Culture vultures fly in for medley of world music
SHE came to Ireland for a holiday but ended up working.
However, Hong Kong native Chao Tung Kwok didn't mind because she got two things she'd been seeking on her trip -- entertainment and good company.
The 24-year-old is visiting Ireland for a month and volunteered to help at this weekend's Festival of World Culture's in Dun Laoghaire.
In return she -- and 300 other volunteers who are helping the festival to run smoothly -- get free passes to all the events.
"The volunteers came from all over the world," she said. "We met people from France, Poland, Sweden and China."
But not everybody had to take a flight or ferry to get there. Niamh Collins and Emer Duane travelled from Cork to the capital for the unique weekend, something they've been doing for several years since they discovered the event.
"We love how it's a festival that you don't have to camp at," a relieved Niamh said.
"There's not enough world music in Ireland, so this is great for that," added Emer.
The festival kicked off last night with a unique mix of music from Canada, Norway and Ireland. The simple sound of a bird brought artists from the three nations together in Monkstown Church.
"Iarla O Lionaird has a song he sings in sean nos but it sounds like a cuckoo," said stage manager Frances Mitchell.
"When the other acts (Canadian Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Norwegian band Aedjagas) heard this, they loved it because it reminded them of songs in their culture where they sing about the cuckoo."
In a 90-minute concert, the three acts wowed the 500-strong crowd with an international medley of music.
The three-day festival is in its 10th year and is expected to attract up to 250,000 people. More than 800 artists from 33 countries will perform over this weekend, showcasing the best in arts and culture from across the globe.
Olga Barry, general manager of the festival, said most of the events would be free, while there has been strong demand for pay-to-attend performances.
"You can bring your kids to this festival and not part with any money," she said.
Extra DART, Dublin Bus and Nitelink services are planned, with road closures in place throughout Dun Laoghaire. The road closures will take effect from 8am to 9pm, today and tomorrow.
Meanwhile, those who can't make it can listen to the various acts via the festival's internet radio station.
As well as live concerts from the main stage, it features backstage interviews and specialist documentaries.
For those who are not interested in the music, there are a number of food fairs and market stalls setting up around the village. Free Tai Chi and Yoga classes are also taking place.