Kilkenny Arts Festival Guide

Kilkenny Arts Festival is our favourite of all the festivals that take place in our Medieval City. This year it’s the Festival’s 45th edition and it gets better with each year. The Festival offers something for everyone – young and old and both day and night. To help you plan your Festival, read our Kilkenny Arts Festival Guide.

Shakespeare in the Castle Yard
A Festival ‘must see’. This year sees Rough Magic stage a new and uniquely Irish take on Shakespeare’s most magical comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Staged within the walls of the Castle Yard, it’s a not-to-be-missed performance.  With the performance starting at 8pm, we suggest an early dinner in Rinuccini after which you can stroll the few doors up to the Castle Yard to take your seat.
The Return of Ulysses by Claudio Monteverdi
This year Opera Collective Ireland joins forces with Kilkenny Arts Festival to stage the first ever performance in Ireland of one of the greatest baroque operas. Monteverdi’s magnificent music finds a perfect creative match in the human drama of Homer’s Odyssey. With two evening performances and an afternoon performance in the Watergate Theatre, don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience a glorious operatic marriage of Homer’s epic and renaissance Venice.
Stephen Rea performs New York Time
Stephen Rea returns to the Watergate Theatre for a new project with one of Ireland’s greatest living poets. Derek Mahon’s New York Time is a personal poetic sequence drawing on his years living in Manhattan. This performance offers a unique experience of words and music.
Secret Garden Music
Secret Garden Music is a highlight of the Festival. Every day of the Festival, a range of artists offer pop-performances in some of the city’s loveliest gardens. Keep an eye on the Festival’s website and social media to find out who’s playing and where. Then just pop along and enjoy informal experiences with great artists for free. We recommend enjoying a leisurely lunch in Rinuccini and then wandering along to that’s day’s secret performance in the afternoon.
Art and Craft Exhibitions
Throughout Arts Week, every free space in the city is occupied by local Irish and international artists exhibiting their art. Wander through the city visiting pop up art galleries and see everything from modern art to traditional craft. If you are lucky, you just might fall in love with a piece.
We recommend early booking for both lunch and dinner during the Festival. To book your table, call us on 0567761575 or email us at For the full Festival programme, click here