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Well Festival of Arts and Wellbeing 2023

Good Vibrations, Celebrating Love, Life and Magic, and Standing Shoulder to Shoulder are some of the highlights of this year’s Well Festival of Arts and Wellbeing.  Taking place in Waterford Monday 13 to Saturday 18 February, the Well Festival features an inspirational line-up of fun, free, inventive and sociable arts events for all ages.

In this, its tenth year, the festival presents musicians, artists, poets, storytellers and dancers, as well as a programme of Wellies, the festival’s events for younger audiences.  The full festival programme is available from www.wellwaterford.com and can be downloaded by clicking here.

The Well Festival of Arts and Wellbeing champions and celebrates all the ways that the arts help us to feel good.  Each day, festival-goers will have the opportunity to witness colourful, beautiful, thought-provoking music, art, movement and literature, and to experience the joy of creativity through a range of workshops and interactive opportunities for all ages.Festival 2023 Highlights
Highlights of the Well Festival of Arts and Wellbeing 2023 programme include:

  • Fancy a lift?, a daily poetry postcard, curated by poet Stephen James Smith, delivered on meal trays to patients at University Hospital Waterford (UHW), through Waterford Libraries and online via www.wellwaterford.com ;
  • Celebrating Love, Life and Magic, a St Valentine’s Day joyful, inclusive dance workshop led by Traces Dance Ensemble members Grace Howley and Brian McSweeney, with mentor support from Trish Murphy, Dee Grant and Rachel Ní Bhraonáin;
  • Standing Shoulder to Shoulder, a special exhibition by the Waterford New Community Women’s Shed and the Déise Men’s Shed, demonstrating the wellbeing benefits of coming together to learn and share new skills in a safe, relaxed space;
  • Why Arts?, the Well Festival Keynote conversation, featuring Dr Chris Fitzpatrick, poet and former Master of the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital Dublin, and journalist and proud Waterford woman Jennifer O’Connell;
  • Good Vibrations, a continuous professional development (CPD) workshop for musicians working in mental health settings, led by Jane O’Brien Moran
  • Cuppa & Ceol, a sociable, music-infused tea party with well-known musician Liam Merriman;
  • A range of workshops for all ages, including Wet Felting with artist Catherine Callanan; The Big Reel, a relaxing movement workshop with dancer Philippa Donnellan and musician Sadhbh O’Sullivan, and Aga’s Baby Story Massage Taster Class, a wellbeing workshop for parents and their babies;
  • Healing Sounds Sessions with Waterford Healing Arts Trust’s musicians at the bedside of patients and residents in various settings;
  • Embrace the arts at your library, a special Well Festival selection of books celebrating the benefits of reading, curated by Waterford Libraries staff;
  • Find the Butterfly, Find the Bee, a special exhibition at University Hospital Waterford created by artist John Conway from his conversations with professional healthcare staff working in paediatric settings;
  • and the much loved festival flagship event We haven’t had an earthquake lately, supported and hosted by The Book Centre Waterford, led once again by Guest MC Catherine Drea.
  • For younger audiences, the Wellies programme invites children and young people to finesse their Circus Crafts and Juggling skills with Enda Moran, get lost in their imaginations with Joe Brennan’s Magical Stories and hone their drawing skills in a Children’s Illustration Workshop with Well Festival favourite Shona Shirley MacDonaldSpeaking at the launch of the festival programme, Claire Meaney, Director of Waterford Healing Arts Trust, said “We are thrilled to present our tenth Well Festival in Waterford in person this year.  Having re-imagined our festival over the past three years in the virtual space, we can’t wait to come together with our lovely audiences to experience, in person, the power of the arts to lift our spirits and nurture our wellbeing.”Breda O’Shea of Waterford City and County Libraries added “Winter into spring is a great time of year for our festival, with the promise of new beginnings, connection and colour.  We invite you, the people of Waterford, and our Well friends far and wide, to join us as we explore, reach out and make new connections each day.”Sile Penkert, Executive Director of Garter Lane Arts Centre, continued “The Well Festival gives us a unique opportunity to offer inspiring experiences to our community, to creatively engage with each other, and to remind ourselves of the beauty that exists all around us, even in the midst of challenging times.  We hope that, through our festival programme, our audiences will find their own route to self-expression and creative fulfilment and we look forward to welcoming everyone to our events.”The Well Festival of Arts and Wellbeing is funded by the Arts Council, the HSE and Waterford City and County Council, with generous support from Sanofi.  The festival is presented by Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford City and County Libraries and Waterford Healing Arts Trust.  The full festival programme is available at www.wellwaterford.com
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