THE Slane community are taking an innovative approach to their preparations for Christmas 2012 with the first ever Solstice at Slane Festival. This will take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday 20th to 22nd December. One of the better-known heritage sites in Slane parish – Newgrange – is providing the inspiration for the theme of the festival which is the world famous Winter Solstice alignment on 21st December each year.
Archaeologist and local resident Conor Brady explains "even before the traditional celebration of Christmas had begun, the Solstice is likely to have been a time of great spiritualism and celebration. On the shortest day of the year there must have been a great gathering at the mound of Newgrange to witness the sunrise on this unique day – the shortest day of the year – and look forward to the coming of a new year and the recommencement of the natural cycle."
A number of key events will be staged in and around Slane Village building on these ideas and getting everyone in the mood for the more modern celebration of Christmas. The opening event will be the inaugural Solstice at Slane Lecture which will be given by Dr Frank Prendergast (Dublin Institute of Technology), Ireland's leading authority on archaeoastronomy, at 8pm on Thursday 20th in the Conyngham Arms Hotel. Frank has carried out extensive research around Ireland on the alignments of passage tombs – the same type as Newgrange and will be providing the commentary for RTÉ's coverage of the Winter Solstice sunrise at Newgrange on the 21st.
On the Friday and Saturday there will be the Solstice at Slane Holistic and Health Fair in the Conyngham Arms Hotel where a variety of therapists, psychic readers and holistic goods and alternative health merchandise vendors will be on hand to provide their services, advice and goods to those who drop in. This will run from 10-6pm on Friday 21st and from 10am-4pm on Saturday 22nd.
Also taking place will be the Solstice at Slane Craft and Food Fair which will be jointly run by the newly formed Slane Craft Collective and the Slane Food Circle. This will run all day Friday and Saturday and will be centred on the recently opened Slane Craft Collective shop on Newgrange Mall on the Drogheda Road which offers a wide selection of local arts and crafts direct from the artisans at remarkably low prices. The Slane Food Circle is a socially-minded, community based collective of farmers, producers and growers who are working together to create a food system that can provide people with fresh, locally grown organic foods and products at the highest levels of value and quality. Now selling directly from a shop in Slane village, they also sell from stalls in local markets.
Rounding out the Solstice at Slane celebrations on the evening of Saturday 22nd in Slane Parish Hall there will be a reprise of the highly successful Sounds of Slane concert which took place earlier this year. This will feature no less than twelve acts – musicians and singers from Slane and all profits will go to Down Syndrome Ireland.
Festival organiser David Nevin said "this is a very exciting event for Slane and we will use it as an opportunity to celebrate our community's achievements, particularly the success of Slane Local Heroes, through the year. We hope that as many as possible will come along to some or all of the events we are planning for the village over the solstice." The event will be supported by a range of night time activities in the local restaurants and bars.
For further information please see https://www.facebook.com/SolsticeAtSlaneFestival2012.