HowthAs the college year draws to a close, many of us are thinking of ways to stretch out those last few euros. This being Ireland, it can be really difficult to come up with cheap, fun ideas that don’t revolve around drink. After dry January and with Lent having kicked off though, the incentive is there to stay off the booze.

Sure, you could head down to the National Museum of Art, a stone’s throw from Trinity, to stare at a painting Ferris Bueller style. But that isn’t for everyone. This spring, there are a handful of great events on offer in our city that break the mould and more importantly; are free to attend.

Screening at St. Joseph’s Parade, just off Dorset Street, the Firehouse Film Contest is a quirky evening of artistic film. Presented in the creative setting of A4 sounds, home to DJs like Sixfoot Apprentice and multimedia artist Dee Ambrose, the contest itself offers a diverse event that encourages new and established film-makers to create a film in the month preceding the big night. With the organisers looking for fun and engaging ideas, it’s sure win for whomever are looking to fuel their inner film geek and a great opportunity for those interested in the art to be exposed to some new, fresh works from new and practiced filmmakers. If you are interested in getting involved in film work, it’s a good chance to rub some shoulders too! Bop down on March 6th at 7pm to have a unique and free night.

Whilst a night at the movies is great for those who want to cosy up, there are those among us who enjoy nothing more than the simple pleasure that is stuffing our faces full of food with friends. A classier option than heading down to Boojum would be the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival, on March 18th to 20th. Heading into its 6th year, the festival returns to the fishing village of Howth. Unfortunately, the food isn’t free. The local bars, pubs, and restaurant will have some of their best dishes on offer, but there is more to the festival than just the food. The tented village will also have various exhibitions including cookery demos from local and celebrity chefs, fish filleting and net mending master classes from the fishmongers (a crucial life skill for any student to have!). Not only that, but there will be videos and storyboards dotted around the festival outlining the history of Howth and its maritime traditions. And of course, there are some quality pubs in Howth for you and your friends to end the day in.

Now in its 12th year, the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival returns this May. The festival was founded in 2004 and puts an emphasis on new or recent international and Irish works with a broadly gay theme or relevance from past and present artists. The Festival has grown to be one of the largest events of its type in the world. It’s criteria for inclusion into the programme are broadly interpreted to include works by gay writers, works that have a gay relevance or theme, or works that include either performance or another artistic contribution by gay people. The event is extremely open; participation and attendance is encouraged for those who wish to witness and acknowledge the immense contribution of gay people to theatre in all its form. Not only will you get to dive into the colourful culture of the LGBTQ+ community in Ireland, but taking place over two weeks, there will be something for anyone with even a passing interest in theatre. From drag shows to street entertainment to the parade, save your last €2 for a cheeky McDonalds after the closing night festivities.

Every week, there are new free events popping up on Facebook and other media sites. If you want to keep that budget tight, keep an eye out on the What’s On section on the Visit Dublin website ( You can always crash those local Clonskeagh house parties and nick some food and drink to survive ‘till exam season.

  • Emma Costello, Arts Editor
    This article originally appeared in Volume 29, Issue 9. Published February 29th 2016.