As the sun sets on an October evening, wide-eyed children perch on their parents’ shoulders waiting in anticipation for the festivities to begin, while excited adults with childlike expressions reminisce about their first Macnas parade experienced decades earlier.
And then it begins. First, the drums: a rhythmic heartbeat in the distance. Next, the music, meandering its way to eager ears. And finally, the spectacle comes into view!
Giant puppets, intriguing characters and enchanting dancers gracefully emerge from the shadows, their story coming to life as pockets of smoke and fire fill the air and collective gasps ring out from the crowd.
There are few Galwegians who have not experienced the vibrancy, creativity and electric energy of a Macnas spectacle, which returns to the streets of Galway on Sunday 29 October after a four-year hiatus.
“We are back and we are ready to make some magic,” said parade director James Readon.
This year’s parade, ‘Cnámha na Loba’ is inspired by the legend of La Loba, a wild Wolf-Woman, standing at almost 5m tall and decorated head to toe in a unique creation of deathly white skulls, according to James.
“She is a wild wolf woman who has sung life back into all manner of almost forgotten tribes and Gods, conjuring them to the streets once more in a communal celebration of the ancestors that have come before us.” said James.
“Expect over 100 performers, dancers, huge puppets, and live musicians in stunning costumes, all coming together for our first street parade in four years and bringing with them Macnas’ signature collaborative creativity, electric energy, and joyous abandon.”
Masters of storytelling and pioneers of imagination, Macnas has been entertaining audiences with their immersive and mystical parades, installations, and theatre performances since 1986.
With its headquarters on the University of Galway’s South Campus, students may have already witnessed the Macnas drummers rehearsing on Thursday evenings, or heard the brass band belting out tunes as they strolled from Sult into town via Fisheries Field where the Macnas office is located.
Since its inception, the award-winning and internationally acclaimed company has performed in over 20 countries, from Australia to China and Russia, and across the USA and Europe. They have headlined celebrations of countless events and festivals including St. Patrick’s Day, the Bram Stoker Festival, Galway International Arts Festival and the Dublin Fringe Festival to name a few.
Macnas also created the now iconic ‘U2 Heads’ and joined the band on the Zooropa Tour in 1992. And in 2016, they became the first spectacle company in the world to premiere at the famed South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.
This year’s parade is commencing at 5.30pm at the Cathedral and will wind its way through the city, past the Town Hall Theatre, down Shop Street, over O’Briens Bridge, and finishing at Monroes Bar on Dominick Street.
For more information, visit https://www.macnas.com/works/halloween-parade-2023