The answers to Frequently Asked Questions asked questions about the festival
Scroll down or download the 2019 Festival Syllabus,

What’s it all about?
The festival takes the form of several competing and non-competing choirs participating in a series of concerts, mini-performances and events that take place over four to five days, all over the county (region) of Mayo, in the west of Ireland. All events are open to a public audience. There are many beautiful and exciting scenic locations and interesting attractions in Mayo and choirs are encouraged to visit some of these during their visit and to experience the friendliness of people from Mayo.

Where’s the best place to get every bit of information?
The entry form, which contains the rules and regulations, is the best source of information about the festival. In order for choirs to get the best experience from the festival, we can’t stress enough the benefit of the choir reading the entry form in detail, at a very early stage in the participation planning. Entry forms can be downloaded from the festival website www.mayochoral.com.

Where is Mayo? 
The county of Mayo is located on the west coast of Ireland. Geographically it is the third largest county (region) in Ireland, and arguably the most scenic! The Wild Atlantic Way route trails it’s way around the coast.

How do we get to Mayo? 
Mayo is serviced by Ireland West International Airport, Knock, located in east Mayo, with connections to all major UK airports (average of just over one hours flying-time to UK). There is very good road access from Dublin if travelling by ferry. There is a very good direct rail service to many train stations in Mayo, from Dublin to Claremorris, Castlebar and Westport, and connections to Ballina.

How about transport while in Mayo?
Public bus transport is limited. Choirs are advised to check in advance if they will need to hire transport during their visit. While the festival does not book or pay for transport, we will advise on reputable and good value local coach and taxi providers. Transport may be necessary for travel to evening concerts (various towns), and competition venues (located in Castlebar). There will be a bus service, servicing the competition and accommodation venues in Castlebar throughout Saturday, the day of the competitions. There will be a very small charge payable to the bus driver, by each choir member individually or as a group, for this service.

Do we have to source and pay for our own accommodation?
Yes. However we can recommend accommodation considering your festival event participation and any other indicated accommodation requirements. There is a big choice of good quality and good value accommodation. We have visited all hotels and they have assured us that accommodation and meal costs will be at a very good value rate for visiting choirs – please mention that you are taking part in the choral festival to avail of this rate. We advise strongly to book your accommodation as early as possible, as rates tend to rise closer to the festival dates and when occupancy is high.

When should we book our own accommodation?
Immediately! The better-quality and better-value hotels tend to book out months in advance. For choirs wishing to take part in competitions, these are held on Saturday from early morning, so if travelling more than 30km from Mayo, we strongly recommend to book Friday and Saturday nights, at a minimum, as soon as the choir decides to participate in the festival. Some hotels may accept a provisional booking and we highly recommend to avail of same. In summary, to avail of the most comfortable and the best-value-for-money accommodation, and to avoid limited availability and possible high rates closer to the festival dates, please book your accommodation as many months in advance of the festival as possible.

How long should we come for?
The duration of stay is the choice of each choir. We encourage choirs to stay a few days either side of the festival dates, to experience the beautiful scenic locations in Mayo and the attractions and culture and heritage of the area. The festival programme starts on Wednesday, with a presentation honouring one of Mayo’s heroes or heroines in song and music. On Thursday, Friday and Sunday evenings, our community concerts take place, each featuring a visiting International or national choir, a local adult choir and a local youth choir, in venues that are most suitable to singing – from the quaint to the quirky! Saturday is the day for competitions, starting early in the morning, and finishing Saturday night with the premier competition, featuring the winning choirs of each category. There are also mini-performances throughout the towns on Saturday by the choirs. Our closing event will take place on Sunday. A full programme is announced in early March, once all entries have been processed.

How many events are choirs involved in? 
Competing Choirs are asked to participate in at least one other event, other than competitions (maximum number of competitions a choir can enter is three competition categories). Non-competing choirs are equally as welcome. Events vary from singing in formal concerts to mini-performances on the Songway Choral Trail – some locations in pubs!

Are there facilities available for special needs?
It is helpful if we know in advance of any requirements for members with reduced mobility or other requirements, and we request this to be noted on our entry form. All our venues are wheelchair accessible.

Can non-competing choirs enter the festival? 
We welcome equally non-competing choirs and are involved in whatever events they wish to participate – and don’t forget there is a category (and prizes!) for choirs who have never competed in any choral festival before – ‘First Time Competitors’. There are two separate entry forms, one for competing choirs and one for non-competing choirs. Entry forms are available to download www.mayochoral.com

How do the evening concerts work? 
We ask on our entry form if and what day your choir would like to participate in one of our evening concerts. At each concert, we strive to feature a visiting International or national choir, a local adult choir and a local youth choir. The duration of performance for the International or National Choir is on average 15 to 20 minutes. Depending on the choir’s schedule, there are the customary complimentary light refreshments immediately after the concert and this gives a chance for choirs to meet each other and share their experiencesl. The festival committee will advise in advance the locations and details of evening concerts. Choirs performing in the evening concert submit by email closer to the event time, a list of the songs/pieces that they will sing at the concert.

What does participation cost and how do we enter? 
The entry fee to participate in the festival is €85, which also includes entry to one competition category. Entry to each competition category thereafter is €85. €5 of each entry will go towards the ‘greening our festival’ programme, in order to minimise the festival’s carbon footprint. There are two separate entry forms, one for competing choirs and one for non-competing choirs. Entry forms are available to download from our website www.mayochoral.com or email info@mayochoral.com and we will email a copy to you.

Compiled by Declan Durcan, Festival Producer, 31.08.2018