Venue: Smithfield Quarter, Dublin 7.
Dublin's only community festival of Winter Solstice in the heart of the city, takes place annually in the Smithfield quarter. Two hours of traditional festivities, indoors and outdoors, are part of this unique seasonal gathering. This is a treasured time for families and for those who wish to enjoy a connection to nature and the mid-Winter season, in the days before Christmas. Winter Solstice marks the darkest day of the year followed by the day when the sun begins to return, little by little. The Winter Solstice Celebration brings together traditional storytelling, poetry, music and dance.together with (non-religious) community ceremony that provides everyone present with enjoyment and participation in a timeless, festival of nature. The Winter Solstice fire is lit by the children, guided by the brilliantly costumed Snow Queen and Sun Goddess. The fire is then carried into the night by a team of men shoulder high at the head of a great parade of flags and drums around the great Smithfield Square. When the fire is placed in the centre of the square, all present go to the fire to place a "withy", a twig holding your wishes for Christmas and the New Year ahead. The fire burning brightly is lifted high to the world amid great cheering and drumming.
The first hour of the Winter Solstice Celebration (6.30-7.30PM) will take place in Christophe's Cafe, opposite the Jameson Whiskey Distillery Museum, ("under the great red brick chimney on Smithfield Square"). There are 2 Dublin Bike stations on the square and the Smithfield LUAS stop is at the south end of the square. There is some on-street parking available and there is an underground car park on Queen St. In Christophe's, he will be serving delicious hot chocolate, teas and coffees as well as his famous cakes and buns. There will be storytelling and poetry for all ages, especially chosen from the history and folklore of native Irish Winter Solstice tradition. You can have your photograph taken with the wildly costumed seasonal characters and prepare your "withy" for the upcoming fire ceremony and parade. There will be local artisans offering to sell their handcrafts, possibly perfect for a Christmas gift for someone you love. You can also learn to make traditional ivy and holly wreathes to wear for the parade.
At 7.30PM we move outdoors onto Smithfield Square for the lighting of the fire and the beginning of the parade and community ceremony. You might like to come forward as one of the flag bearers or drummers. This will be a unique opportunity to be part of Irish culture, seasonal festivities and Dublin's community. The event is family friendly, (children under 15 years of age must be accompanied by an adult), open to all and free.