Before you give the gift of an experience, you need to do a little thinking about the person you are choosing the gift for. For example, if that person likes listening to classical music, you could gift them an annual subscription to the National Concert Hall (NCH), which costs €100 until January 31st, 2023. This membership gives 10 per cent reduction on ticket prices. Alternatively, you could buy tickets to the forthcoming international concert series or the National Symphony Orchestra season, with new student tickets only costing €10 per concert.
If your friend/family member enjoys cinema, you could buy an annual membership to the Irish Film Institute for €35 (€20 for students/people with disabilities and those in receipt of the old age pension). This offer includes discounted cinema tickets, discounted IFI@Home films and the monthly programme posted to their home.
If your gift recipient is more academically inclined, how about signing him/her up for a semester of lectures? Most universities have an extensive range of short courses on Irish, European and world history, literature, history of art, architecture, psychology, philosophy and other topics. You can check out short courses at Trinity College Dublin on tcd.ie/courses and at University College Dublin on ucd.ie/all. These lifelong learning courses vary in price from about €75 to €150 per term, depending on the number of lectures.
If learning a language is something that interests the person you are gifting, do a little digging and see whether he/she would enjoy studying: French at the Alliance Française in Dublin or Cork (eg a two-hour weekly class for eight weeks costs €220); German at the Goethe-Institut in Dublin (a twelve-week course of four 45-minute classes per week costs €450); Spanish at the Instituto Cervantes in Dublin (10-week course with one two-hour class weekly €325); or Italian at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Dublin (a 15-week course with a weekly two-hour class costs €290).
For those keen to learn Ancient Greek or Dutch, Portuguese or Japanese, language departments at universities offer short courses. Also on offer from January 2023 at the Centre of Deaf Studies at TCD is a 10-week introduction to Irish Sign Language for €120.
If the person you are gifting is more active and would be happy to wait until the summer to cash in their gift, you could consider signing them up for course in sailing or paddle-boarding. A two-day Start Sailing course at the Irish National Sailing School costs €199 and a stand up paddle boarding lesson costs €45 (starting in May, 2023) from surfdock.com at the Grand Canal Dock in Dublin. The latter could be a nice gift for a family, as anyone aged eight and upwards can join the class.
Cookery classes are another option for those who enjoy trying out new styles of cooking. The Dublin Cookery School in Blackrock, Co Dublin, has a wide range of day and evening classes for €90 each. These include the popular Friday Night Supper Club where you get to enjoy a sit-down dinner afterwards. The Ballyknocken Cookery School in Co Wicklow also offers everything from baking and foraging classes to superfood cooking classes.
Bridge is a popular card game that requires a certain skill level before someone can join a club. To gift a series of beginners’ bridge classes, check out adulteducationireland.ie for a community school near you that hosts evening classes in beginners bridge (eg a series of nine two-hour long weekly bridge classes at Ashbourne Community School in Co Meath starting on January 23rd costs €110).
Or if you are looking for something completely different, how about signing up your gift recipient for classes in botanical art at the Trinity Botanic Gardens in Dartry, Dublin next May (firstname.lastname@example.org) or a three-hour mosaic-making workshop with artist, Des Fox (email@example.com) in Greystones, Co Wicklow, or even an introductory course in acting at the Lir School of Acting in Dublin or the Department of Theatre at University College Cork.