Kilkenny Arts Festival

The Kilkenny Arts Festival, formally known as Kilkenny Arts Week, was founded in 1974 by a collaboration of classical music enthusiasts. It was inclusive of many art-forms, other than the classical, with Seamus Heaney giving a reading of his work.[1]

Today it includes theatre, dance, visual arts, as well as all forms of music and literature. The festival commissions works for the event from locally and from abroad.[2]

The Festival takes place each August in Kilkenny. It was one of the forerunners of a group of excellent festivals held in Ireland every year. Kilkenny Arts Festival is a showcase for Irish and international arts.

The festival Artistic Director is currently Olga Barry,[3] and was previously Eugene Downes.[4] Around 50,000 people attend the ten-day festival annually, with venues across the city from rooms in pubs, to the Cathedral and Castle.[5]


Performances have included US poet laureate Robert Pinsky, pianist Sir András Schiff, Mali virtuosos Toumani & Sidiki Diabaté, musician Alexander Lingas, historian Roy Foster, Irish portraitist Mick O'Dea, Iranian harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani and Chinese-born pianist Zhu Xiao Mei. Also performing and presenting during the week have been the US group Brooklyn Rider, Spanish Jordi Savall, Camerata Kilkenny, Heath Quartet, Garrison Keillor, Susan Philipsz, Colm Tóibín and Dawn Upshaw.[6][7][8]

The giant inflatable sculptures from Architects of Air are a fixture. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Company have performed on a number of occasions and there are original works by Liz Roche's Company, Martin Hayes and Junk Ensemble.[9][10][11][12][13]

Others involved with the festival include Louis Le Brocquy, Teatro Do Mar, The Gabrieli Consort, Victoria de los Angeles, Julian Lloyd Webber, The Tallis Scholars, Joshua Bell, Steven Isserlis, The European Baroque Orchestra, David Hockney, John Williams, Peter Brook, Robert Fisk, Misha Glenny, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Andreas Scholl, Amiina, Tindersticks, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Polina Leschenko, Aidan Turner and Cillian Murphy.[9][10][11][12][13]
Performances are as likely to take place on the streets as in an indoor venue. The festival is celebrated annually with a grand parade through the centre of the city.


  1. "Kilkenny Arts Festival". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  2. "Visit Kilkenny". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  3. "Director". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  4. "New director". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  5. "Visitors numbers". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  6. "The Irish Times reviews Kilkenny Arts Festival".
  7. "RTÉ on the Festival".
  8. "Coverage of Poet Laureate".
  9. "Irish mirror coverage". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  10. "Journal of Music". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  11. "Highlights". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  12. "Irish times". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  13. "Irish times list attendees". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
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