Make it a night to remember

Thu, Sep 20, 2012, 01:00

CULTURE NIGHT is nearly upon us, and at first glance the programme can seem daunting and exhausting. But never fear – with our 10-step Culture Night survival guide, you are sure to get the best out of what is one of the most unique, enjoyable (and free) evenings across the country with zero stress, minimal queuing and hopefully without missing out on things you really want to see. Here’s what you need to do:


Like any good operation, the first step is planning. Because the programme is so vast, involving venues in Dublin city centre, along with 10 venues outside the city centre, and 34 other cities, towns and villages around the country, you are going to need to do a certain amount of planning to make sure you are not wandering around aimlessly. Download the free Culture Night app if you have a smartphone, or the programme PDFs, handily broken up by area on the website (see Printed Culture Night programmes are also available from several of the venues. Have a thorough look at what’s going on, and draw up a shortlist.


Friday evening presents an excellent opportunity to binge on culture, but you don’t want to overdo it or else you won’t enjoy the experience. If you try to see everything, you’ll probably end up getting to check out very little. The most practical approach is to take one area and schedule things you want to see within that area. Dublin has been broken into six areas by the Culture Night crew, so if you’re based in the capital, pick one area and do it well. The rest of the country is broken into 34 individual regions, so wherever you are, there will be something not too far away waiting for you. Just make sure your plans are logistically smart. In the capital, Dublin Bus will be running free bus routes across the city if you feel like spreading out.


Some of Ireland’s best-known attractions open their doors on Friday night, which is a brilliant opportunity to check them out afterhours and for free. But venues such as Dublin Castle, the Jameson Distillery, the National Gallery and so on – as fascinating as they are – are open year round. So instead, use Culture Night to explore smaller, lesser-known venues. Keeping to the smaller sites also means there’s less likelihood you’ll get stuck in queues. Trinity College Dublin alone took in more than 4,000 visitors last Culture Night. Our hidden gems guide below should get you started, but chances are if you see the name of a venue near where you live that you’ve never even heard of, now is your chance to find out what lies inside.


For sure, the evening is a way to soak up things you’re interested in, be they visual art in galleries, a favourite school of architecture, or even politics by wandering through the chambers of Leinster House, but it also provides a greater opportunity to look at things you might not ordinarily broach. Find somewhere that doesn’t automatically appeal to you, and give it a go.


If you’re not terribly interested in keeping quiet while walking around buildings and straining your neck to see chandeliers, then Culture Night also offers another strand of culture: music. There are loads of musical performances to check out across the country and we’ve listed some highlights below.


Dozens of venues are hosting workshops to ensure Culture Night isn’t just a spectator sport. Maybe you’re up for a bit of retro arcade gaming at Back To The Future in the IDA Business Park in Galway, or some dancing in Newbridge, or perhaps you’re more into drop-in meditation at the Dublin Buddhist Centre? Alternatively, why not measure your hand-eye coordination skills at the Circus Factory in Cork?

Perhaps you’d be into some silly putty workshops at the Science Gallery in Dublin, or fancy a crack at treading the boards in a stage workshop at the Gaiety School of Acting? There is something for everyone.


The Culture Night programme can be quite overwhelming. Luckily, apart from our tips listed below, there are plenty of places where you can filter certain things you might want to see that you have previously overlooked.

Take recommendations from the street. Culture Night is a remarkably social evening, and you’re bound to bump into fellow attendees wherever you go on whatever trail you’re on. So ask them what they enjoyed, what’s unique, what’s special, and make a note of it, instead of searching blindly.


Culture Night doesn’t just happen inside. Around Dublin especially, there will be outdoor performances and projections. It’s also a good time to take in some of the new street art that has popped up throughout the city over the past while, particularly in the Windmill Lane/Grand Canal Dock area and behind Camden Street.


You know that cranky feeling that surfaces after shopping for a few hours? Or the dehydration that sets in when you’ve been walking around a gallery for what feels like forever? That will happen on Culture Night if you’re dedicating your entire evening to traversing your city, town or village, so leave aside an hour before, during or towards the end to chill out, digest and refuel.


Culture Night has been blessed with good weather, but it’s still an evening activity. Chuck a hoodie and a rain jacket in your bag so you don’t get caught out between visits or while queuing for more crowded venues. And I know I sound like your mother, but wear sensible shoes.

Hidden Gems ...

Masonic Hall 27, Tuckey Street, Cork

The flag-draped hall, home of Cork’s freemasonry since 1845, will open for tours.

Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 63, Merrion Square, Dublin A beautiful and fascinating building with gorgeous plasterwork and a lovely walled garden (see if you can spot the grave of a beloved pet).

Sarah Walker Gallery, the Pier, Castletownbere, Cork

This gallery on the water in a stone warehouse will host a gig from Maria Doyle Kennedy.

United Arts Club, 3 Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin

Founded in 1907, the United Arts Club is a fun, higgledy piggeldy building with an eclectic artistic history and a bar in the basement.

Ballinskelligs Abbey, Ballinskelligs, Kerry

The 12th Century abbey will host an exhibition by Donagh Carey and nearby in the old coastguard terrace, Dutch artist Carlo Kroon will host a neon exhibition and at sea, a 100m line will bear 100 glass spheres in a project titled A Letter To America.

Children and family ...

Play Youth Theatre drop in workshop at Nenagh Library, Tipperary

An opportunity for teenagers to check out a free acting workshop. 3.30 – 5pm

Big City Block Printing at Limerick City Printmakers Studio

Family-friendly wood block and Styrofoam printing right on to the gallery walls. 6 – 10pm

The Ark, Temple Bar

From 6pm until 8.30pm, the Ark will be chockablock with theatre performances, art workshops and music.

Bat Walk in Donadea Forest

This evening (8pm) walk in Donadea in Kildare is organised by the enthusiastic folk from the Kildare Bat Group.

Films at The Model, Sligo

The Model is hosting screenings of The Gruffalo and Toy Story, encouraging children in attendance to dress up as their favourite character.

Musical events ...

Mahaffy House, North Great George’s St, Dublin

John Kelly, Julie Feeney, Caoimhinn O’Raghallaigh crowd into Mahaffy House for an 8pm concert and interviews.

National Concert Hall, Dublin

RTE Symphony Orchestra

At 8pm, after a 7pm recital from Cór na nÓg, the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra will take to the stage with 100 limited tickets up for grabs.

The Merrion Hotel, Dublin

The Opera Theatre Company is taking over the Cellar Bar in the Merrion between 5.30pm and 7pm for three 20-minute performances.

The Lab, Foley St, Dublin

If you fancy a bit of a bop, Nanu Nanu, The Flaws and Adultrock kick off at 8pm.

Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny

Young-Choon Park gives a lunchtime recital of her expert piano-playing.

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.