickets has already been bigger than ever before. Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council Cllr Colm Murray said, “I’m encouraging everyone to visit Longfordcoco.ie and reserve their free tickets for Longford Lights as soon as possible to avoid disappointment, and to show support for both our local and national artists and our local community groups who are putting a massive effort into the creation and organisation of this fantastic spectacle.” 

Longford County Council Chief Executive Paddy Mahon added, “We are looking forward to yet another event which continues to put Longford firmly on the map as a cultural and artistic destination of choice. Longford Lights is an ideal evening out in Longford Town that all the family will enjoy.”

What is the Longford Lights festival?Longford Lights is a festival that celebrates the illuminated art form in general, specialising in community-based lantern art. Starting in 2022 as part of the Arts Council and Longford County Council's Faoin Spéir Programme, the festival was developed by artist Tom Meskell and producer Shane Crossan. In 2023, the festival took over the entire Connolly Barracks site and was attended by approximately 12,000 with lanterns, workshops, projections and music all combining to create a wondrous celebration of all things light-filled, for all the family to enjoy.

Lighting up 2024

This year the festival has expanded in scale, ambition and art forms. The festival team of producer Brendan Magan, Lisa Brady and Tommy Casby, is steered by Artistic Director Caroline Conway. There will be 26 separate art exhibitions featured throughout the site. The festival is being produced by Longford County Council Arts Service in partnership with the local community arts development group – Mide Arts Group. It will see a total of 24 artists participating including two international artists, 11 national and a further 11 local artists. The 26 art installations in total have been brought together by 43 participating community groups combined to make Longford Lights the largest community-based arts lights festival in Ireland.

A new direction 

This year, with the new artistic direction of Caroline Conway, we also see the addition of an exciting new performance programme for the festival. This will include:

  • Spanish street theatre group Cal y Canto
  • Longford's much-loved Bula Bula Samba Band
  • Samba Soup
  • Babylon Inferno’s Fire Dancers
  • The Stevie Wicks Circus Troupe
  • Giant Puppet procession 

The Longford Lights experience: 

Scan the QR code on any of our posters or flyers to book your free tickets, or visit Longfordcoco.ie and click on the link there. Tickets may be booked for entry at 30-minute intervals, starting from 6pm each evening, with the final slot beginning at 8:30pm each night of the festival. Attendees may stay as long as they choose, with the festival running until 9pm each night. 

The Illuminated Journey

Upon entering Connolly Barracks, festival-goers may journey around the campus viewing and experiencing 26 separate indoor and outdoor illumination-based art exhibitions. At regular intervals, live music, circus and theatrical performances will take place around the campus. There is also a food and rest area for patrons and bench seating will be scattered throughout the campus for those who may need it.

Featuring exciting international artists

Michelle Dufaur (UK) is a Contemporary Artist and Maker working in Willow, Paper and Steel. A symbiosis of materials, sketching with wood, shrouding in tissues and creating permanence in metal. This is Michelle’s second time working on Longford lights. This year she is working again with volunteers from Longford ICA Federation on an installation called “Uisce Beo”. The piece builds on her work last year involving swans and the mythical story of the Children of Lir.

Cal y Canto Teatro is a Spanish group specializing in street theatre performance and the use of handmade kites. They are known for creating their own imagery and for the creation of site-specific shows such as The Wind Garden. Their shows have invented new languages that surprise the audience and invite community participation. Touring more than 25 countries around the world, Cal y Canto invents amazing visual languages for the public to enjoy.

Cal y Canto will be delivering a workshop for anyone aged between seven and 15 on Saturday 24, February from 2-4pm in the Temperance Hall, Longford Town. In the workshop, participants will make a kite and will be invited to perform with Cal y Canto that evening as part of the Longford Lights festival.

National Artists

This year, the inimitable artistic expression of Artistic Director Caroline Conway is on view again. Caroline has committed to delivering one of the largest community art projects ever seen in County Longford. Beacons of Light involves over 40 primary schools and community groups in making over 1,200 lanterns for an epic light installation. Each lantern has the name of the maker and so the installation will represent the breadth of the community. The festival also welcomes back its former Artistic Director Tom Meskell, who returns with his Silva Lumina installation commissioned for a recent sell-out exhibition in the Botanic Gardens in Dublin as part of the First Fortnight mental health festival. A resident artist with Macnas in Galway, Tommy Casby is assisting Caroline Conway with art direction and mentoring of local artists as they work on the festival. Tommy is also creating one of the signature pieces of the Festival – ‘Vesta’ – a 9-meter-tall woman wearing a dress of flames. Composer Phil Fogarty of Galway has created a site-specific interactive digital art piece, called Still Spinning Rainbows. Caoimhe Dunn from Wexford is an artists and model-maker who will be delivering workshops with community groups and individuals to build a giant puppet for Longford Lights. Paul Bokslag of Kilkenny is a visual artist and designer who is bringing his unique art of large-scale paper cuts to Longford Lights. Philip Ryan and Martin Gloin of Waterford are Nocht Studio. They are bringing a piece to Longford Lights called Narcissus II  - an interactive sculpture containing a one-way mirror with two lights that plays with shadow and reflection. Emma Donoghue is working with service users from St Christopher’s to develop an ambitious installation inspired by objects and materials found in the natural environment. The piece is called Solas le Chéile.

Additional details, with tips and tricks on how to get to the exciting 2024 Longford Lights festival will be announced next week in the run up to opening night. For updates, follow Longford County Council on social media and check out Longfordcoco.ie.