Gig of the Week: Lose yourself inside Van Gogh’s masterpieces

Culture guide: Dublin Literature Festival, Kate Bush tribute and much more

Gig of the Week: Van Gogh Dublin – An Immersive Journey

May 16th-August 4th, RDS, Dublin, €28.14/€25.94/€17.19,

Imagine waking up and finding yourself inside a Van Gogh painting. It sounds like a mad premise for a new Netflix series. But this is no fiction – Van Gogh Dublin is a truly immersive experience that brings you inside the works of the master, using light, sound, large-scale projections and AI to send you down a colourful, mind-blowing rabbit-hole. “You get to walk through the fascinating and tragic life of Van Gogh, through his carefully curated artworks, chosen to fully absorb you in a multisensory experience,” says Jillian Wilson, director of this groundbreaking new project. The spectacle takes place in a 20,000sq ft space in the Shelbourne Hall, so visitors can socially distance while exploring the world of Van Gogh.

Future Limerick – Climate Arts Festival

May 16th-21st, Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick,

Art and sustainability are the focus in Ireland’s inaugural Climate Arts Festival, presented by Sunday’s Child Theatre in association with Lime Tree Theatre. Sunday’s Child is run by Eva O’Connor and Hildegard Ryan, who are co-directing the festival. “As the climate crisis escalates it’s easy to get bogged down in feelings of hopelessness,” says Ryan. “Our festival will be engaging and entertaining way to imagine a brighter future and engage on the climate issues that matter most to the Limerick community.” Among the highlights in this week-long environmental extravaganza are acclaimed play Afloat, written by O’Connor and Ryan; Brokentalkers’ Rising, in a perambulatory performance along the River Shannon; and environmentally friendly jazz/soul/hip-hop/R&B from supergroup The X Collective.

Baby Bushka

May 17th and 18th, Sugar Club, Dublin, 7.30pm, €22.50,

There’s pretty much no one like Kate Bush: an enigmatic artist with a bewitching voice, a singular vision and songs to soundtrack your weirdest dreams. But this eight-woman ensemble from San Diego, California, hope to come close to the great woman’s work with exhilarating interpretations of Bush’s best songs, including Running Up That Hill, Suspended in Gaffa, Cloudbusting, Wow and Wuthering Heights. These superfans will combine ethereal harmonies with choreography and lots of wit to bring you “the Kate Bush experience of your dreams”. Believe me, you won’t want to wake up.

David Gray

May 17th, SSE Arena, Belfast
May 19th, 3Arena, Dublin,

In 1998, after making three albums that failed to set the world on fire, David Gray made one last throw of the device with the release of White Ladder. The record became a slow-burning success, eventually topping the charts in 2001 and spawning a rake of hit singles. Irish fans in particular embraced the album, making it Ireland’s biggest-selling album of all time. Gray’s planned 20th anniversary celebration of White Ladder had to be put on the back burner due to Covid, but finally he’s getting to perform the album in full in front of a live audience, and we’ll be there to share in the wonderful collective memory of Sail Away, Babylon, Please Forgive Me, This Year’s Love and Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. “What happened with White Ladder involved more than music,” says Gray. “It was a sort of heart-and-soul moment of total surrender for everybody involved, for me and the audience. That was it. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

The Divine Comedy

This year Neil Hannon celebrated a storied career with the release of Charmed Life: The Best of the Divine Comedy, a 24-track collection that touches on the man’s finest musical moments. Now Hannon’s hitting the road with a new tour to celebrate 30 years of creating pop music of the finest vintage. “I’ve been luckier than most,” says the man behind such hits as Something for the Weekend, Generation Sex and The National Express. “I get to sing songs to people for a living and they almost always applaud. So when asked what to call this collection I thought of Charmed Life. I like the song and it rather sums up how I feel about my life.”

Dublin Dance Festival

May 17th-29th, various venues, Dublin,

When the world is off-balance, dance can help to restore equilibrium, and this year’s Dublin Dance Festival is a physical and timely response to global upheaval and attacks on liberty and bodily autonomy. The streets and stages of the capital will burst into life as dance visionaries from Africa, Brazil, Europe and Japan, under the artistic direction of Jazmin Chiodi, encourage us to keep hoping and dreaming – and challenging. Brazilian choreographer Lia Rodrigues will present her latest creation, Encantado, at the Abbey Theatre; punk-flamenco star Rocío Molina will perform Fallen from Heaven, her celebration of womanhood, at the Abbey; Amala Dianor will direct the world premiere of Siguifin, featuring dancers from Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso, at the Project Arts Centre; and Italian choreographer Silvia Gribaudi will celebrate human imperfection in Graces, also at the Project.

West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival

May 18th-22nd, Russborough House & St Mary's Church, Blessington, Co Wicklow,

Every year, some of the world’s best and most exciting musicians head to the idyllic settings of Russborough House and Blessington to create some sonic magic, and this year’s West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival kicks off with a performance by two ridiculously talented musicians, flautist Adam Walker and pianist Fiachra Garvey, who will perform a new work by Gerald Barry celebrating the 80 years since the Blessington lakes were created by the construction of the Poulaphouca dam (May 18th, Russborough, 8pm €38/€19). The dynamic Trio Gaspard will dazzle with their enthusiasm and virtuosity (May 19th, Russborough, 8pm, €38/€19), and the Eblana String Trio will uncover some neglected gems and restore them to their rightful glory (May 21st, Russborough, 8pm, €38/€19). There’s also lots for families to enjoy, including a special family concert of Mozart’s The Magic Flute with music by Táin Trio and soprano Catherine Redding, and narration by Nicholas Grennell (May 22nd, Russborough, 10am/11am/12am, €5).

International Literature Festival Dublin

May 19th-29th, Merrion Square Park, Dublin,

The book lovers’ beano is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a packed programme of events fizzling with ideas and insights, all taking place in the peaceful surroundings of Merrion Square Park. Over 10 days in this city centre oasis, you’ll encounter some of the finest Irish and international authors, including Booker-Prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo, Cecelia Ahern, Louise O’Neill, Rónán Hession, Lana Bastašic & Priscilla Morris, Abdulrazak Gurnah and Shane Hegarty. Also in store is an evening of spoken word entitled A Midsummer Night’s Dream, foodie fun with the GastroGays, an Oscar Wilde House Tour and Story Machine’s celebration of another 25-year anniversary: Harry Potter.