Apparently the number one reason that stops people getting cultural is time. This is the rationale behind Culture Night, which encourages museums, galleries and theatres to keep their doors open after hours and allow culture-philes an opportunity to experience art on a more intimate level. The initiative celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and what started off as a small Dublin event has reached nationwide, with thousands of events scheduled across the country on September 16th.
There are so many free events on offer it can be difficult to whittle down the options into a manageable itinerary. If your kids are under 10, you also need to be realistic about how much culture they will be able to consume before bedtime. Firstly, make sure that if you plan on taking in a few events that they are in close proximity. The Smithfield Square Spectacular, for example, would make a good base, with a variety of workshops and performances to take in. Secondly, make sure to check whether the event is open or whether you need to book ahead: nothing is worse than disappointment. Lastly, I would advise taking a mercenary approach. Most museums and galleries in Ireland are free, but there are a number of excellent ones where you have to pay per entrant, making family trips quite expensive. With that in mind, here are my top tips for Culture Night in Dublin.
One of our favourite haunts, Dublinia has a host of living history events planned for Culture Night to enrich the experience of Viking life and Medieval Dublin.
A museum dedicated to life in Georgian Dublin, the servants quarters and nursery in particular are a treat for young visitors. There will be a string quartet to enhance the rarefied atmosphere on Culture Night. Not for the rowdy. It is also a stones through from the cultural hub of Merrion Square where there will be tons of events in the park, the Dead Zoo and the National Gallery.
Song of the Sea at The Lighthouse
A free screening of one of our favourite family films. A beautiful heartwarming take on an old Irish legend, suitable for all ages.
I have mixed feelings about Ireland’s only dedicated museum for children, but if you don’t want to go into the city for the night it is a good option, with lots of workshops and performances as well as the usual option to play. It will be mobbed with toddlers so arrive early.
National Wax Museum
Life-size dolls of your favourite figures from pop-culture: what’s not to love about this tacky art-form? Expert doll-makers will be on hand to talk about how the figures are made.
Bram Stoker’s Castle Dracula
An interactive theatrical tour that dramatises the life and most famous work of Bram Stoker, the Irishman who wrote Dracula. A perfect opportunity to get teenagers out of their bedrooms and excited about books. (14+ only)
My boys are still a bit young to enjoy the late-night activities, so we will be staying local: enjoying a selection of short films at the Pavilion Theatre, a workshop or two at the Lexicon, and a stroll down to Joyce’s Tower for some impromptu performances. Then I’ll be sending them home with their dad, so I can head into the city for some grown-up cultural fun.