Spraoi festival comes of age

The age of 21 is a milestone, so this year the fireworks will be brighter as the Spraoi festival in Waterford comes of age.

Spraoi festival comes of age

The international street-arts festival is synonymous with the August bank holiday weekend. Its reputation spreads far beyond the Viking city’s walls. The extensive programme of street theatre features a host of visiting productions. International acts and local performers take over the city’s winding, medieval streets, quays and plazas.

The Spraoi parade, the company’s own production, is the climax of the festival. This year’s maritime-themed production, ‘Flotsam and Jetsam’, will weave through Waterford’s city centre, and is expected to be watched by 30,000 spectators.

The parade will be followed by a dazzling fireworks display from the renowned Pyrofantasia, over the River Suir. Among the highlights will be two stunning, vertical dance shows, performed by the Delrevés Company, from Barcelona. The dancers will perform on the facade of the Menapia Building, on the Mall, throughout the weekend.

Other productions include the world premiere of Bunk, a cutting-edge aerial circus show performed by PaperDolls.

Children and teens get their very own festival, the wonderfully titled ‘SprÓg’, from Jul 29 to Aug 4. This year, the companion event blends arts, culture and science in a series of fun workshops. There will also be a series of percussion workshops, with the Waterford Academy of Music and Arts, which will be followed by performances of WAMAS’s own percussion group, The Big Bang Theory. The percussion theme is continued with performances from the Spraoi Junior Drummers, performing a mix of African, Brazilian and Caribbean beats.

For A String of Sound, musicians will play a series of intimate acoustic sessions, across all genres, in some of the city’s more unusual spaces.

Beginning at 8pm, the sessions will finish as darkness descends over the city.

Movie and music buffs are in for a treat, with a late-night showing of the 1925 silent film of Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Chaney, with a live organ accompaniment by Eric Sweeney.

The festival’s music events also combine local and international talent, with performances across the city.

The Maxol main music stage, located on the quayside at the William Vincent Wallace Plaza, will host a variety of top-class acts, including hometown heroes, O Emperor, on Saturday night and the wonderfully eclectic, Jam Tarts Orchestra, on Sunday evening.

In addition, there will be free live music in the pubs and venues on the Carlsberg Rhythm Routes.

In its 21 years, Spraoi has showcased and premiered the work of dozens of companies, engaged with hundreds of artists, given performance opportunities to thousands of people, and entertained millions.

As part of its birthday celebrations, it is presenting a visual celebration of the festival, the company, and the audience. ‘The Key is Spraoi’, based in Blackfriars, features video footage, photos, posters, parade costumes, masks and props from the last 21 years of festivals.

The exhibition will be open from Tues, July 30 to Sun, Aug 4.

Of course, no 21st birthday would be complete without a party. A line-up of some of the best bands at the festival will bring the curtain down on the festival, at The Forum, in Waterford, from 11pm.

- See www.spraoi.com

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