Sunday, September 4, 2011

September - the highlights

And so it begins. September and October are by far the most crowded months of the year for cultural events in Dublin, so much so that the tourism authorities are referring to the two months as the Dublin Festival Season. They're right; if anything this year has even more to offer than previous years.

The first major event is Dublin Contemporary, "Ireland's International Art Exhibition". It previews on Monday 5th September and opens on 6th September. The main venue is Earlsfort Terrace but the exhibition will extend to other venues in the city as well. A one-day adult ticket costs €15.

On 8th September the Gallery of Photography officially launches its latest exhitibion, Making Space, an "exploration of the expansion and development of Islam in contemporary Ireland". Also on 8th September the Dublin Fashion Festival begins, as does the wonderful Sculpture in Context in the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. I was very impressed by Sculpture in Context last year - on a nice day the Botanic Gardens are very enjoyable in their own right, and the art works only add to that.

Then on Saturday 10th September the marathon of theatre starts with ABSOLUT Fringe. I recently met with a few of the theatre companies who'll be taking part, so we'll be writing a lot more about the festival in the coming days. I'd strongly recommend getting tickets for the opening performance by Macnas in the National Musuem of Ireland (Collins Barracks) - last year's performance was exceptional.

September 22nd is Authur's Day. I'm moderately cynical about Arthur's Day - do we really need a second, more blatantly commercialised St Patrick's Day, with a deliberate focus on drinking stout? On the other hand, lots of people enjoy it and I have to admit to being impressed by the sheer chutzpah of the Guinness PR team for creating a new national holiday to celebrate their drink.

Fortunately there's an alternative if you're looking for a different beer experience: Thursday 22nd is also the start of this year's Oktoberfest in the Docklands. This is a very fun event, although its popularity means that the queues can be quite long at peak times.

Friday 23th is the perhaps the highlight of the entire year: Culture Night. Arts and cultural venues throughout the city will be open late and will have a huge range of special events on offer. (Oh, and if you want to save yourself the €15 on Dublin Contemporary, try getting one of the free tickets for Culture Night... but book early as these won't last long.) Culture Night is more than the sum of its parts though: all around the city centre, and in Temple Bar in particular, there's an incredible atmosphere. If you only go to one cultural event all year, make it Culture Night.

The month ends on a high: the start of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival on 29th September.

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