City of Dublin Winter Solstice Celebration Festival
Join us for the 10th annual City of Dublin Winter Solstice Celebration Festival, a magical indoor festival and outdoor ceremony, honouring the Winter Solstice on December 20, from 4-6.30pm, marking the shortest day of the year which is celebrated worldwide across a range of cultures.
The festival begins at 4pm at TU Dublin, Grangegorman Campus and is presented by Smashing Times and Slí an Chroí, in partnership with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin).
Where: Rathdown House, TU Dublin Grangegorman Campus
When: Friday 20 December 2019, 4-6.30pm
For booking and further information, click here.
This years’ festival themes are Legends of the Great Birth and the environment. The festival features an Irish premiere of an original storytelling performance Legends of the Great Birth featuring theatre and song to animate imaginative and mythological traditions from across Europe. Enjoy a Legend of the Great Birth Theatre workshop exploring our common European mythological heritage, myths of creation and legends from the Winter Solstice. The work is presented as part of a European wide transnational project Legends of the Great Birth supported by Creative Europe, implemented in the framework of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. The seven project partners are Aeroplio Theatre, Greece (lead partner); Smashing Times, Ireland; Action Synergy, Greece; Fusion of Arts, Romania; AIDA Fondazione, Italy; Stella Polaris, Norway; and Stowarzyszenie Teatr Krzyk, Poland.
Indoor Festival 4pm-6pm – What’s On
The gathering begins. All are welcome.
Fáilte Welcome Room, 4-6pm
All activities in this space run from 4 to 6pm and are free. In this space, celebrated singer and song-writer Hilary Bow performs her own original music. Visit our face-painting station where young and old can join in and have one of our experienced and super-talented face painters work their magic. Have a traditional Celtic design or a fun animal or colourful character design. Visit our Snowflakes Corner where the Ice Queen and her fairies will demonstrate how to make snowflakes and tell wonderful stories of wonder and magic or visit the Children’s Reading and Colouring Corner. A tea, coffee and snack service is available. For full details see below.
Hilary Bow, Singer and Songwriter
Fáilte Welcome Room, 4-6pm
Celebrated singer and song-writer Hilary Bow performs her own original music. Following 18 years as a teacher in Adult Education, primarily to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and 28 years singing, performing and composing in the music industry, Hilary’s experience and strengths from both fields are merging in recent times. Having always been driven to make a difference to the plight of refugees, this year Hilary released a single, featuring Liam O’Maonlaí, in support of M.A.S.I. (Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland). U.N.E.S.C.O, Irish Refugee Council and Migrant Rights Centre have all expressed their support for this campaign to raise awareness of the inhuman Direct Provision system in Ireland. Hilary says ‘my years on the front line has given me a deep understanding of the plight and struggles of asylum seekers and refugees, and the massive importance of offering a sense of inclusion and, perhaps most of all, being heard. Music is a medium that is accessible to all regardless of language. It is through music that all life experiences can be understood.’
Artist: Hilary Bow. Suitable for all ages.
Artist: Hilary Bow. Fáilte Welcome Room, 4-6pm.
Face painting has been around for much longer than you might think! Defined as ‘the application of cosmetic paint to a person’s face’, face painting has been used for thousands of years. Young and old can join in and have one of our experienced and super-talented face painters work their magic. Have a traditional celtic design or a fun animal or colourful character design.
Facilitators: Marcia Nicolson. Suitable for all ages.
Reading and Colouring Corner
Fáilte Welcome Room, 4-6pm
An area dedicated to creativity, where children can read or participate in colouring activities. Children can colour, learn new things, and share their work with others.
Facilitator: Veronica Leaney. Suitable for all ages.
Fáilte Welcome Room, 4-6pm
Join the Ice Queen and her ice fairies where they will demonstrate how to make paper snowflakes and tell wonderful stories of wonder and magic.
Facilitators: Ice Queen and Fairies. Suitable for all ages. Tea, Coffee and Snacks service available. Please note any allergen information is highlighted before purchasing any Tea, Coffee and Snacks
Legends of the Great Birth Céili Dancing and Storytelling Performance 4-6pm
Room RD006, 4-6pm
Enjoy a spectacular Céilí featuring traditional Irish music and dancing led by the renowned Brian Boru Céilí band, and featuring a Legends of the Great Birth storytelling performance. The legendary Brian ‘Boru’ combined Irish tradition with innovation to become the most successful Irish king of his time. The Brian Boru Céili Band have taken a leaf from Brian Boru’s book, and have becomeone of the most successful Céili bandson the Céili scene in Ireland today. Young and Old are invited to take part in an energetic and engaging céili and set dancing session intermixed with storytelling inspired by the Winter Solstice and Legends of the Great Birth.Join us for a Winter Solstice fun, family-friendly Irish céili and be entertained with storytelling and song inspired by myths and legends of creation.
Artists: Brian Boru Céili Band, Geraldine McAlinden, MC and Performer, Carla Ryan, Performer and Singer, John Cantwell, storyteller and co-director of Slí an Chroí Celtic Shamanism. Suitable for all ages.
Winter Solstice Storytelling Performance 4pm and 5pm
Room RD004, 4-6pm
Enjoy the City of Dublin Winter Solstice Storytelling performance featuring Twas the Night Before Christmas, The Shamanic Santa Story, How the Fox stole Solstice, The Children of Lir and more. Come and be entertained by our wonderful actors, singers and storytellers. We are delighted to welcome back actors from the BA in Drama (Performance) at TU Dublin Conservatoire and storytelling artist Gemma McGowan. Gemma is a Kinesiologist and Shamanic Therapist from Kells, County Meath and studied theatre and music at Manchester Metropolitan. Admission free but booking essential.
Artists: Gemma McGowan, Professional Storyteller, Actors from the BA in Drama Performance, TU Dublin. Suitable for all ages. Note: Spaces are limited and available on a first-come, first served basis.
The Gathering 4-6pm
All activities in this space run from 4 to 6pm. On the shortest day of the year explore a range of stands to celebrate the environment and the natural world with stalls presented by our friends from Friends of the Earth, ECO-UNESCO and Concern Ireland. Chat with our Bee-Master Seamus Maher from the South Laois Bee Keepers Association about keeping honey bees in your own backyard and learn about the importance of bees. We are delighted to welcome back the Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland. Come along and say hello to a real Irish Wolfhound, the national dog of Ireland. The Irish Wolfhound has been recorded for centuries in mythology as well as official records and existed in Ireland from the 1st century AD at a time when the mythological Irish hero Setanta earned the name ‘Cú Chulainn’ (hound of Culann). Join our craft table where you can create your own personal ‘withy’ – a decorated twig with your blessings, prayers, wishes – and visit the Winter Solstice Myths of Creation Corner and hear Norse, Irish, Polish and other myths of creation.
Bee-Keeping Talk and Stand
Ever thought of keeping a colony of honey bees in your own backyard? Or what it takes to get started in beekeeping? Maybe you just are curious about these docile, hard-working insects that enhance our lives in so many ways. This is your chance to find out.
Join our Bee-Master in a practical guide of how to get started, where to get bees, what tools and protective clothing are needed, and what types of bee boxes are available and recommended, and much more.
Facilitator: Seamus Maher, Chairperson, South Laois Bee Keepers Association. Suitable for all ages.
Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland
We are delighted to be joined by our friends from the Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland, who will have two of their wonderful Wolfhounds with us for the duration of the festival events. The Irish Wolfhound is generally accepted to be the oldest Irish breed. It has been recorded for centuries in mythology as well as official records. The first written record of an Irish Wolfhound was in 391 AD when the breed was mentioned in Roman Council. However, they were already established in Ireland by the 1st century AD at the time when the mythological Irish hero Setanta earned the name ‘Cú Chulainn’ (hound of Culann) after killing Culann’s Irish Wolfhound in self-defence. The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest Irish breed, and indeed the tallest breed in the world. The breed’s long legs and distinctive deep chest and muscular body give it a commanding yet elegant appearance. Join us to celebrate and say hello to the Irish Wolfhound, the national dog of Ireland and learn more about these gentle, extraordinary animals from the celebrated Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland.
Facilitator: Eddie Bourke, Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland. Suitable for all ages.
Withy and Holly Stand
Join our creative craft table where you can create your own personal ‘withy’ – a decorated twig with your blessings, prayers, wishes. This creative stall is facilitated by Karen Ward, a Counselling Psychotherapist with the Rhiannon Clinic in Smithfield, Dublin. Karen is co-founder of the Slí an Chroí School of Celtic Shamanism with her husband John.
Facilitator: Karen Ward, Slí an Chroí. Suitable for all ages.
Winter Solstice Myths of Creation Corner
Enjoy our walk-about characters recalling stories on myths of creation and the Winter Solstice. From around the world hear about Norse myths of creation. From Ireland hear about the magic of Bru na Boinne, the Stone age Passage Tomb of Newgrange, and its links to the Winter Solstice and listen to songs of magic and love. Elements of the Winter Solstice tradition date back to before the Celts, as evidenced by the underground cairn in Newgrange, Co Meath, constructed in 3300BC, which is illuminated by the sun at dawn on December 21st, annually.
Artists: Walkabout Characters from Ancient Times. Suitable for all ages.
Our friends from Concern Ireland will host an informative and engaging stand with volunteers providing information about the Global Goals and how they affect all of us. They will have badges, education packs and other resources available on the day.
Facilitator: Jessie Maguire, Concern Ireland. Suitable for all ages.
Friends of the Earth
Come and learn about Friends of the Earth and the campaigns they carry out for environmental justice and sustainability. In Ireland their top priority right now is to ensure this country does its fair share to prevent runaway climate change. They promote research based solutions to environmental problems that make life better for people while protecting the planet for future generations.
Facilitator: Friends of the Earth. Suitable for all ages.
ECO-UNESCO is Ireland’s Environmental Education and Youth Organisation that works to conserve the environment and empower young people. ECO-UNESCO is affiliated to the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations (WFUCA).
Facilitator: Suitable for all ages.
Meet and Greet 4-6pm
Enjoy our walk-about characters from ancient times as they regale you with stories of the Winter Solstice and myths of creation and sing about magic and love.
Winter Solstice Workshop Programme
Winter Solstice Creative Craft Workshop for Children
Room RD005, TU Dublin Grangegorman Campus
Join our magical creative craft workshop for children. Visual artist Kim Jenkinson will host a wonderfully creative and original arts and crafts workshop where children of all ages will design and create leaf crowns and ribbon wands and get to take them home. Children will create the leaf crowns and ribbon wands using a mix of greenery and organic materials to decorate them. Children are then invited to wear their new creations as part of the outdoor event at 6pm to welcome the return of the Sun Queen. Kim has been working creatively with children for many years, including running art classes for primary school children, and children’s library workshops. Before and after the workshop, join us for festive storytelling, céili dancing, singing and more.
The workshop runs for 45 minutes and caters for children ages 2-14, children to be accompanied by parents or guardian. Staff are Garda-vetted. Requires booking and registration fee €10 per child, places limited to 10 children per workshop.
Dates and Times:
Friday 20 December 4-4.45pm.
Friday 20 December 5 to 5.45pm.
Artist and Facilitator: Kim Jenkinson, Visual Art
Please let Niamh know if your child requires extra supports. Contact Niamh on 01-8656613 or email email@example.com if you have any queries! Payment Terms & Conditions: All payments in advance, no cash payments. No refunds for any cancellations 1 week or less before start date.
Winter Solstice Legends of the Great Birth Workshop
Friday 20 December 4-5pm and 5-6pm.
North Annex Room, TU Dublin Grangegorman Campus
Dates and Times:
Join our magical creative theatre workshop hosted by theatre artist Michael Mc Cabe using fun drama-based games and exercises to explore storytelling inspired by legends of the Great Birth from across Europe. For thousands of years, people from all cultures have told stories to make sense of the world around them. These stories are called myths. Myths are made-up, they tell fictional stories about ancient people’s beliefs and the Gods they worshipped. Come and hear some interesting myths and legends and make up your own! The workshop is sixty minutes, no prior experience is necessary, for ages 18 and up. No prior experience of theatre is required. Requires booking and booking fee €10 per participant. Places limited to 15 per workshop.
Payment Terms & Conditions: All payments in advance, no cash payments. No refunds for any cancellations 1 week or less before start date.
City of Dublin Winter Solstice Outdoor Ceremony of Music, Song and Dance
At 6pm, the festival moves outside to An Chroí, the square of the TU Dublin Grangegorman campus, to watch a colourful, movement performance celebrating the arrival onto the square of the Snow Queen and Ice princesses, followed by the magnificent Sun Queen. Singer and songwriter Hilary Bow will perform a song to celebrate the Solstice.
Location: With a central location just minutes from Dublin City Centre, Rathdown House is situation at the entrance to the new TU Dublin Campus at Grangegorman and is easily accessible by foot, bike, Luas, bus and car. Bike parking and Dublin Bike Racks are available on campus. The Luas Green Line has two stops, one at Broadstone and one at Grangegorman, both of which will leave you at our doorstep. The Luas Red Line stops at Smithfield leaving you with a short ten minute walk to the campus. The Grangegorman campus is well serviced by a number of Dublin Bus routes with numerous bus stops along the nearby North Circular Road, Constitution Hill, and Prussia/Manor Street. To plan your route to the campus via Dublin Bus, see Dublin Bus Route Planner. Paid Parking is available on the main road outside the campus. For more information and a map go to
Next Day Event – Winter Solstice Celebration of Ancestral Honouring
Where: Smithfield Square
When: Saturday, 21 December, 2019, 6pm
On Saturday, 21 December, come join John Cantwell and Karen Ward of local Slí An Chroí Holistic Centre for a ‘Celtic Journey’ meditation on Smithfield Square at 6pm by the Christmas Tree. The flame of Newgrange will be lit by a child at dawn from the first rays of the rising Sun. This will be preceded by a Winter Solstice Feast at L Mulligans Grocers, Stoneybatter Village and their co-founder Seáneen Sullivan, to sample the hearty food our ancestors would have enjoyed at the time of mid-winter. The details of this exciting event will be announced on Slí an Chroí Facebook page soon, as booking will be essential.
See some photos from the festival below:
For a Facebook video of the beginning of the parade, click here.
For further information and photos contact
Smashing Times Theatre and Film Company,
Coleraine House, Coleraine Street, Dublin 7, Ireland
T: + 353 (0)1 8656613
M: + 353 (0) 87 2214245
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