A Shout in the Street
Over the decades, Bloomsday has evolved into a literary street carnival since its first celebration in 1954. Dubliners and visitors don straw hats and bowlers, put on their version of Edwardian garb or dress as one of the more fantastical characters and gather at the locations of Joyce’s epic novel to celebrate Leopold Bloom’s odyssey through Dublin in 1904. They sing songs featured in Ulysses, drink and eat, quote their favourite lines to each other, read excerpts from the book and swap Joyce and Bloomsday stories. Some even try and follow in the footsteps of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus by journeying from one location to the other in one day.
To experience and contribute to the street carnival atmosphere, dress up for the occasion and head to one of the following events or locations.
The seaside towns of South Dublin, where a good part of Ulysses takes place are thriving Bloomsday Hubs. Every 16 June, the people of Sandycove and Glasthule dress themselves and their town up, put tables and chairs on the main street and celebrate Bloomsday with food, drink and music. Join in the fun after a visit to the James Joyce Tower and Museum and a dip in the Forty Foot. Then hop on the dart to Blackrock and enjoy A Play on Ulysses in the streets of this charming seaside town or join in the festivities on the Village Green in Sandymount, where Joyce lived briefly and his two protagonists walk along the Strand at different times of the day.
For a city centre street carnival atmosphere, head to Duke Street, where crowds gather at Leopold Bloom’s lunch spot in the Lestrygonians episode, Davy Byrne’s Pub and The Bailey. Join in the sing-song and bond with the locals and other Bloomsday Pilgrims over a pint and your love of Joyce. Another open air gathering of Bloomsday revelers happens in Wolfe Tone Square at the Bloomsday Readings & Song, where writers, politicians, singers, actors and poets read from Ulysses. And what is a street carnival without a parade? After the Bloomsday Body Painting Jam, you can admire the living art pieces on their parade through North Dublin to Wolfe Tone Square. And if you are feeling artistic or brave, join the body painting in celebration of the absurd and nutty in James Joyce’s masterpiece or become the canvas.