Celebrating the Winter Solstice, Legends of the Great Birth and the Environment, the 10th annual City of Dublin Winter Solstice Celebration Festival, is a magical indoor festival and outdoor ceremony marking the shortest day of the year which is celebrated worldwide across a range of cultures.
The celebration of the winter solstice has its roots in many cultures worldwide, particularly the Celtic traditions, where druids – wise women and men – would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and offer it as a blessing each year. According to an old Celtic myth, on the solstices of each year the Oak Queen, representing the light, and the Holly Queen, representing the dark, would fight, with the Oak Queen emerging victorious at the winter solstice, enabling the return of the light.
This family-friendly and inclusive festival is a colourful gathering of local communities with national and international visitors and people of all ethnicities and cultures. The event marks the turn of the seasons as attendees gather together and celebrate the return of the light, as the days begin to lengthen once more.
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.
The festival begins at 4pm on Friday December 20 at TU Dublin, Grangegorman Campus and is presented by Smashing Times and Slí an Chroí, in partnership with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin).
The programme is as follows:
Indoor Festival 4pm-6pm
Fáilte Welcome Room 4-6pm
In this space, celebrated singer and song-writer Hilary Bow performs her own original music. Visit the 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 Snowflake’s 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.
Legends of the Great Birth Céilí Dancing and Storytelling Performance, 4-6pm
Enjoy a spectacular Céilí featuring traditional Irish music and dancing led by the renowned Brian Boru Céilí band, featuring a Legends of the Great Birth storytelling performance. Young and old are invited to enjoy an energetic and engaging family-friendly, fun céilí and set dancing session intermixed with storytelling and song inspired by the Winter Solstice and myths of creation.
Winter Solstice Storytelling Performance
Two shows: 4pm and 5pm
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 wonderful actors, singers and storytellers, including storytelling artist Gemma McGowan.
The Gathering Space 4-6pm
On the shortest day of the year explore a range of stands to celebrate the environment and the natural world with stalls presented by Friends of the Earth, ECO-UNESCO and Concern Ireland. Chat with 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. The Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland will also be there so 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 the 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.
Meet and Greet 4-6pm
Enjoy the craic with 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. Please make vendors aware of any known allergens.
Winter Solstice Workshop Programme
Winter Solstice Creative Craft Workshop for Children
Workshops: 4-4.45pm; 5-5.45pm
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 using a mix of greenery and organic materials to decorate the crowns and ribbon wands. 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. 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.
Booking and registration fee €10 per child, places limited to 10 children per workshop.
Legends of the Great Birth Theatre Workshop
Workshops: 4-5pm and 5-6pm
Join a 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.
Booking fee €10 per participant. Places limited to 15 per workshop.
Outdoor Festival – 6pm, An Chroí, TU Dublin Grangegorman Campus
At 6pm, festival moves outside to An Chroí, the square of the TU Dublin Grangegorman campus, to watch a colourful, choreographed movement performance celebrating the arrival onto the square of the Snow Queen and Ice princesses, followed by the magnificent Sun Goddess. Singer and songwriter Hilary Bow will perform a song to celebrate the Solstice. Smithfield’s Slí an Chroí Holistic Centre then offer a heart-warming, soul-stirring Celtic ceremony celebration to round off this indigenous festival.
City of Dublin Winter Solstice Celebration Festival celebrating the Winter Solstice, Legends of the Great Birth and the Environment
Rathdown House, TU Dublin, Grangegorman Campus, Friday, 20 December, 2019, 4-6.30pm
For booking and further information, click here.
Booking and Fees
Entry to festival events is free apart from the Winter Solstice Creative Craft Workshop for Children and the Legends of the Great Birth Theatre workshop, where a booking and admission fee are required. Workshops must be booked in advance via Eventbrite. For booking and further information click here.
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. Street Parking is available on Rathdown Road outside the DIT Grangegorman Campus.
For more information see www.smashingtimes.ie