The UCD Festival has grown over the past five years to become the University’s largest public engagement event, showcasing the research, innovation and creativity that takes place at UCD every day. It’s a day when UCD’s students, academics, strategic partners and festival sponsors come together to deliver an inspirational day of inspiring and interactive events enjoyed by tens of thousands of students, staff, alumni and members of the local community.
To meet social distancing restrictions, it was clear that in 2020 the festival needed to adapt. So the UCD Festival@Home was developed, taking the spirit of the festival and transferring it to a virtual setting for thousands of alumni to engage with across the globe.
The UCD Festival@Home has already welcomed over 30,000 virtual festival-goers to date, who accessed the content from the comfort of their homes via the UCD Festival website, YouTube, Zoom and Facebook.
The inspiring, engaging, informative and fun activities of the in-person Festival prevailed. Over three days in May, more than 22,500 alumni, faculty, staff, students, future students and friends from more than 58 countries worldwide, engaged with a programme of 67 virtual events, live conversations, science shows and interactive workshops.
This digital-first for the UCD Festival could not have happened without the steadfast support of long-term Festival partners Intel, Microsoft and Explorium who supported the programme with engaging content, and the creativity and hard work of teams from across UCD’s Schools, Colleges and Units.
Highlights of the weekend included an “In Conversation” with Colm Tóibín and Professor Margaret Kelleher, attracting attendees from across Ireland, Europe, Iran, Nigeria and the US.
UCD Research and Innovation’s “Kids Q&A with Dr Tony”, was hosted by science journalist Dr Claire O’Connell. Children around Ireland Zoomed in to ask the celebrated UCD alumnus and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan questions about the Covid-19 pandemic.
UCD Business alumni and four of Ireland’s top athletes talked about leadership, teamwork and resilience. Johnny Sexton (Leinster and Irish Rugby), Cliona Crammond (All-American Soccer and UCD Soccer), Brian Fenton and Cian O’Sullivan (Dublin GAA Senior Football Team) joined alumnus Conor McNamara to chat about how they were staying mentally and physically fit through the lockdown.
As well as a very special virtual performance of “Maid of Culmore” by the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin, there were interactive workshops for all ages, from colouring and drawing to baking and Gaeilge. There was even a presentation on earthquake-proof engineering with the Microsoft Dreamspace Challenge team.
Mind and Body events included Dr Mark Rowe’s talk on managing stress and there was Pilates by the Lake with Colette O’Flynn, a talk on helping young people understand their emotional response to Covid-19 by Professor Gary O’Reilly from the UCD School of Psychology, and nutrition advice from Healthy UCD.
Thank you to the 20,000+ alumni and friends who tuned in across Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube for our two virtual series which launched in lockdown in April 2020.