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     Trinity College, Dublin


Christmas is a magical season in Ireland, with families and friends reuniting, relatives arriving from overseas, students on school break and children waiting for Santa. Christmas is the time for renewing bonds that are rooted in community, religion and tradition.

In the days leading up to Christmas, Dublin, is flush with shoppers and revelers getting ready for the big day. The Christmas lights on Grafton Street in Dublin shine brightly as people dart in and out of shops, buskers play holiday melodies on traditional instruments, and nearby pubs and restaurants are aglow with holiday cheer.

Visitors to Dublin can enjoy some of the city’s treasures, such as the Book of Kells, the glorious Early Christian illuminated manuscript from the 9th century that tells the four Gospels. Located at the Library at Trinity College, the Book of Kells attracted over 800,000 visitors last year. In addition, the library holds over 20,000 rare books and artifacts, including the Brian Boru Harp and 2,000 year-old Egyptian statues.

The National Gallery of Ireland, located at Merrion Square between St. Stephen’s Green and Trinity College, holds the nation’s collection of European and Irish fine art. Its current exhibit is “Creating History: Stories of Ireland in Art” running through January 15, 2017. The exhibit offers a selection of 55 paintings from the 17th to 20th century that depict or are inspired by Irish history, from the arrival of St. Patrick to the formation of the Irish Free State.

Right next to the Gallery is the National Library of Ireland on Kildare Street. Its mission is to “collect, preserve, promote and make accessible the intellectual record of the life of Ireland.” A research library, it is an important resource for genealogy and family history, and also houses the National Photographic Archive. A current exhibit running through the end of December, 2016 is “Signatories,” which features historical materials relating to the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation.

And finally, a trip to Dublin is often topped off with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, located at St. James Gate Brewery. The tour begins at the bottom of the world’s largest pint glass and continues up through seven floors, filled with interactive experiences and a colorful history of the long brewing heritage of Guinness, which dates to the 18th century.



Looking for a unique way to ring in the New Year? Head to Dublin and join thousands of revelers for three days of concerts, light shows, cultural shows, live music, comedy, storytelling and spiritual celebration. Now in its third year, Dublin’s New Year’s Festival begins on Friday, December 30 and ends Sunday, January 1, 2017.

Here is a quick run-down:

Friday, December 30
On Friday, December 30, Dublin’s iconic Customs House is turned into a spectacular color, light and sound show that lasts right through New Year’s Day. St. Patrick’s Cathedral offers a traditional music gathering at the 12th century church in the evening, featuring Dublin piper Maitiú Ó Casaide and fiddler and singer Eithne Ní Chatháin. Liam Ó Maonlaí of the Hothouse Flowers and songwriter Peter O’Toole are joined on stage by accordion master Brendan Begley, traditional flutists Gary Hastings, and fiddler Seamus Quinn.

At the Liquor Room at Wellington Quay, check out Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, a free-wheeling night of professional artists, burlesque dancers, underground performers and outrageous contests.

Saturday, December 31
On Saturday, December 31, the action swings over to St. Stephen’s Green, with a massive Countdown Concert featuring alt rock band Walking on Cars, The Blizzards rock band, and blues and gospel man Brian Deady.

As darkness falls, check out the spectacle at the Custom House, where Luminosity presents a mesmerizing 4D performance. Then get ready for Sky Dance, featuring Limerick’s Fidget Feet. The aerial circus performance company from Ireland, presents an daring and creative dance on the side of buildings, from rooftops and in mid-air.

Sunday, January 1, 2017
On Sunday, New Year’s Day, festivities continue with a free family concert at St. Stephen’s Green with the Dublin Gospel Choir and the Garda (Police) Band. That evening, Sunday Assembly, First Forthnight, and the Mellow Tonics choir gather for an inspirational evening of music, comedy and poetry at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Throughout the three-day festival, you’ll find numerous pop up events, treasure hunts, poetry slams, walking tours, art installations, storytelling and other entertainment. |


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