Since its foundation in 1974, Kilkenny Arts Festival has brought many of the world’s finest musicians, performers, writers and artists to the heart of Ireland’s medieval city each August.
Over ten days, the city’s historic churches, castle, courtyards, townhouses and gardens offer a magical setting for magical performances and up-close artistic encounters.
From the beginning, classical music has been at the core of the programme, featuring globally acclaimed artists such as Alfred Brendel, Jordi Savall, Dawn Upshaw, Nigel Kennedy and Joshua Bell among many others. Over the decades the Festival has staged major open-air productions of Shakespeare, hosting from 2012-14 annual residencies by Shakespeare’s Globe and the epic theatre event DruidShakespeare in the historic Castle Yard, Ireland’s finest open-air theatrical space.
Poetry has also featured prominently since the early years in the 1970s, when Seamus Heaney acted as literary curator and brought some of the world’s finest poets to Kilkenny, including Robert Lowell and Sorley Maclean. Last year, former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins was the Festival’s poet-in-residence, while extraordinary performance poet Kate Tempest gave the Irish premiere of her new album.
A centrepiece of our 43rd Festival, running from 5-14 August 2016, is Mozart: Prince of Music - Ireland's largest-ever celebration of this matchless composer. Our Mozart series, and several other concert highlights featuring some of the world's leading performers, are now on sale. As our Bach series last year sold out, do book early to avoid disappointment!
In other highlights, we're delighted to announce the return of the Marble City Sessions - these unique collaborations, co-curated and hosted by the inspirational Martin Hayes, will bring together a fresh line-up of guest artists from around the world to share musical traditions which cross continents and centuries.
The city’s oldest and largest non-profit festival now draws more than 50,000 visitors annually who come and partake in all that Kilkenny has to offer. So come to Kilkenny, be part of the festival and experience the Arts in a way you will never forget!