Daring Dames Festival

Be amazed at all the female talent in Daring Dames – Ireland’s first all female circus festival. From astonishing acrobatics to hilarious clowns, Ireland’s circus artistes entertain and enthrall.

The Daring Dames Festival – Ireland’s first all female circus festival – was held on Achill Island, Co Mayo, weekend 5-6 March, to coincide with International Women’s Day.

On Saturday, established acts and performances from throughout Ireland were showcased alongside new and emerging talent to a sold-out audience at the historic Valley House. With daytime shows, an astonishing Daring Dames evening cabaret, new work showcases and the brand new Triple Goddess closing fire show, the Festival celebrated women artists of the past, of today and to come.

On Sunday it was time to reflect, with special screenings of women in circus films, an entertaining talk on the history of women in circus by Professor Vanessa Toulmin and a discussion on ‘Women in Circus in Ireland – what next?’

Audiences and participants came from all over the country, from Cork to Belfast, to join packed out houses and teeming courtyard, and take part in the discussions and panels. We were joined by representatives from Arts Council Ireland, Dublin Circus Project, Circusful and beyond.

The Daring Dames Festival will be an annual event, a time to celebrate women circus artistes of skill and courage, support those who are emerging and new, and discuss and reflect on the way ahead.

Next year’s Daring Dames will take place on Achill Island, Co Mayo, on weekend 4-5 March 2023. Put the date in your diary so you don’t miss it!

In the meantime, watch out for the tour of Daring Dames Cabaret, featuring women of astounding skill and creative courage, near you.

Daring Dames was supported by a First Time Festival grant from Arts Council Ireland.

Photography by Conor McKeown