Now in its eighth year, First Fortnight 2017 will see live music, film, theatre, discussion and arts events staged to create open discussion and understanding of mental health problems, and challenge prejudice and discrimination.  First Fortnight is an arts-based mental health charity that organizes a festival in the first two weeks of the year aimed at challenging stigma and discrimination.

An awareness campaign in the First Fortnight of the year works because we are all a little raw that time of year and more likely to be open to an empathic response. First Fortnight has become a fixture in the cultural calendar and synonymous with mental health awareness, challenging prejudice and ending stigma.     

Among the highlights of the festival are leading sports journalist Paul Kimmage, comedian Eleanor Tiernan, a new documentary about controversial Irish psychiatrist Ivor Browne, and appearances and contributions from music acts Otherkin, Girl Band, Le Galaxie, R.S.A.G and Windings.

Speaking at the launch of this year’s festival program, Helen McEntee, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, said “Talking about mental health can help us to eliminate any associated stigma. Events like First Fortnight can help to create a space in which such conversations can take place.

“The timing of this festival is crucial as it takes place in early January, the bleakest time of the year, especially for those vulnerable among us."

Launching the official festival program, First Fortnight co-founder and project manager JP Swaine said  “First Fortnight has become synonymous with fresh, creative and innovative ways to spark the national conversation on mental health. Each festival that passes seems to encourage a new crop of artists to work creatively in response to mental health as an issue in Irish society and it has been hugely encouraging to meet with artists who have been developing their work with the expressed purpose of contributing to the First Fortnight.”

Among the events taking place across Dublin and selected venues nationwide include Sunday Assembly - a unique music and talk event that bills itself as 'the godless congregation for people who want to live better, help often and wonder more'. With the help of their house musician Paddy Cullivan (The Camembert Quartet/ The Late Late Show House Band) and The Mellow Tonics choir, gather at Dublin’s Unitarian Church on New Year’s Day to hear engaging speakers discuss mental health and be surrounded by secular positivity. This event will be staged in partnership with New Year’s Festival Dublin. 

Other events taking place on New Year’s Day in partnership with NYF Dublin include an outdoor screening of the acclaimed Disney movie Inside Out, a children’s workshop around the themes of emotion expressed in the movie, entitled Hello Myself and Co-Motion a unique music and walking event. 

The Wonder Eye, a premiere of a brand new documentary about former psychiatrist Ivor Browne – a central figure in Irish mental health for many decades – will be shown at the IFI, Dublin on January 14. The documentary features contributions from Tommy Tiernan, Tom Murphy, Mary Coughlan, Sebastian Barry and Nell McCafferty, among others.

Banter: Paul Kimmage in conversation will see one of the most influential and widely read sportswriters in the country discuss his career as a professional cyclist, his career as a sportswriter and the mental stresses and strains which occur in sport.

Acclaimed Mark Ruffalo movie Infinitely Polar Bear will be screened nationwide in partnership with IFI National, while First Fortnight will once again return to St Patrick’s Hospital for a series of unique events.  This will include Cistin – Songs & Stories – a performance featuring songwriters and storytellers.

Two Therapy Sessions – music and  spoken word events – will take place at the Workman’s Club, Dublin curated by Girl Band, Le Galaxie and Stephen James Smith. Musicians who will feature throughout the festival include Windings, R.S.A.G, Paddy Hanna, Otherkin, Tongue Bundle, Reggetto, Ben Waddell and Dunny.

This year’s festival presenting partners include; Mental Health Reform; St Patrick’s Mental Health Services; Mental Health Ireland and See Change, the National Mental Health Stigma Reduction Partnership.

Other events taking place at First Fortnight 2017 include OutStraight – a concept pop-up, combining spoken word theatre with visual art graffiti; comedy from Eleanor Tiernan and Grainne McKeever; award-winning theatre production Half Light; Co-Motion - a musical walking experience;  stunning dance and spoken word events; and much, much more The full line-up can be viewed at