Free Pickings for Culture Vultures


On the evening of Friday September 20th, hundreds of Ireland’s cultural institutions will once again open their doors to the public, free of charge, for yet another Culture Night.

First established in 2006 by the Temple Bar Cultural Trust, the annual event has grown increasingly in the intervening seven years and TBCT expects this year to be the most successful yet. Culture Night co-ordinator Aimee Van Wylick tells NewsFour the original focus may have been on Dublin but now it’s expanded to encompass the entire country, across the border and even across the water. “Last year there were events held to promote Irish culture in London and Louven, Belgium,” Van Wylick says, “We’re starting to see Culture Night spread to the Irish diaspora, which is great.”

Last year was Culture Night’s biggest to date, with more than 900 venues across 34 locations, attracting over 160,000 visitors. Van Wylick notes how it’s increasingly become a family event in recent years. “It’s not just for grown-ups,” she says, “kids love it as it’s the one night of the year they get to stay out late.”
For some, the term “culture” can be intimidating but Van Wylick says Culture Night is precisely about making institutions accessible to those who wouldn’t normally visit them. “It’s all inclusive and geared towards all audiences,” she says, “it’s a real boost for cultural organisations as it attracts people who maybe wouldn’t
have visited those places or wouldn’t have had access for varying reasons.”

On the continent, Museum Nights, where museums and galleries stay open late are common, and this was the inspiration for Culture Night. It’s not just larger institutions such as the National Museum or National Gallery which are involved, however. “To qualify, you just need to be an institution with a link to Ireland’s culture or heritage,” Van Wylick says, “but you must program something unique to the night, be it a tour or a special talk to provide cultural insight. We’ve even had individuals opening their homes and providing art work-shops.”
With many people under financial strain, Culture Night provides a great opportunity to indulge freely in the best the city has to offer culturally. “People tend to flow from one venue to the other taking in as much as possible, that’s a special part of it,” Van Wylick says, “it’s a different way for audiences to experience arts and culture, a more accessible way.”

The Temple Bar Cultural Trust will release a full programme in mid-August. For more details, visit

By Eric Hillis