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Aras and Dail open on Culture Night

THE doors of Aras an Uachtarain and Leinster House are being thrown open to the public as part of this year's National Culture Night festival.

President Michael D Higgins is opening his official residence in Phoenix Park for the fist time specifically for the event, with ticketed guided tours of the mansion that dates from 1751.

Meanwhile, an estimated 1,650 people will pass through the Houses of the Oireachtas on the night of September 19.

There is an increased focus this year on interactive and outdoor events, which were revealed yesterday by Arts Minister Heather Humphreys.

Organised by her department along with Dublin City Council and the Temple Bar Cultural Trust, this year's Culture Night will be the biggest programme since it began as a Dublin-only event in 2006.

The night has expanded to 36 towns and cities.

Ms Humphreys said: "Culture Night is a superb opportunity for Ireland to showcase the very best of its cultural offering.

"It's a fantastic chance for members of the public to enjoy unique performances and catch a glimpse inside some of our most beautiful buildings and cultural institutions."

The RTE Concert Orchestra will return for the second year in a row to Meeting House Square in Temple Bar. There will also be a special performance by children's choir Cor na nOg in St Stephen's Green.

A Hansel and Gretel Music Trail can then be followed down Grafton Street and over to the square in Temple Bar.

For Dublin culture vultures who want to see more than one venue there are Culture Night tours on foot and a bike tour.

Dublin Bus has added an additional route to its free transport programme to cater for Aran an Uachtarain and Farmleigh.