WHEN: Chinese New Year starts this weekend officially heralding the start of spring and, in Chinese astrology, the Year of the Rat. It’s marked by several (free) activities to enjoy with many buildings and landmarks across Dublin and Kildare illuminated in festive red. In Dublin, on January 26, join the Asia Market Food Tours on Drury Street, or pop along to Chester Beatty Library, where food writer Mei Chin will be leading the talk “Dumplings: Wrapping Up A Long History” what they symbolise, where they originated from and how they are made. (January 25, 1.10pm). At Kildare Village there will be family-friendly celebrations too. A full programme of events can be found here: dublinchinesenewyear.com
WHERE: Hotel Doolin Writers’ Weekend takes place this weekend from January 24 – 26 and is an inspirational escape for those looking to hone their writing skills – over 300 people from around the world are expected to attend. The three-day programme includes a reading with David Bowie’s favourite writer, Rupert Thompson, a seminar with Booker nominated writer, Eoin McNamee and a workshop on literary translation with writer, Jen Calleja. A weekend ticket is priced at €99 per person. Individual workshops tickets are priced at €40 per person. To book, visit doolinfestivals.ie.
WHAT: “Nature and Nurture” at Cliff at Lyons is a new outdoor thermal experience offering the chance to unwind and recharge in beautiful surroundings. Guests can enjoy the outdoor sauna, and a therapeutic soak in a wood-burning hot tub, with a glass of bubbles! Also included is a 25-minute treatment in The Well in the Garden Spa, with a choice of either a full body exfoliation or a hot towel head and scalp ritual. Add an overnight stay and breakfast the next morning from €275 per room; www.cliffatlyons.ie
WHY: Named as one of the country’s leading foodie destinations, restaurants in Kilkenny are taking part in the county’s first “Restaurant Week”. Running from January 22 – February 2, the initiative will see eateries offering discounts and special offers to customers. Among the restaurants taking part in the ten-day event are: Paris Texas; Lyrath Estate; Zuni; Matt The Millers; Kilkenny River Court Hotel; The Left Bank; Rive Gauche; Butler House; La Rivista and Harpers in the Hibernian Hotel. www.visitkilkenny.ie.
AND … We’re booking ahead for Medea, which opens next Thursday January 30 at The Gate and is directed by Oonagh Murphy. The Greek tragedy is seen through the eyes of Medea and Jason’s children. The play stars Eileen Walsh as Medea and Oscar Butler (10), Jude Lynch (9), Luke O’Donoghue (12), and Elijah O’Sullivan (13) as her sons. The play is part of the “Power and Freedom” series at The Gate which is explored in the new programme. Tickets for all performances start from €15; www.gatetheatre.ie