Thursday, January 6, 2011

10 THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2011


What a year 2010 proved to be for Dublin. I was going to start naming the landmark events but when I put them down on paper they all proved too depressing to talk about so instead I decided to focus on what there is to look forward to in 2011…and what a year we have in store my friends. I was look for 10 things but could have written 80. There is so much going on in Dublin in 2011…plenty to smile about.

So here we go and in no particular order:

St Patrick's Day – Ireland’s Day. Dublin may not boast the biggest St Patrick’s Day Parade (New York has the largest parade in the world) but there is no better place to be on St Patrick’s Day (or week) than Dublin City. And it is not just the parade. There is so much to do around the streets of Ireland’s capital during the festival. It is a celebration of Irish culture and for the uneducated on the subject…it is a very extensive portfolio. Art, music, literature and theatre and much more. Where ever you go in Dublin in that week you are sure to have some craic. You can find out more about the festival on www.stpatricksfestival.ie. The St Patrick’s Festival runs from the 16th – 20 of March.

Europa Cup Final - Europe's second biggest international club cup competition comes to Dublin this May and what a fitting event for one of the worlds most spectacular stadiums. That may be a bold statement but having watched the old Lansdowne Road pulled down and then view the creation of the stunning structure that is the new Aviva Stadium I'm fairly confident that visitors who see it will agree. As there is no Irish interest n the Europa Cup I'm going to put my money on Liverpool, although I think there is more chance of Shane McGowen becoming Pope, judging by their current form. Our close cousins would make it a night to remember as most are half Irish anyway and it is the closest thing we could get to having a home team in the final. The final takes place on the 18th of May.

Six Nations - Ireland have been fairly successful in recent years at the game of rugby. Led by talisman Brian O'Driscoll this is going to be a massive year for the boys in Green. With the World Cup in New Zealand this September fans are going to get to see their heroes more than they'd be used to. France in February and England in March in the Six Nations. The lads owe me big time. I much prefer to watch rugby from the comfort of my couch but decided, due to the fact that they were going to play their last game in Croke Park almost guaranteed to lift the Triple Crown against lowly Scotland, that I'd go to the game...they lost!!! For visitors rugby is a fascinating and sometimes brutal sport to watch and the beauty about it is the recession means that it may not be impossible to get tickets for the games in the Aviva this year. If you don't make the Six Nations games both France and England return for World Cup warm up games in August.

Sound of Music – I’ve been harping on about the brilliance of the Grand Canal Theatre for ages at this stage and it appears that many people agree. The Theatre had a stunning 2010 and bucked the trend in recession hit Ireland. 2011 is going to be another big year for the guys down in the stunning venue with a host of fanctastic shows including Calendar Girls, Josephs & His Technicolor Dreamcoat, Peter Pan, Greece, Mamma Mia and Sister Act to name just some of the shows coming to Dublin this year. But the big one for us is the Sound of Music. Maybe it is the child in me but I think this particular tale holds a special place in most people’s hearts…particularly after the festive season when the film is strewn across the small screen. Sound of Music runs in the Grand Canal Theatre from the 4th to the 30th of April. Click here to book the Theatre Package.

The Script at Aviva Stadium - These lads are really making a name for themselves across the globe but their success at home is literally stunning. Three night's in The O2 sold out in March and then they return for the big one...a sell out show in the Aviva Stadium. One of the reasons that I like these lads, apart from the fact they release consistently good music, is that they are so humble. They may be international start but the fact that they've sold out the Aviva Stadium is not lost with them. On a recent appearance on the Graham Norton Show the lads could not hold in their excitement about playing the venue...much to the confusion of Norton, who despite being Irish claimed ignorance to its existence. Hmm!!! The Script play the Aviva Stadium on the 2nd of July.

All Ireland Finals - Attended the Tipperary/Kilkenny final last year with a friend from the UK and both us went away equally impressed. It is hard to comprehend that these ridiculously talented sports men play the sport for nothing. Apparently a group of American troops stopping over in Shannon on their way to a year's tour of duty in Iraq were so inspired by an ad they saw on TV in the airport that they started their own team. Now the American military are making available the sloitar, hurleys and helmets available to all serving troops. They need to get down to Croke Park in September to really appreciate the spectacle. A must...if you can get a ticket that is.

Riverdance - Behind Guinness and U2, is there another Irish brand that stands out so clearly to tourists? Well to be fair to the tapping feet of the Riverdance crew they are much more than a brand and their highly and acclaimed spectacle returns to the Gaiety Theatre this summer from the 28th of June till the 28th of August. I've seen it around five times at this stage. Roll on the sixth. I’ve a feeling this show is going to become a permanent fixture every summer in Dublin, although that is a statement of the obvious considering it has been running in the Gaiety Theatre for 150 years at this stage. It is well worth the visit…even for the atmosphere after the show when everyone spills out on to St Stephen’s Green. Riverdance runs in the Gaiety Theatre from June 28th – August 28th. Click here to book the Package.

U2 - Rumors were rife around the internet last year that Dublin's favorite sons were going to make an October appearance in the Aviva Stadium but unfortunately it didn't happen. Well U2 are due to finish off their World Tour in Europe this year and the Beautiful Day hit makers are almost certain to make the Aviva Stadium a date...maybe up to five times???? Fingers crossed. Watch this space.

Dublin Theatre Festival – The Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival is dedicated to presenting the very best of national and international theatre every Autumn…or so www.dublintheatrefestival.com tells us. I’m a novice when it comes to theatre but the one thing I do know is that Ireland produces a serious amount of talented actors, writers and directors. Liam Neeson, Colm Meaney, Peter O’Toole, Brendan Gleeson, Neil Jordan, Colin Farrell, Jim Sheridan, Roddy Doyle, Soirse Ronan, Cillian Murphy, Richard Harris, Martin McDonagh and Paddy Breathnach to name just a few. Dublin also boasts some of the most renowned theatre’s on the planet with the Abbey and the Gate in particular having hosted some of the greatest stage productions. Check out the aforementioned website for announcements. The Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival runs from September 29th till the 16th of October.

If I missed anything let me know. But special mention to the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival (1st – 14th Feb), Jameson Dubln International Film Festival (17th – 27th Feb), Dublin Book Festival (March 4th – 6th), Carling Nations Cup (February 8/9th and May 24th – 29th), AIB Street Performance World Championship (June 16th – 19th) and Bloomsday Festival (June 16th – 19th).

Yours Ollie McGrath.

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