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Kilkenny Arts Festival

One of the biggest and longest established festival on the Irish calendar, this its 38th year, there is great variety at Kilkenny and it is known for the high standards of events. The festival completely takes over the city, with official and fringe events taking place in every available space, from shops and offices to hotels and pubs as well as on the street.

While it would be hard to single out any strand as being of particularly high quality, visual arts and classical music are always very strong. But with theatre, dance, literature, crafts and almost every type of music imaginable also on the menu there is plenty to please everyone. There is a strong children’s programme, though events on this tend to book out very early.

The festival organisers have introduced an innovative method of helping visitors to select the events most likely to interest them, by choosing from highlighted events for first time attendees, those who like their events a little on the alternative side, those who want to be inspired and those who like to be surprised. It’s an interesting way of looking at things and works.

Highlights in 2011 include New York ensemble Banana Bag & Bodice‘s production of  Beowulf – A Thousand Years of Baggage at the Set Theatre, the European Union Baroque Orchestraat the Black Abbey and exhibitions by Nick Millar, Ian Burns and David Beattie.

One of the best ways to get into the swing of things at Kilkenny is to just wander the of the town, first up John Street to the Castle, then along High St to St Canice’s Cathedral, dropping in at any of the exhibitions that catch your eye along the way. You could easily spend a happy couple of days just doing this and most exhibitions are free to enter.

Details and Location Map

A complete timetable is available at the festival website.

The locations below are the main ones, pick up a copy of the festival programme in the Box Office for a map of all locations.

A. Festival Box Office
B. Set Theatre
C. Kilkenny Castle (and Parade Tower)
D. Watergate Theatre
E. Black Abbey
F. St Canice’s Cathedral


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