UCD Festival

UCD was once again transformed into a festival of arts, science, technology, innovation, discovery and culture in June 2023. Over 20,000 people took a fully immersive step inside the world of UCD for the eighth annual UCD Festival which featured a host of cutting-edge and innovative displays where culture, sport, science and family fun collided, for a free one-day extravaganza. This summer’s offering had 130 free events take place across eight zones.

Over the course of the day, renowned writers graced the stages, sharing their literary thoughts and insights; special guests included Roddy Doyle, Emilie Pine, Elaine Feeney, Lisa McInerney, Nicole Flattery, Karl Geary, Disha Bose, Michael Magee, Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan and literary curator, Rick O’Shea. In the Intel Science and Innovation zone, scientists stepped out of their labs with research and student projects, experiments, interactive displays and workshops to inspire Festival visitors of all ages. Pepper (the humanoid robot in residence) met attendees, while in the Medtronic Engineering and Technology zone, engineering students brought along their inventions and prototypes so Festival goers could play with the latest gadgets.

The Festival embraced sustainability as a key theme in the expanded Discovery zone, implementing various eco-friendly initiatives and also demonstrating a commitment to minimising its environmental impact with the installation of refill water stations. From Insect Hotel workshops to demonstrations on reducing waste through recycling and composting, to promoting reuse and collaborating with ReCreate for a sustainability creativity area, in leading by example, UCD inspired attendees to adopt similar practices in their own lives, contributing to a more sustainable future.

This year, organisers worked hard to make the Festival inclusive and sensory friendly. In collaboration with Intel and UCD’s EDI committee, sensory friendly spaces and activities were created across the Belfield campus. A number of calm areas with low-level stimulation were available, specifically developed to accommodate neurodivergent attendees. A programme of activities was on offer, including a sensory friendly bus, a silent disco and a neurodiverse friendly screening of The Super Mario Bros movie.

We hosted a Science Reunion for the Classes of 1980, 1981, 1983, 1993, 2003 and 2013 on the morning of the Festival in the UCD University Club, with alumni going on to enjoy the Festival and witness the transformation of the UCD College of Science. A big first for the Festival in 2023 was the inaugural Michael Byrne Memorial Run, which preceded the day’s events. In honour of the University’s dear friend ‘Old Man Belfield’ who sadly passed away in January 2021, it was the first charity run to be held on the new UCD Athletics track.

The Festival closed on Sunday night with a spectacular concert featuring American jazz and blues legends from The Delta Blues Project in collaboration with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra with guest MC, Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman. A huge thank you to staff and student volunteers for sharing their passion for what they do, and to all our Festival visitors who helped make this a brilliant day. The UCD Festival wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of pillar partners Intel and Medtronic and Festival sponsor AIB.