The ‘in-person’ fun drought has finally come to an end. Ciara O’Loughlin runs through tonight’s events countrywide
More than 1,000 events will be taking place across the country this evening as local communities get ready to celebrate Culture Night.
From the arts, to theatre to lectures and treasure hunts, the entertainment-starved masses are preparing to once again explore the diversity of Irish culture.
Most of the events scheduled this year are to be held in-person “marking a major turning point in our road to recovery”, Arts Minister Catherine Martin said.
Some 80pc of events will be in person and with many late -night openings around the country, but there will also be some online events included in the programme.
Due to current restrictions however, some events will be different from the pre-pandemic programme in 2019 and before.
For example, a number will require a pre-booking as only a certain amount of people are permitted into the premises.
People will also have to provide their Covid-19 vaccine cert for certain activities, such as those that take place indoors in restaurants and cafés.
Masks will also be obligatory for the majority of events while some that are limited in capacity are already fully booked.
Despite coronavirus restrictions however, the essence of Culture Night will remain the same, organisers are hoping.
The aim of the night is to try to capture the culture of Ireland today, with events ranging from architecture to comedy, circus to dance, film to literature, museums to music, heritage to sport and science to fashion.
Since its inception in 2006, Dublin City Council said it had played a central role in bringing Culture Night to life.
Organisers also announced a new outdoor city-centre sculpture trail featuring 12 life-sized works from one of Ireland’s top artists, Patrick O’Reilly.
The trail, which has been installed in six locations, opens this evening and continues for two weeks.
The trail will begin in Gormleys Fine Art gallery, 27 South Frederick Street, and continue to Merrion Square Park, the Merrion Hotel, St Stephen’s Green, Grafton Street and Capel Street.
The initiative is part of a wider programme led by the Office of City Recovery.
Meanwhile, new additions to the Culture Night programme this year include The Butler Gallery in Kilkenny, which this evening will hold a world music evening with a collection of music and dance from around the globe. This will take place from 6pm-9pm.
Another new addition is a workshop in Wood Quay, Dublin featuring James Collins and Tom McDonnell, two of the last remaining Traveller Tinsmiths in Ireland.
They will give a traditional Traveller tinsmithing demonstration, while Traveller women Molly Collins and Sheila Reilly will also be on site to share memories about the traditional Traveller life.
These demonstrations will take place between 5 and 7.30pm.
In Limerick, the Foróige Satellite Studios art trail will be available as a self-guided tour at any time today, with no booking required.
Based mostly around The Square in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, these artists, aged between 10 and 18, aim to bring joy to people with themes of identity, individuality, interests and diversity through this exhibition.
From 4pm, in Fitzgerald’s Park in Cork, an evening of various performances is planned, including circus acts, music, art and puppetry.
Director of Cork Puppetry Company, Elisa Gallo Rosso said the group is excited to participate in the event and hopes to include some of the crowd in their performance.
“We are interested in creating episodes of absurdity, and finding special worlds in the normality of daily life, so we invite the people of Cork City to have fun with us and maybe even become the unexpected protagonist!” Elisa said.
Rebel Brass Band will also be performing in the park for Culture Night.
Band member Amy O’Callaghan said she was extremely excited as it was the first time they had performed together since before the lockdown.
“We started rehearsing again in August and even in the city itself, it’s been picking up with people starting to play live music around the streets again,” she said.
“People can expect the usual high-energy performance from us, there’ll be about 10 of us in attendance on the night.
“We just want people to be able to listen to some live music and safely enjoy themselves.”
A number of museums will also have late openings until 11pm or 11.30pm as part of the celebration.
In Dublin this includes Epic museum, The Book of Kells, The Gallery of Photography, and the Museum of Literature in Ireland.
Elsewhere in the country, Visual in Carlow will open late along with the West Cork Arts Centre in Skibberreen, the Galway Arts Centre, the Hunt Museum in Limerick and Iontas Theatre & Arts Centre in Monaghan.
Meanwhile, for those who would prefer to enjoy Culture Night virtually, 20pc of all events are tailored for online streaming.
The Abbey Theatre will be hosting a special audio version of Dermot Bolger’s play Last Orders at the Dockside.
Those who are interested can check www.culturenight.ie where the live-streaming link will be shared.
People hoping to attend events around the country are being encouraged to check the website which gives information on whether booking is required, and whether some events are already booked out.
Launching the programme on Monday, Arts Minister Catherine Martin said Culture Night “has become a significant date in the country’s cultural calendar in the last few years”.
“This year it takes on even greater significance. As we emerge from the pandemic, it gives us a much-needed opportunity to celebrate as a nation our rich and diverse culture and arts sector.
“I would like to commend the Arts Council, local authorities and arts groups throughout the country who have, despite continued challenging circumstances, provided a wide-ranging and extensive programme of events for us all to enjoy online and in-person,” she added.
Maureen Kennelly, director of the Arts Council, said: “We are so excited that Culture Night is indeed about Coming Together Again with 80pc of events for Friday being in person and with many late-night openings around the country. I wish to extend our deepest appreciation to everybody who has worked hard to make Culture Night part of a safe return to arts and culture.”