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Over 20,000 people to attend the annual UCD Festival this weekend


Sophie Wallis pictured at the programme launch for The UCD Festival. Over 130 free events are scheduled to take place this weekend. Image Marc O'Sullivan

More than 20,000 people are expected to attend University College Dublin’s Belfield campus this Saturday, June 10, for the annual UCD Festival. A celebration of arts, science, and innovation, the festival boasts eight vibrant zones, with topics ranging from artificial intelligence and sustainability to robotics and Jazz music. Over 130 free events are scheduled to take place including interactive exhibits, performances and creative workshops.


On Saturday June 10, Irish music luminary Dónal Lunny will be joined on stage for a performance alongside students from the university’s trad music programme. Elsewhere, the festival will play host to a remarkable lineup of talks with award-winning authors including Roddy Doyle, Lisa McInerney, Emilie Pine, Elaine Feeney, Nicole Flattery, Michael Magee and Karl Geary.


Visitors can try a yoga class at the Mind and Body Zone, or enjoy a BBQ with live entertainment at the Family Fun Zone while the Discovery stage will host various cultural performances presented by university’s Student Societies. Budding writers can embark on a creative writing adventure with children’s author, Dave Rudden, or attend a creative writing workshop with Fighting Words.


On Sunday, June 11, the festival will draw to a close with a special concert featuring a sensational collaboration between the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and The Delta Blues Project. Ticket holders are in for a treat as organisers’ have revealed that Academy Award Winning actor Morgan Freeman will act as honorary MC on the night. In advance of the concert, musician’s from The Delta Blues project will host a free workshop on Friday June 9, exploring the inner workings and history of the gritty and heartfelt Mississippi Delta Blues style of music including live musical demonstrations.


A Sensory Friendly Festival

This year, festival organisers are working hard to make the festival an inclusive and sensory friendly event. In collaboration with UCD’s EDI committee, sensory-friendly spaces and activities have been created across the Belfield campus. A number of calm, sensory friendly, areas with low-level stimulation will be available to festival attendees, specifically developed to accommodate neurodivergent attendees.


A programme of sensory friendly activities will also take place including a sensory friendly bus, a silent disco and a neurodiverse friendly screening of The Super Mario Bros movie. Volunteers will be managing these spaces to ensure that they are a peaceful and welcoming refuge from the bustling festival activities. The Sensory Friendly areas will be denoted on the festival map by a rainbow infinity symbol. During the festival, a panel discussion will take place chaired by Ken Kilbride, CEO of ADHD Ireland, exploring the theme of ‘Making UCD a Neurodiversity Friendly Campus’.


The Michael Byrne Fun Run

As part of this year’s festival an inaugural charity run will take place in honour of one of the university's most memorable characters, Old Man Belfield. The event, named the Michael Byrne Memorial Run will be held on the new UCD running track on Saturday, June 10, in honour of the late homeless man, Michael Byrne, affectionately known by students as Old Man Belfield. A familiar face on the UCD campus for over 30 years, Mr Byrne passed away in 2011. Following his death the university established the Michael Byrne Community Fund. The fund's activities include establishing a bursary for students who may not be able to afford accommodation.


Speaking ahead of this weekend’s celebrations, festival organiser, Sheila Morris invites the public to come and be inspired:


“At the UCD Festival this weekend, you have the chance to jump into a world of thinking, creating, innovating and discovering and be inspired by a day of free events for all ages. The festival is a chance to discover hidden talents, explore breakthrough research, and engage with world-class academics, researchers, and authors. Visitors will have the chance to meet with specialists in the fields of science, technology, health, and culture. Come join us for an extraordinary celebration of UCD's educational excellence.”


The UCD Festival will take place this weekend. All events taking place this Saturday, June 10, are free but booking may be required for some events. The UCD Belfield campus is served by the 11, 39a, 46a, 47, 142, 145 and 155 bus routes and is located within walking distance of Sydney Parade Dart station.


For the full festival programme visit: https://festival.ucd.ie


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