There's nothing like a helping of free culture to draw a crowd and Dublin's Culture Night was no exception, this year's festivities saw thousands take to the city in a frenzy reminiscent of a game of Screwball Scramble. The capital was divided in to six areas of exploration: Heuston/ Museum Quarter, Historic Quarter, Temple Bar & North of the Liffey, North Georgian Quarter, Trinity College/ Docklands and finally, the South Georgian Quarter. All of these areas were absolutely brimming with attractions and entertainment for all ages and with only six or so hours to take in all the cultural goodness, it was quite the task to schedule, never mind prioritize.
With a chisler temporarily in my custody, a kid-friendly excursion was in order, so a hop and a skip over to the National Wax Museum saw us join the extensive queue of everyone else with the same wattage of our light bulb moment. Now this, one could be forgiven for thinking, was the new revamped, 21st century Wax Museum - and it is, just with what could be taken for the previous century's waxworks. And as for the children's 'Enchanted World'? A badly lit, ill-constructed tunnel does not a kids' area make...
|*Note: this attraction was not from the 'Enchanted World' but would've added something amusing to it at least*|
But rather than feeling shortchanged by the odd facial expressions and misplaced wigs, the free entry (and only that) made the bizarre exhibits curiously entertaining, although one Spanish tourist did admit - "Ok, this is too Irish for me" on encountering the 1798 Rebellion exhibit and Wolfe Tone's nose. It can safely be said that many of Ireland's finest weren't looking their best that evening.
Temple Bar was a-buzz with old style variety acts, performers and buskers, making it a feast of sight and sound to venture through. Turning a corner to find a jubilant couple of hundred people singing 'Walking On Sunshine' with two buoyant and surprised buskers was a treat, as well as the electric-trad band who garnered an instant and impressed audience further on up the alley. Up at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, a jazz/ funk outfit were tented outside on the grounds, and as the evening grew more autumnal they provided a lively atmosphere whether visitors stopped to listen, took shelter at the make-shift bar or walked through the artists' workshops that were open for viewings.
The evening's vast array of activities meant, by way of a back handed insult considering that the organization and diversity on offer cannot be faulted, that relatively little was actually seen, with all the queuing and indecision in my case anyway. But maybe there were better equipped culture vultures out there than yours truly. Having missed 2008's first Culture Night, and last year's outing, I was delighted to be immersed in the hubbub of the city that evening, and although we can and should go make these excursions in the other eleven months available, there's something to be said for Dublin's vibe on that evening when all involved are trying to beat the clock. Here's hoping for a Culture Weekend next year.