To welcome in the New Year in style, we wanted to do something a little different than our usual London celebrations. So when the invitation to attend NYF Dublin 2016 arrived, we were delighted to accept. Combining dance, music and many other cultural events, it’s a 3 day festival spread across the city.
It was a quick and easy flight from London City airport to Dublin airport via Cityjet. Aer Lingus and our taxi transfer took less than twenty minutes to our hotel, just off St Stephen’s Green.
Little Museum of Dublin
We met up with the lovely people from Failte Ireland at The Little Museum of Dublin. I’ve been lucky to visit this fascinating place earlier in the year. Housed in a stunning Georgian town house, it celebrates the lives of ordinary Dubliners.
Paul hadn’t been before and like me, was impressed by the array of over 3000 artifacts. The ground floor exhibitions change regularly but one of the permanent and most popular rooms is the one dedicated to U2. Bono and The Edge even visited in secret and apparently enjoyed it, as they signed the guest book, with Bono commenting “awesome”.
Irish Music at O’Donoghue’s
From here, we walked a short distance to O’Donoghue’s. This bar on Merrion Row is famous for its live music and cosy atmosphere. Many celebrities have visited since it opened in 1934, including John F Kennedy…on a horse! The Dubliners actually formed their famous band here. Many punters have left a signed note in their currency as decoration. I was invited to pull a pint behind the bar, which I’ve never done before. It’s surprisingly easy if you follow the instructions and pull it in 2 stages, allowing it to settle before topping up the head. They even gave me a Guinness pint pulling certificate!
Dinner at Hugo’s
For dinner we visited Hugo’s, a few doors away. This intimate restaurant has been popular since opening in 2007 and serves up Irish cuisine with French influences. We enjoyed a delicious 3 course meal, including a tasty chicken and duck liver parfait, pan fried duck breast with beetroot, green apple amd calvados jus. My favourite course was the clementine and white chocolate mousse with a crunchy ginger bread crumble.
The next morning Paul and I did some sightseeing around the city, which I’ll be sharing with you in a later post.
Irish Food Trail
Afterwards we went on a fun Irish Food Trail around Dublin. We started our journey of discovery in Temple Bar, one of the most vibrant areas of the city. It’s busy during the daytime but really comes alive at night. Our friendly guide took us to a traditional Irish restaurant, Gallagher’s Boxty House, that is famous for its boxty, an Irish potato pancake. We were lucky to be treated to a demonstration on how to make boxty, before tucking into that and then a hearty selection of Winter stews. They went nicely with a pint of Jack Smyth stout.
At our next port of call, the stylish Front Door bar and restaurant on Dame Street, some other members of our group tried their hand at Guinness pint pulling.
Our final destination was Darkey Kelly’s, another good spot to listen to traditional Irish music. Darkey Kelly was burned at the stake for witchcraft in 1761 and although she was not actually a witch, bodies were discovered under the brothel that she ran so she may well have been a serial killer! Thankfully the bar itself is a welcoming place and the perfect venue to savour a whiskey and chocolate tasting. In Ireland, whiskey is spelt with an ‘e’ to distinguish it from Scottish whisky. Teeling Whiskey is the only distillery in Dublin and we’ll be telling you about our visit in a later post. All 3 of the whiskeys that we tasted were very drinkable, and we finished up with a superb Guinness chocolate mousse.
Now it was time to head to the NYF Dublin 2016 New Year’s Festival celebrations. There were concerts and dancing going on all around the city over 3 days, many of them free like Luminosity.
NYF Dublin 2016 – Luminosity at Customs House
With a backdrop of Dublin’s historic Customs House and the River Liffey, Luminosity was a breathtaking 3D light projection display held on several days. We watched as the building was enveloped in ever-changing images, each more spectacular than the last.
Many families had booked the free tickets and it was fun seeing the children gasp in delight as street performers on stilts approached them.
NYF Dublin 2016 – Sky Dance
For New Year’s Eve, Luminosity had a special twist…it became a 4D performance! On the top of Customs House, there are magnificent standing statues. For this night, they were joined by performance company Fidget Feet who took their position on the roof…before floating into the sky on a broomstick and in a boat. As they twirled over the crowd and the River Liffey, we admired their agility.
For the finale, they para-sailed down the building in a seemingly effortless display.
NYF Dublin 2016 – 3 Countdown Concert
After this we jumped in a cab and headed to St Stephen’s Green, where the 3 Countdown Concert was taking place. It’s normally held on College Green but due to roadworks took place around the Green this year, which had been fully pedestrianized for the occasion. There were four acts in total, Little Hours, Brian Deady, The Blizzards and the headliner, Walking on Cars. It was raining so we stopped first for a warming drink and caught the third and final performances. The Blizzards are an Irish band from Mullingar, who were celebrating their come-back single, Drop down the Anchor.
Despite the rain, their infectious tunes really pleased the crowds.
We were fortunate to see some of the behind the scenes filming of the concert for the headliner, Walking on Cars. They’re an alternative rock band who are well known for Speeding Cars, Ship goes down and Catch me if you Can. It’s impossible not to sing along to the chorus of Speeding Cars!
The countdown was fast approaching and as the New Year chimed in, we gave our fellow journalists a hug. It was nice to see the gig’s security guards shaking hands with members of the audience – all part of Dublin’s legendary friendliness.
Lunch at Fade Street Social
Next morning we met for lunch at trendy Fade Street Social. This casual eatery by chef-owner Dylan McGrath specializes in innovative cuisine. We were really impressed by the tapas appetizers in the Gastro Bar, combining unusual flavours like salted popcorn with crispy free-range chicken to great effect. The mini goats logs wrapped in ham and brushed with balsamic and truffle honey were my favourite.
Paul and I returned to Temple Bar on New Year’s Day and were handed NYF Dublin 2016 balloons. I gave them out later to two children, it’s nice to return the hospitality that we were shown by the people of Dublin. We had an amazing time at NYF Dublin 2016 and crammed so much into our extended weekend.
Athbhliain faoi mhaise dhuit – that’s Happy New Year in Gaelic! Check out Paul’s video of our adventures here:
Have you ever visited Dublin? How did you welcome in the New Year?