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Bad News about some events in Dublin!

Today I have lots of bad news and I am reluctant to spread all this doom and gloom because I prefer to spread joyful and happy news, but our event world in Dublin got some very unfortunate news that I have to share with you!

Yesterday the organisers of the Oktoberfest Dublin announced on Facebook (www.facebook.com/OktoberfestDublin/posts/2441964082556827) that “the 2019 event cannot go ahead due to unprecedented increases in our insurance premium”.

They then continue to explain that the claim culture in Ireland brought them to the decision to take a break this year. At the end of the post they offer some hope by saying “[we] ask you to look forward to Oktoberfest 2020.”

BUT there are other developments that will make Oktoberfest 2020 VERY unlikely: Dublin City is attempting to implement a “Water Animation Strategy” (Yep! That’s what they call it!), which will see George’s Dock being turned into a 250m long commercial whitewater kayaking course for a whopping 15mio. So then there will be no more events on the platform in George’s Dock or around the chq Building. (www.thejournal.ie/outdoor-pool-kayaking-ifsc-3965859-Apr2018/) And since an event like the Oktoberfest needs some suitable space where neighbours won’t complain about a beer festival until late in the evening, it is very unlikely that another venue will be found.

This is bad news for events in Dublin, but I hear some of you saying that it is just a beer festival, so not the biggest loss. You might be right, but read on…

In other recent news, the organisers of the “Dublin Flea Christmas Market” have announced (dublinchristmasflea.ie/) that the market will NOT take place anymore. In 2018 it was at the Point Village and happened over two weekends with 280 stalls. In 2019 there will be no more market because no suitable venue can be found (the building where the market took place in the last few years now has a tenant and is not available anymore).

Since this was the last large scale Christmas Market (not in the traditional meaning of a Christmas Market, but still a big market at Christmas!), this means that we really have hit rock bottom as far as Christmas events are concerned. Dublin City would have to take ownership of a market and NOT outsource it to an event management company, that’s how markets can be so successful in Germany and Austria and Poland etc, but Dublin City has no real interest!

One indication is this: If you had some hope that the closing of College Green for traffic would get Dublin City to put on some brilliant events, you will unfortunately be very disappointed.
Last weekend was the first of a few temporary College Green closures which will happen this summer to test the impact the pedestrianisation of this area could have and Dublin City promised “three great events” over three weeks under the headline “Summer Sundays on College Green”.
But the first one was the poorest of events that you could imagine. :-O The whole area from Trinity College to George’s Street was closed for traffic, but nothing was done with it! The area was just empty! A few small tents on the median just outside the Bank of Ireland building invited to “Drawing in the City”, but if that is what Dublin City calls a “great event”, we are truly doomed!

With over 80,000 followers and with a reach of over 30,000 for the weekly event post, we are one of the biggest event communities in Dublin and definitely the biggest community for free events. So can we do something to improve the situation in Dublin? Leave your suggestions below and also please spread the news to your friends, families and colleagues!

May your week be Event-Full!

–Joerg
(www.dublineventguide.com)

EPIC Ireland – The Journey of the People – New Visitor Attraction

EPIC Ireland is Dublin’s newest visitor attraction. It is based in the beautiful basement of the CHQ Building at George’s Dock (IFSC) and only opened last week. The exhibition is telling the story of the people of Ireland and you can “travel” with them. Thanks to @DarraghDoyle and the EPIC Ireland management, I got a chance to “travel” through the whole exhibition nearly 3 weeks ago and here are my impressions.

When you arrive you get a passport that shows you the stations on your travels through the exhibition and you can get a stamp in every room. But then it starts quite gloomy, because the Irish history wasn’t a happy story for long stretches. Emigration, unemployment, poverty and even death were everywhere. But luckily the fog lifts soon and EPIC Ireland celebrates the successes, the Irish people that made it, for example the scientists that had an impact on the world. It also celebrates Irish culture (Music, Sport and Pubs, but also literature, film, TV etc) and there are rooms for every aspect of culture. One of the most impressive one is a library, where you can move some books in the shelves and you hear then a reading of a section of that book.

The whole exhibition is heavily built around multi-media presentations. Many of them are interactive, which means that you are not only a passive viewer, but can experience the exhibition to a degree. There are very few panels that you have to read as you find them in traditional museums, but there are also quite few real exhibits. So you wouldn’t call EPIC Ireland a museum, instead it is a show. A multimedia show that uses more (touch) screens than you have ever seen before in one place.

After 1.5 hours travelling with the Irish people I came to the “finish line” (I rushed it a bit and could have spent at least another 30-45 minutes there) and at that point I had to think about my opinion of the overall experience. Not easy because it is so different.

EPIC Ireland was built by the same people that are behind the Titanic Experience in Belfast, but I have never been there. So for me this was the first FULL ON multimedia (not-)museum show and it was TOO much multimedia for me. I like slowing down sometimes and reading something or looking at exhibits, at EPIC Ireland one show element was immediately followed by the next as you walked through the rooms and at times I couldn’t keep up. However, this is just my preference, so what should I tell you?

After thinking a bit about it, I came to a definite conclusion: If you are Irish or have some Irish roots, you should definitely go to EPIC Ireland. It won’t cover all, there are many gaps in the story, but you should go nevertheless. You will probably only go once, but when you go, give yourself at least 1.5 hours, better 2 hours.

So should everybody go? I think, that if you are not Irish or have no Irish roots, but are just in Ireland because you like the landscape or Irish music or you just work here and don’t care too much about the history of Ireland, then this show is not for you. Foreign tourists should definitely go to the National Museum, but unless they feel (partially) Irish, EPIC Ireland might not be for them. In other words: American tourists with Irish roots HAVE to go :-) , but Spanish, French, German etc etc tourists can live without it.

The show elements and the work behind it is absolutely impressive and while I missed a few elements about today’s Ireland (Music, TV, Film and Politics and Science & Technology) I am ok with the fact that even the historical parts are in many areas only skimming the surface. EPIC Ireland is not a comprehensive historic treatment of Ireland, but it is an EXPERIENCE of Ireland.

So, go when you can get a chance and if you can afford it and build your own opinion! I mentioned it here and in general left it until last: EPIC Ireland is, together with the Guinness Storehouse, the Wax Museum and also the 1916 Experience in the GPO part of the newer and costly visitor attractions. In the past Ireland was the country where the museums are free, but these good times are behind us. EPIC Ireland costs EUR 16 for an adult and EUR 8 for a child, but unlike in the Guinness Storehouse, there is no pint of beer waiting for you at the exit. ;-) So at that price, it is not something that many would go to without thinking. With the amount of work to create this show and the vast amount of flat screens (I am still not over that! ;-) ) I can see how the price is justified, but I also have to admit that I still find it very high.

Should you still go? Yes! Save for a little if you have to and then go. Spend all the time there that you need, because you will most likely not come back, but do it once!

Opening times are 7 days a week from 09:00-19:00. Tickets can be bought and more information can be found on www.epicirelandchq.com/

Ireland and Christmas Markets – It can’t be THAT difficult!

In Germany and Austria and a number of other European countries nearly every little village has some sort of Christmas market and if the place has more than maybe 40k inhabitants, then they often have a very impressive market. And oddly the Christmas Market in a 40,000 people city is MUCH better than any markets in the 1.5 mio city of Dublin. So what is the problem? Why can’t anybody get it hacked in Ireland despite years of trying and trying?

I have my own theories and they might be wrong, but what do you think about this:

I get the impression that in Germany and Austria etc the markets are firstly for the visitors, secondly for the traders and only in third place are the organiser’s interest. This probably has to do with the fact that it is usually not an Event Management organisation that is in charge of the market on the continent. In Ireland it is different: The first priority seems to be given to the organiser. Then they will consider briefly the traders but would love to get rid of them and only in third place ranks the audience, the customers.

But Christmas Markets are not and should not seen as a get-rich-quick scheme for organiser. Only when that changes we have a chance to see a proper Christmas Market.

There are a few unfixable problems:

Food and Gluehwein will never be as low priced as outside of Ireland. A cup of Gluehwein seemed outrageously priced at EUR 6 and it is! In Lidl you can get a litre of Gluehwein for that price. But listen to that: In Germany you pay for the same cup ONLY around EUR 2.50, BUT the bottle in Lidl is only EUR 1.50. So if we compare the price per cup with the price of the bottle then we don’t do horribly bad here. Why is the bottle so expensive here? Mainly taxes!! Thanks, deas government for even ruining our Gluehwein addiction. ;-)

And another problem: There seems to be a serious shortage of high quality craft traders in Ireland. At least of Christmas compatible and “sellable” craft!

——————-

But, I hear you saying, are the Christmas markets here really that bad?

About 10 years ago the first market appeared at George’s Dock. At the time a German company was hired to run it and they did a reasonably well job, but it was a new concept and visitors were not as plentiful as they should. After about 5 years (and I am probably not 100% correct with my timings) they were not hired again. Instead an Irish company event management company thought they could do a better job and things started going downhill: The white plastic tents were introduced. They create as much Christmas atmosphere as a Tupperware bowl. That Irish company tried for 2 years and failed. Then another Irish Event Management company got involved and just lasted one year and then there was no market last year at George’s Dock.

That’s when the era of the City Centre Christmas market began! The era lasted one year and was a disaster. In principle it was a very good idea to move the market away from the far-out-the-city IFSC to the centre. But squeezed on the footpath next to Stephen’s Green was a totally wrong place for it. Stephen’s Green would be super, but here shows up another problem: We have NO single suitable space in the City Centre of Dublin that would allow the set up of a Christmas Market Village (not just a string of stalls). Smithfield or the Point Village would be suitable regarding the space, but the location is totally unsuitable.

What else went wrong last year? Well, Christmas Markets need to have a VERY strong food and drink (at least Gluehwein) component to keep people there for a while. Only if people stay there you create atmosphere and you get others to meet them there. But Dublintown (the organisers of last year’s market) decided in their wisdom to give the “catering contract” (totally wrong approach!!) to one single company. So no competition, no variety, no excitement about the food. In addition, Dublintown was worried that the restaurants and traders in the city (who they represent) would suffer from having a too strong food and drink component. And finally: They thought more about marketing the Christmas Market than making it good!

Which brings is to the “I believe (TM) Christmas Tree & Village”. WHAT? Who in their right mind thinks first about trademarking the name of a Christmas Market (on top of that this name “I believe” is totally nonsensical!) and why is it not called Christmas Market, but “Christmas Tree & Village”? So the tree is more relevant than the village? And the village is not really a market? And the “I believe” part is trademarked? Seems like a PR agency ran riot!

The right approach? Create a deadly Christmas Market and you won’t need a fancy or even trademarked name because it speaks for itself! The Nuremberg Christmas Market as one of the most famous and best known in the world, is called “Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt” (Christchild Market). Nothing fancy, no trademark. No silly PR or marketing. It is an amazing market that speaks for itself WORLDWIDE!

More nonsensical claims at the I believe market? Sure!! What about the “Rockefeller-style” Christmas tree? What is “Rockefeller-style” about the tree? The tree is about half as high as the one at the Rockefeller Centre in New York and the lights in Dublin are as boring as hell. NOTHING that even comes close to the magical Rockefeller Centre tree. Empty promises! Like the claim about the importance this market will have in Europe within 5 years. The claim is that it will be one of the top markets in Europe within 5 years. Why does that matter? By the way: It will have NO importance in the international context and it is not relevant either. If they had focused on doing the best possible Christmas Market instead, it would be a success. But that was seemingly forgotten.

I could go on about the outrageously Après Ski table rent and the continued failure to include the CHQ building more, but I want to mention some of the good things before I will take a chill pill (You might have gathered that I am very passionate about Christmas Markets. Maybe I should offer my services as a Christmas Market consultant? ;-) )

There are definitely some good sides about the Dublin Docklands Christmas Market (trademark whatever you want of this):

For the first time the trader selection seems to be well thought out and comes close to what a Christmas Market should be. The layout of the platform in George’s Dock is good and if the white plastic tents were replaced with proper wooden huts (and there are right and wrong ones!!) it would come closer and closer to a good Christmas Market. More traders are needed and some Christmas music would help, but the decoration is quite pretty.

Sure the food trader (again seemingly in one hand) situation has to get sorted as well, competition and more variety is needed, also for the Gluehwein, but that is a relatively simple change. The opening hours are good and the entertainment programme that was originally promised seemed good as well, unfortunately though, I haven’t found a website where this programme of live entertainment has been listed for people to see. With such a marketing focus event this is a big oversight.

Is the “I believe” Market salvageable? Yes! Fire the marketing company and involve people that have been at least ONCE at a European Christmasmarket and it could be really good in about 3-4 years. However, because the NO 1 interest is still the organiser, I have doubts that it will make enough money to keep them interested that long.

If you read till here: WOW! ;-) This concludes my rant and if you want to share your opinion with me, send it to dublineventguide@gmail.com

 
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