We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Lord Mayor Alison Gilliland and dancers at today's launch.
arts on the streets

'It's about reconnection': Culture Night gears up for safe but vibrant event

Culture Night takes place on 17 September this year.

AFTER ALMOST 18 months without live events, the annual festival Culture Night will bring some sense of normality to streets across the country.

This year’s festival launched last week, and today the Dublin Culture Night event held its own launch. The theme of Culture Night in the capital is Dublin Holds My Mind, and its ambassador this year is Ola Majekodunmi. 

Culture Night will return on Friday, 17 September with over 200 participating venues, and more than 250 in-person and online events across Dublin city and county, and all events are free to attend nationally.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland and the Culture Night Dublin Ambassador, broadcaster Ola Majekodunmi, spoke to The Journal about what we can expect from what is set to be a unique 2021 event.

‘We’re such a multicultural city’

Poet and broadcaster Majekodunmi said that when she was offered the role of ambassador, she wanted to highlight “the Irish language and the multiculturalism of Dublin especially, because people don’t think about it a lot but we’re such a multicultural city”.

The festival will include free Irish language classes, as Majekodunmi said she believed “people really want to learn Irish”, and she wanted to give them a chance on Culture Night. 

Usually people are used to crowds milling around the cities and towns of the country on Culture Night, but this year things will be slightly more constrained, explained the Lord Mayor: 

“All the buildings or the events that are open will have a reduced number of people and they will be in line with COVID regulations, [people] will have to book, they will have to leave their name and their number, and vaccine certificates, all of that,” said Gilliland.

“So we will be more controlled, it won’t be as spontaneous. But still, it allows the public the opportunity to feel that we are transitioning out of COVID into a new norm that allows us to connect again with culture.”

Added Majekodunmi: “We really want people to obviously be safe as well. But I just feel like they can reconnect, because I’m hoping that by that time, a lot of people will be vaccinated as well. So maybe people will be a bit safer. Because the theme this year, it’s about reconnection in venues, and a lot of these venues that are going to be hosting were closed during COVID. So this is really a time for people to get back in the city and just enjoy life again.”

The event also comes at a significant time for people in the arts, with crowd constraints meaning that most major events can’t take place. A call for a strong roadmap from government has been coming from those within the sector.

“People in the arts definitely feel neglected during this time. Culture Night really is [a great] time for us the arts,” said Majekodunmi about the importance of this year’s event. “And I hope going forward that people in society across Ireland realise that it’s such an important part of our culture, and it’s what keeps us going. It’s great to experience as well.”

Lord Mayor Gilliland said that it is “absolutely fantastic to have people back doing live events on the streets or in our buildings, to have our buildings open to the public”.

Obviously, it’s going to be in reduced numbers, it’s going to be very much controlled, social distancing, all of that. But after 18 months, to be able to have a physical Culture Night is fantastic. It’s always been a great success in the city.

At the launch of the national Culture Night event, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD said: “Every year this wonderful evening of festivities gets bigger and brighter and organisers have met the challenges posed by public health restrictions head on by developing an innovative and accessible programme.

“It is a true celebration of culture in all its forms and I was delighted this year to provide some extra support so that there will be some later night events taking place around the country as part of the work of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce. I welcome this inclusion and hope to see more of this in the future.”

Maureen Kennelly, Arts Council Director, described Culture Night as “an important shared moment in our cultural calendars”. She said that in its stewardship role, the Arts Council is delighted to bring together its 16th edition of the event. 

“To come together again, in our communities and in our cultural organisations, to celebrate all that makes up the richness and diversity of culture in Ireland today, is an important shared collective experience and especially so at this time,” said Kennelly.

As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, this one joyful night is a celebration, a discovery and a reminder of cultural and creative experiences that continue to be available to us year round.

RTÉ once again partners with Culture Night to bring specially commissioned performances and themed programming and reports across the evening, including on Nationwide and The Late Late Show.

The full programme of events for Culture Night Dublin 2021 is now live on the Culture Night Dublin website. The Culture Night Dublin transport partner Dublin Bus will be providing free buses every 20 minutes along three new bus routes. Starting on College Green, Aston Quay and Bachelor’s Walk, the free shuttle services will bring visitors to and from their favourite cultural quarters.

The national Culture Night website can be found here, with lists of all events taking place nationwide on 17 September.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel