Kilkenny is a superb destination in the south west of Ireland. If you’re thinking of heading here while in Ireland why not make your trip coincide with one of its festivals. Kilkenny boasts some of the top festivals in Ireland and there really is something here to suit everyone whether you enjoy music festivals, food festivals or art festivals. Check out our guide to Kilkenny’s top festivals before you go and then join in the celebrations!
Kilkenny Arts Festival
This is the longest running arts festival in Ireland! It runs over 10 days in August and features the best of literature, art, film, music, craft, theatre, jazz traditional Irish music and dance so there’s something for everyone! The streets come alive with music and street performances and the whole city is buzzing with activity. This festival started in the 1970′s and it is one of the city’s biggest free events attracting people from all over Ireland and beyond.
The Kilkenny Arts Festival is definitely one of the biggest and most colourful arts festivals in the country so whether you’re an art lover or you just want to soak up the excitement and spectacle of an arts festival, this is one not to be missed!
For more check out the Kilkenny Arts Festival website.
Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival
The Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival is a comedy festival held every year on the June bank holiday weekend. It’s been referred to as ‘The Best Little Festival in the World” and “Ireland’s coolest festival”, but there’s one thing for sure – this festival is sure to have you in stitches!
The Cat Laughs has been running since 1995 and has featured many a world famous comedian – Bill Murray, Lewis Black, Doug Stanhope and Rich Hall who all hail from the States. Famous Irish comedians such as Tommy Tiernan, Dara O Briain, Des Bishop, Karl Spain, Ardal O Hanlon, Jason Byrne and Ed Byrne all grace the stages at the Cat Laughs on a regular basis.
The 2009 festival saw over 60 acts, 80 shows and up to 30,000 spectators!
For more check out the Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival website
Savour Kilkenny Festival
The Savour Kilkenny Festival is the city’s premier food festival and is relatively new on the scene as it’s only in its 3rd year. There’s a vibrant food culture in Kilkenny so there’s no place better to celebrate this passion. This festival is usually held on the October Bank holiday each year and features exquisite dinners, food tasting, wine tasting, baking competitions, cooking demonstrations, a food trail, food markets, celebrity chef cookery classes and a gala dinner. Of course there will also be lots of music and street entertainment.
If this sounds like your kind of festival check out the Savour Kilkenny Festival website
The Rockfall Festival is an annual music festival, which takes on the October Bank Holiday weekend. This festival had meagre beginnings when it started off in 1989 with just 5 bands! The festival has now transformed to become one of the top music festivals in the south east of Ireland and features over 30 acts playing in music venues all over the city. Not only does the Rockfall Festival showcase young up and coming talent in Ireland but all the performers at the festival perform free of charge with all money raised going to charity.
For more on this festival see the Rockfall Festival website
If you want to experience the best of Irish music, song and dance then get yourself to the Kilkenny Celtic Festival. This festival is usually held at the end of September each year and is a celebration of all things Celtic – music, food, songs, traditions, customs and history. There really is nowhere better to celebrate this festival than in the medieval city of Kilkenny with Kilkenny Castle, cathedral, abbeys and meandering streets forming the perfect backdrop. The festival also features street performances, céilís, dance workshops, children’s storytelling and poetry recitals. There’s also a very enjoyable live music trail in the local pubs.
For more visit the Celtic Festival website
Kilkenny Rhythm n’ Roots
The Kilkenny Rhythm N’ Roots Festival usually takes place on the May Bank holiday weekend. This festival started out in 1998 and throughout the years it has attracted some of the finest acts in Americana music such as Ryan Adams, Guy Clarke and Ray La Montagne to name a few. All types of Americana music can be heard over the 4-day festival – country, blues, folk, bluegrass, jazz, soul and rockabilly, so no matter what your taste in music, there’s sure to be something for everyone. The festival has over 80 gigs throughout the weekend, a lot of which are free of charge.
For more visit the Kilkenny Rhythm n Roots Festival
Have you been to any of the festivals above? Why not drop us a line and let us know how what you thought of it?
If you know of any more festivals in Kilkenny, just add them to the comment box below.