Dublin’s springtime celebration: Sensoria festival for neurodiversity

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Dublin's Springtime Celebration: Sensoria Festival for Neurodiversity, Concept art for illustrative purpose - Monok

In honor of World Autism Month, Dublin County Council has unveiled Sensoria, Ireland’s inaugural festival catering to neurodivergent children and adults. Scheduled for April 28th, Sensoria is poised to become a hallmark of Ireland’s spring/summer calendar. Developed in collaboration with Neurodiversity Ireland and AsIam, this uniquely curated event aims to celebrate the neurodiverse community through thoughtful and creative outdoor experiences.

The festival will feature calming and stimulating activities in a safe and inclusive environment. Sensoria will be a ticketed event to maintain a comfortable atmosphere, prioritize attendee safety, and prevent overcrowding.

As detailed in the press release, the park will be partitioned into several zones, each showcasing a variety of performances.

Attendees can expect workshops and activities tailored to their diverse interests and requirements. These zones encompass the Main Stage, Street Theatre Zone, Neuro Spectacular!, Aerial Show, Workshop & Performance Tent, Sensory Dome, Sensory Garden, Sensory Messy Play, and The Big Dig.

I am delighted to launch Dublin City Council Sensoria today, the first ever festival for neurodivergent families in Ireland

Daithí de Róiste, Lord Mayor of Dublin

The Lord Mayor added that every parent and child can enjoy public events. Through consultation with experts in neurodiversity, a space of acceptance, calm, and understanding has been established.

A unique, relevant program of performances, workshops, and activities has been meticulously designed to cater to the needs of neurodiverse families. The organizer eagerly anticipates this event becoming an annual occurrence as part of the overarching plan to transform Dublin into a Neurodivergent Friendly City.

The Event Details

The Dublin City Council’s Sensoria is a free ticketed event organized into two sessions to effectively manage attendee numbers. Merrion Square Park will be partitioned into zones, each offering performances, workshops, and activities tailored to accommodate the attendees’ needs.

Key features of the Main Stage include two specially commissioned performances for Dublin City Council Sensoria: ‘Squish, Stomp, Spin – The Magic of Stim,’ a world premiere by ADHD artist Moss Russell from Cork, and ‘Stories from the Half Light: The Fairy Tale Films of Lottie Reineger,’ sensory silent films with a new live score by composer Matthew Nolan, accompanied by Sharon Phelan and Ellie O’Neill.

Additionally, there will be performances from Go Dance for Change, a cross-cultural collaborative platform utilizing dance, a musical performance from The Meeting Place Club, a center for young people with special needs in Finglas, and Rejoice Gospel Choir.

Attractions at the Workshop & Performance Tent

The Workshop & Performance Tent offers an interactive experience with various activities. Highlights include ‘Voyage,’ a Sensory Movement Workshop by Jess Rowell Dance; ‘Dublin as an Inclusive City,’ a panel discussion hosted by Dublin Lord Mayor Daithí de Róiste focusing on making Dublin a Neurodivergent Friendly City; and a presentation by autistic writer Caoimh Connolly Murphy on his unique communication method, Spell 2 Communicate, accompanied by a poetry performance.

Óga Yoga provides creative, practical, and enjoyable yoga sessions for children, while Dublin City Hugh Lane Gallery will host outdoor drawing workshops. Little Gem Puppets will present the beloved family show, Little Red Riding Hood.

The Street Theatre zone, curated by Dublin City Council Sensoria, offers non-verbal street theatre performances tailored for neurodivergent families. Acts include Siolta Circus with ‘On Tish,’ Symmetry Circus with ‘What’s Watt,’ and Mr H showcasing acrobatics and juggling.

Tumble Circus will perform two aerial circus shows, with roaming acts such as ‘Out of the Blue,’ an interactive circus show by renowned Italian female clown Fra Martó, comic clown Marcel So What, vibrant samba ensemble Morro 16, and CÓRus Choir, Ireland’s most prominent adult singing group.

Speaking about the upcoming event, Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm, expresses his enthusiasm:

“We are delighted to participate in the Dublin City Council Sensoria Festival. Everyone deserves equal opportunities to enjoy the cultural life of our capital city. Unfortunately, festivals and special events often overlook the needs of autistic and neurodivergent individuals.

This festival not only acknowledges the invisible barriers our community faces but also prioritizes their support needs, experiences, and preferences. Following the success of the relaxed space at this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, Dublin City Council Sensoria represents another significant step towards Dublin’s goal of becoming the world’s first Autism Friendly Capital City.

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