26 great science and tech events that will make your Culture Night

12 Sep 2016

Are you ready for Culture Night? Image: Luke Cerovina/CultureNight.ie

Culture Night 2016 is almost upon us, and the opportunity to blend STEM with a dash of the arts has been embraced across the whole island of Ireland.

If you’re not already aware, Culture Night is an annual, whole-island celebration of culture from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs in partnership with regional arts offices, local authorities and cultural organisations.

Of course, science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) has its own place in Ireland’s rich cultural heritage, which won’t be overlooked on Friday 16 September. Adding arts to the mix, STEAM-powered events will be taking place in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Derry, Kilkenny, Waterford and Belfast, featuring scientific experiments, academic research, technology tinkering and inquisitive explorations of the world around us.

More details on these events and how to plan your Culture Night can be found via the iOS and Android apps.

Inspirefest 2017


Earthquakes and Other Geohazards
5pm to 9.30pm, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), 5 Merrion Square, Dublin 2

What do you know about Ireland’s contribution to earthquake studies? While our little island is not prone to these violent tremors, Irish geophysicist Robert Mallet was such a pioneer in this field in the mid-19th century that he is known as the ‘father of controlled source seismology’. On Culture Night at DIAS, you can learn more about Mallet and explore the past and present of live earthquake monitoring worldwide, right in the heart of Dublin.

Dublin Language Garden
5pm to 10.30pm, Trinity Long Room Hub Arts & Humanities Research Institute, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2

Now an annual one-night event, the Dublin Language Garden will, on Culture Night, capture the wide variety of language spoken in Dublin. Linguistics researchers will be on-hand to document words, phrases and submissions from visitors, turning them into flowers and leaves that will transform the Trinity Long Room Hub into a garden of spoken delights. Be warned, however, as this language can get quite colourful as the night wears on. Parental guidance is advised.

5pm to 10pm, Boston College Ireland, 43 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2

The Irish Research Council has teamed up with Boston College Ireland to bring their #LoveIrishResearch campaign to Culture Night, taking the opportunity to showcase the breadth of cultural research currently taking place in Ireland. The picturesque premises will provide the setting for performances, demonstrations and activities including etho-modern dance, a magic lantern show dating back to 1890, traditional singing sessions, and a mythology reading workshop.

5pm to 10pm, MakeShop, 4 South Leinster Street, Dublin 2

MakeShop is a workshop space that gives people the tools, materials and guidance to get making. Stop by and see some of the interactive electronics projects and fantastic gizmos they have on display – think computer games controlled by fruit and sound waves rendered as words. Of course, as is the nature of this space, you can also get hands-on and find out how open-source technology and the maker movement are changing the cultural world.

Dublin’s Dragons!
7pm to 8.30pm, Natural History Museum, Merrion Street, Dublin 2

Zoologists Rob Gandola and Collie Ennis, specialists in amphibians and reptiles, will uncover the secret lives of Dublin’s Dragons at the ‘Dead Zoo’. At the Discovery Zone, you can learn more about the unique and exciting behaviours of the native reptiles and amphibians that can be found in the capital city. These short 10-minute talks and Q&A sessions for ages 10 and up will run at 7pm, 7.30pm and 8pm on a first come, first served basis.

Seeing: What Are You Looking At?
5pm to 10pm, Science Gallery Dublin, Pearse Street, Dublin 2

If you have yet to check out the Science Gallery’s latest exhibition, this could be your opportunity for a late-night look. Seeing: What Are You Looking At? promises to play with your perception while you discover how machines may change the way we look at our world. Robots will become artists, brains will become scanners, and there’ll be exclusive Culture Night activities and some good tunes to soundtrack the lot.


MakerDojo at Tyndall
5pm to 7pm, Tyndall National Institute, Lee Maltings Complex, Dyke Parade, Cork

Following up on a successful 2015 event, Tyndall National Institute is opening its doors once again for Culture Night. Unfortunately, the hands-on electronics prototyping workshops at the institute’s MakerDojo are already fully booked, though you may get the opportunity to watch others assemble their own remote-controlled car or smart home device using a simple electronic building block system. Otherwise, there’s hope the institute will have more visual stimulation on display from artist-in-residence Angela Gilmour.

Stargazing with Cork Astronomy Club
6pm to 10pm, CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, Castle Road, Blackrock, Cork

Weather permitting, Cork Astronomy Club will guide visitors at Blackrock Castle Observatory in a spot of stargazing and some hands-on science activities. Rain or shine, the observatory’s science centre will showcase some exclusive Culture Night content.

Faoi na Réaltaí
7.30pm to 9.30pm, Millennium Hall, City Hall, Terence MacSwiney Quay, Cork

In association with An tOireachtas and Foras na Gaeilge, Blackrock Castle Observatory will also create a phreab phláinéadlann (pop-up planetarium) in Cork City Hall. Visitors will be able to explore astronomy heritage and experience the wonders of the night sky as Gaeilge as the atrium of Millennium Hall is taken over by astronomy buffs and native Irish speakers. There will also be observations and readings from the Foclóir Réalteolaíochta, a pioneering work compiling astronomical terms in Irish, with glosses on some terms dating back to the year 850. With capacity limited, entrance to these shows requires booking.

Ireland in Space
5pm to 11pm, Cork Airport, Kinsale Road, Cork

The Ireland in Space exhibition in Cork Airport will chart the impact of space on the past, present and future of Ireland. Through pictures, this visual exhibition recognises the significant contributions Irish astronomers made to our understanding of the universe, from the oldest astronomical structure in the world at Newgrange, to the design and construction of the world’s largest telescope in Birr, through to Irish companies building hardware and software for the modern space industry.

Perceptions 2016: The Art of Citizenship
5pm to 11pm, Cork Airport, Kinsale Road, Cork

Perceptions 2016: The Art of Citizenship is marking this commemorative year with a variety of multi-venue exhibitions and events across Cork City in September and October. For Culture Night, the exhibition brings its colour, energy, imagination and discussion to Cork Airport. This major event brings together the work of 50 artists from around the world, taking the centenary of the Proclamation as an opportunity to reimagine the future and explore the possibility of a brighter, more equal society.

Applied Psychology
5pm to 8.30pm, UCC Enterprise Centre, North Mall, Cork

On Culture Night, all ages are welcome to discover what goes on at the University College Cork School of Applied Psychology. An array of classic psychological experiments will evaluate your mental strength, personality, intelligence and age, and Oculus Rift headsets will offer the opportunity to enter a virtual world. There will also be talks on mental health and a chance to experience art therapy.


Back to the Future: 21st Century Technologies in 1980s Galway
7.30pm to 9.30pm, Computer & Communications Museum of Ireland, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, NUI Galway, Dangan Business Park, Galway

Step back in time with the Insight Centre for Data Analytics and learn about the rich digital cultural heritage of Galway. You might just find out that the people of 1980s Galway were experiencing late-20th and 21st century technologies such as cloud computing, online social networking, weekend coding classes, computer games, robots, search engines, email, video conferencing and video phones.

Discover Merlin Park University Hospital
7.30pm to 10.30pm, Merlin Park University Hospital, Merlin Park, Galway

The Merlin Park Historical Group and Galway University Hospital Arts Trust will showcase an architectural and social history of Merlin Park University Hospital. Free guided tours will take in the Merlin Park Quarry and Castle, the Waithman Estate and a slideshow of the wildlife in Merlin Woods. There will also be screenings of the tuberculosis documentary Voyage to Recovery and film archives of the hospital’s former patients and staff. This event will also feature the official launch of the Merlin Park walking routes, with refreshments, music and dancing into the night.

The Night of the Harvest Moon
5pm to 7pm, Merlin Woods, Galway

Friends of Merlin Woods plans to celebrate the ecology and biodiversity of this urban woodland with a unique festival of the ancient Greek goddess of the harvest, Demeter. Fancy dress is encouraged for this feast, which will include theatre, song and dance.

Explore Under the Sea
2pm to 5pm, Galway City Museum, Spanish Parade, Galway

Baboró, the family arts festival, will present a sea science exhibit at Galway City Museum for ages four to 12. Bring the kids to be inspired to create their very own sea creature with artist Bernadine Burke.

SOAP Kitchen
6pm to 8pm, Church Yard Street, Galway

Science Foundation Ireland research centre CÚRAM usually showcases its research into next-generation smart medical devices. For Culture Night, though, current recipient of the CÚRAM Artist in Residence Award, the School of Alternative Possibilities, takes the spotlight to host SOAP Kitchen. This public participatory event invites hungry mouths and minds to chat with biomedical scientists over a bowl of warming broth prepared from foraged local ingredients. It’s open to all ages – until the soup runs out.


Nerve Centre FabLab
6pm to 9pm, Nerve Centre, 7-8 Magazine Street, Derry

The FabLab (that’s fabrication laboratory) at Derry’s Nerve Centre welcomes everyone from novices through to experienced designers and engineers to a drop-in open access session. Be they young children or entrepreneurs, anyone with a design idea will be able to turn it from concept to reality using open-source software and a selection of computer-controlled machines.


The Light Factory at Siamsa
5pm to 8pm, Arts Office, 5 Dean Street, Kilkenny

Siamsa has been part of the Kilkenny County Council Arts Office’s programme since 2011, running a wide range of workshops for kids. Booking is required for this evening with professional artist Orla Bates helping adults and children to tell stories with light. Expect silhouette drawings, shadow puppets, paper lanterns, glowing sand and experiments with different materials to explore how light travels.


Meet the Makers
6pm to 11pm, South East Makerspace, The Old Printworks, 4 Thomas Hill, Waterford

South East Makerspace (SEMS) invites you to meet their makers and check out their upgraded 3D printer and a variety of projects and works-in-progress. This community-operated workspace is one of many across Ireland where hobbyists and enthusiasts with interests in computers, machines, technology, science, and digital or electronic art can meet, socialise and collaborate.


Culture Night Belfast is now in its eighth year, marking a huge annual celebration of the city’s creativity. There are more than 250 free family-friendly events taking place across the historic Cathedral Quarter and beyond, and so the below represents just a small selection with a sci-tech bent.

Go Wild with Ulster Wildlife
4pm to 8pm, Writer’s Square, Belfast

These family workshops will fuse crafting activities with information about nature – and how to stand up for it – from conservation charity Ulster Wildlife.

Green Machine
1pm to 9pm, The Big Table, Donegall Street, Belfast

Belfast Food Network wants you to get your hands dirty with the conservation volunteers in their Green Machine for planting and their mini bug hotel workshops all day long. Learn all about growing your own food, biodiversity and how you can give nature a helping hand.

Virtual Reality Syria
6pm to 8pm, North Street, Belfast

Amnesty International will transport visitors from Belfast to the devastated streets of war-torn Aleppo via VR headsets. Viewing these apocalyptic scenes in 360-degree virtual reality will offer a new level of understanding and empathy with the crisis in Syria. The VR experience has been created using 3D photographs and audio captured by Syrian citizen journalists, who have been documenting the destruction caused by barrel bombing and other attacks on the besieged city.

Wee Gamers
6pm to 10pm, Redeemer Central, 101 Donegall Street, Belfast

Experience the unique world of miniature gaming, featuring Star Wars’ X-Wing vs Death Star, Marvel vs DC miniatures battle, Judge Dredd role-playing sessions and a Game of Thrones miniatures game on a Castle Black board.

ET: screening and interactive tweet-a-thon
4pm to 6.30pm, Redeemer Central, 101 Donegall Street, Belfast

The Steven Spielberg classic ET returns to the big screen in the unique surrounds of Redeemer Central Church, with an interactive tweet-along livening up the experience for Culture Night Belfast.

Science Busking
4pm to 9pm, Writer’s Square, Belfast

Science Busking brings science to the streets so that everyone can learn about genetics, targeted therapy and more, with interactive activities for all ages led by researchers from Cancer Research UK.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.