Eoin Butler checks out the feast of world-class events coming to Dublin this season
Autumn may be upon us, but arts lovers are in for an extended Indian summer as festival season comes to the capital. With the tourist hoards out of the way, there couldn't be a better time for culture vultures to plan a visit to the city, as the months of September and October are packed with world-class arts events spanning from art to architecture and books to beer.
Best of all, a good proportion of these events can be enjoyed for free, so there's no excuse not to get involved.
Fun at the Fringe
Back-to-school blues? Forget about them, as Ireland's largest multi-disciplinary arts extravaganza, the Dublin Fringe Festival (September 5-22), comes to town next month. This sprawling annual showcase of Irish and international talent includes more than 600 events, spanning the disciplines of dance, theatre, music, circus, opera and visual arts.
A highlight this year is ANU Productions' 'Thirteen', a series of 13 interconnected works combining performance, installation and digital technology, commemorating the 1913 Lockout.
With 30 venues participating across the city, this by any reckoning is one of the highlights of the city's cultural calendar. But remember to book early, as these events often sell out.
Seamus Heaney is the star literary attraction at the Mountains to Sea Festival (September 3-8), Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown Co Council's annual celebration of all things literary. The Nobel Laureate will be reading poems from his near half-century of work, while Canadian poet and novelist Margaret Atwood will be reading from her new book 'MaddAddam'.
Declan Hughes is writer in residence, while former 'Fast Show' comedian Charlie Higson will be lowering the tone irreverently with his talk about the zombie horror slasher genre. Meanwhile, children's authors Derek Landy, Niamh Sharkey and Judi Curtin will be on hand to entertain the kids.
There will also be poetry recitals, creative writing workshops and a Picture Book Picnic in the park.
Do Dublin in style
Fashion shows, pop-up shops, a 'selfies' booth and beauty bus are just some of the attractions at this year's Dublin Fashion Festival (September 5-8.) A showcase for the best in Irish design, the festival promises to bring style to the city with street fashion shows, workshops, industry demos and insider talks.
More than 250 city-centre businesses will be getting involved, many hosting free in-store events, customer specials and discounts. The face of the festival is MTV presenter Laura Whitmore.
Wurst und bier
Grab your lederhosen and loosen your belt, as Oktoberfest (September 19-October 6) comes to Dublin's Docklands yet again. This annual festival was originally held to celebrate the marriage of King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in Munich in October 1810.
But you don't have to be a fan of arcane German royal history to get involved. Along with gallons of traditional Bavarian beer, served by 'authentic' (read: buxom) Oktoberfest barmaids, there'll be sauerkraut and bratwurst, as well as a host of other marginally edible traditional German delicacies.
And hey, if you 'get into the spirit' (read: hammered), you may even be persuaded to dance a polka to live music performed by traditional Bavarian musicians.
Stay up late for culture
One of the jewels of the city's calendar is Culture Night (September 20), a magical opportunity to visit the city's museums, galleries, churches, historic sites and artist studios free of charge. Of course, it's a social as much as a cultural event, with talks, tours, performances and events.
And if you're not interested in the arts? Well, you may still enjoy getting sloshed on the cheap as, for one night only, Dublin becomes a philistine's playground of free wine and canapés. Just don't tell anyone I told you that.
A new play by Frank McGuinness, a fresh translation of 'The Threepenny Opera' and a new production of 'Waiting for Godot' are the marquee attractions, as the curtain rises on this year's Dublin Theatre Festival (September 26-October 13).
Alongside a packed 18-day programme of Irish and international theatrical productions, there'll be actors' salons, Q&As with critics and directors, work-in-progress showcases and free public events.
Bottoms up for Arthur's Day
Love it or hate it, Diageo's annual marketing blitz (September 26) is now a fixture in the capital's live music calendar. So much so, in fact, that many of the big-name international acts jetted in to play at small venues around the city each year appear to believe the last Thursday in September is a bona fide national holiday in Ireland.
The Script, Emeli Sande, Bobby Womack and Manic Street Preachers lead this year's festivities. Enjoy the music and the Guinness – but avoid Temple Bar after dark... unless you fancy wading through a sea of vomit and broken glass.
Discover music's next big thing
Arthur's Day may lure bigger names, but Hard Working Class Heroes 2013 (October 3-5) is a much more representative showcase of grassroots talent currently working in Ireland's vibrant live music scene. Indeed, with 100 bands performing in six venues over three days, you may have trouble keeping up.
The likes of Villagers, Delorentos, Jape, The Strypes, The Frames and Heathers have all previously featured, so you can expect bands of the 'ones-to-watch' variety. Weekend tickets cost €45 (or €20 for a nightly ticket) and venues include Meeting House Square, The Button Factory, The Workman's Club, The Mercantile, Twisted Pepper and The Grand Social.
Be a nosy neighbour
Ever fancied snooping around a bus depot or taking a guided tour of a dental hospital? No? Well, don't worry. Not many sane people have. Nonetheless, almost 100 buildings of all shapes, sizes and periods will be opening their doors to the public as part of Open House Dublin (October 4-6), an initiative which aims to encourage us to think about public buildings and consider the impact they have on our lives.
This year's line-up includes the Greek Orthodox Church on Arbour Hill; the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Clonskeagh; the late Victorian Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market Building in Dublin 7 and the newly constructed 14-storey 'Google Docks'.
Enjoy special guided tours led by professionals and enthusiasts – and all for free.
Go goth with Bram Stoker
He may not have any statues and bridges named after him as Joyce, Beckett and Wilde have, but Bram Stoker is arguably one of Dublin's most widely read authors. The 'Dracula' creator is set to be honoured at the Bram Stoker Festival (October 25-27), appropriately timed to coincide with the run-up to Halloween.
More than 30 spooky events are planned, including film shows, theatre performances, street animations and literary readings, so there's something for all ages. So take a walking tour through the murky streets of Victorian Dublin, get to grips with the mechanics of horror writing at a writer's workshop or join in a discussion of the vampire genre. Just be wary of what's lurking in the shadows.
For full details on these events and more, see discoverireland.ie/dublin