This year, government initiative Creative Ireland is highlighting some of the best projects, events, and initiatives that are bringing culture and the arts to the forefront in every Irish county and Co. Laois is no different.

Laois already boasts a robust arts and library infrastructure which includes such flagship institutions as the Dunamaise Arts Centre - the county’s primary multi-disciplinary performance space - the Laois Arthouse, and the Laois School of Music.

We especially recommend these upcoming events, which are a part of the Creative Ireland county initiatives and beyond, as well as some fantastic ongoing projects that constantly promote creativity in the county. For just a taster of what's to come in Co. Laois, take a look at the fantastic evening in Dunamaise Arts Center for Cruinniú na Cásca. 

County Archive Programme

This year, Co. Laois library service will focus on the cultural heritage of the county with talks on genealogy and family history. Family History days will be held in branch libraries with free access to all, and talks on folklore, Laois customs, and changing cultures will also be held. 

Pollinator Multidisciplinary Art Commission

In 2017, Laois County Council is working in partnership with Offaly County Council to invite artists of any discipline to respond with a project proposal to explore and bring pollination to the wider public through art as part of the Council’s response to the All Ireland Pollinator Programme 2015-20. 

Laois School of Music

Laois School of Music provides high-quality tuition across a range of instruments and is recognized as a Centre of Excellence for music tuition for Laois and surrounding areas. The School of Music has over 300 students in its evening classes with 14 part-time specialized tutors. There is a thriving orchestral program with up to 60 members that make up the LSM Youth Orchestra who have worked on large events such as the Music Generation Laois New Works Series.

The Electric Picnic

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

You wouldn’t want to miss out on the biggest music festival in Ireland, would you? Electric Picnic runs September 1 - 2 at Stradbally Hall, Stradbally Co. Laois. The massive three-day event features headliners like Sigur Ros, Florence and the Machine, The Cure, Beck and LCD Soundsystem.

Knock Threshing Festival 

A parade of steam engines, vintage tractors and cars gather in the threshing field at Knock on September 9 and 10, where a great day out is planned for young and old. There's something for everyone - various displays, demonstrations, crafts and cooking from times past, vintage cars and farm machinery, steam threshing displays, wood cutting, farrier, butter making, crafts, photographs and memorabilia.

Digitization program

Laois County Council will this year commence the digitization of Laois County Council archives to include records of Portlaoise Town Council, Laois County Council, Workhouse records and the Helen Roe Archive.

Laois Culture Night

Culture Night is an annual all-island public event that celebrates culture, creativity, and the arts. Special and unique events and workshops are specifically programmed at participating locations and everything is available free of charge. The full program will be announced in August, so keep an eye out! September 22, 2017.

Spoken Word Project

Laois County Council, in partnership with the Arts Council of Ireland and Creative Ireland, will host a Spoken Word Residency. The target group for this project is young people, aged 12 to 20 years. Spoken Word is an increasingly popular performance art that many young people use as an outlet for self-expression.

Portlaoise Halloween Howls Festival

Instead of shrieking with fear for Halloween, how about screaming with laughter at the Halloween Howls Festival in Portlaoise October 27 - 31? Past years have included sets by David O'Doherty, Colm O'Regan, Al Porter, and Alison Spittle. 

Ballinakill Vintage & Classic Car Show

Entertainment and skills exhibitions will run throughout the day along with a larger autojumble area in this bright and spacious venue at Laois Shopping Centre. This show now attracts visitors, traders and exhibitors from all over Ireland. Run by the Ballinakill Vintage & Classic Owners Club, October 27. 

Tionól: Harps & Pipes

An annual festival of harps and pipes held November 3 - 5 in Co. Laois by Music Generation Ireland. Especially for 2017, Music Generation Laois will commission a composer to create a suite of music for harp orchestra, in collaboration with young harpists from the Music Generation Laois Trad program, to premiere at the festival.

James Fintan Lalor Autumn School 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The annual James Fintan Lalor School takes places in Portlaoise each year to honor the writings of Laois-born writer and patriot, James Fintan Lalor, who also gives his name to a street in Portlaoise. In 2017, the School, which will be run by Laois Heritage Society with the support of Laois County Council and will take place in November.

Laois Walks Festival

The Laois Walks Festival features over twenty walks along numerous woodland, mountain, bog, canal and minor road routes. The Laois Walks Festival runs for the full month of July and takes in 20 walks. This is a great opportunity to get outdoors and to become more familiar with the wonderful range of walks that Laois has to offer. Look out for more in 2018! 

National Steam Rally

Photo: Irish Steam Preservation Society Facebook

Photo: Irish Steam Preservation Society Facebook

The National Steam Rally is an utterly unique event, bringing the very best in steam and vintage vehicles to the grounds of Stradbally Hall in Co. Laois August 6 and 7. Steam engine shows, tractor pulls, steam train rides, musical performances, trade stands, a carnival and more, hosted by the Irish Steam Preservation Society. The 2017 rally was a resounding success, and 2018 will be sure to impress, too. 

Check out Co. Laois' full culture and creativity plans here.

Is there an upcoming event in Co. Laois you think people should know about? Tell us in the comment section.