Festival Guide to Kilkenny

Kilkenny is home to some of the best and quirkiest festivals in the world. From the Subtitle Film Festival to mega music events, epic live performances at the Arts Festival to Economics, extraordinary stand up shows to Kilkenny Animated, the schedule just keeps getting better.

TradFest - Kilkenny's Traditional Irish Music festival

Come to Kilkenny for craic agus ceol at TradFest, the epicenter of St Patrick’s Day. The festival offers an incredible mix of live music performances from some of the country’s most influential and acclaimed musicians, as well as a series of workshops, masterclasses and parades, in what has become one of Ireland’s largest traditional music festivals.

It’s a four-day feast of both traditional and folk music, song and dance with concerts from Ireland’s top musicians, free open air music, family activities, céilís and much more in and around Kilkenny City.

Kilkenny Roots Festival

Kilkenny Roots Festival is a one of a kind event and now an international institution, having attracted some of the finest names in the Americana/Folk-Roots movement since its establishment in 1998.

Visitors wind their way through 30 plus venues, sampling a huge range of music from 40 Irish and international acts, with over 90 ticketed and free shows throughout Kilkenny’s medieval streets. From swing to bluegrass, rockabilly to folk, blues and beyond, the programme features a mixture of old and new, to cater to all tastes.

Cat Laughs

Kilkenny’s Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, which falls on the June bank holiday weekend, boasts a fine legacy of world-class comedy and is one of the best ways to kick start summer. Featuring the very best line up of Irish and international talent, this comic event is now an internationally acclaimed festival that’s filled to the brim with rib-tickling jokes and outstanding wit.

Savour Kilkenny

Now in its 13th year, Savour Kilkenny food festival is the ultimate celebration of food with a programme that embraces artisan producers and restaurateurs to food agencies and food farmers.

Savour Village is a food haven which features mouth watering culinary delights and tempting food stalls, celebrity chef appearances and demonstrations, workshops, competitions and unique dining events. For those who enjoy discovering new brands, new foods, and new ways of cooking, this is one culinary scene really worth savouring!

Don’t forget… Kilkenny was crowned the best Foodie Destination in Ireland for 2018 by the Restaurants Association of Ireland.

Kilkenomics

Kilkenomics is Europe’s first festival of economics and comedy, and if you’re a TED Talks fan, this will be right up your alley. The festival brings together notable economists, financial analysts and media commentators along with some of the world’s funniest and sharpest stand-up comedians to create informal yet entertaining formats, designed to engage and inform.

Thought provoking shows include topics covering everything from Brexit and Trump to entrepreneurs and AirBnB. The festival even features its own currency known as ‘the marble.

Yulefest

Yulefest is one of Ireland’s brightest Christmas festivals, featuring a jam packed schedule of events, attractions and entertainment in culture, art and all things festive.

Stroll down Kilkenny’s medieval streets, sipping hot chocolates and mulled wine whilst soaking in the lights and atmosphere. Or partake in one of the many active outdoor pursuits, like ice-staking and a lights show, before being entertained by various cultural and arts performances.

There are a number of magical Santa experiences throughout city and county, from Castlecomer to MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre. The beauty of Yulefest is that it offers something for every age and quest, and is guaranteed to create memories to last a lifetime.

Subtitle Spotlight European Film Festival

For movie lovers and cinemagoers, Kilkenny’s Subtitle Spotlight European Film Festival is Ireland’s only film festival of popular subtitled European films. The festival features a fantastic line-up of filmmakers, casting directors, actors, and movies that have never been screened theatrically in Ireland.

From the provocative and smart to the funny and accessible, the Subtitle Film Festival brings together a feast of films bursting with talent, which will leave you seeing the big screen in a whole new light.

Kilkenny has developed an eclectic and diverse food and tourism offering which includes top quality gastro pub food, a wide range of Irish and international food offerings and even Michelin star restaurants. Enhanced food offerings include food trails, whiskey tasting nights, producer visits, cooking classes and distillery and brewery tours.

― Zack Gallagher

Explore

In this article

Kilkenomics Festival

Subtitle European Film Festival

Tradfest

Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival

Savour Kilkenny Festival

Recommended Experiences

5 Insta-Perfect Kilkenny Locations

A Magical Woodland Christmas

Castle Curiosities

Kilkenny – so much to tour and explore within walking distance

Kilkenny, a great location for Solo Explorers

Night Time Vibrance

The Kilkenny Arts Festival

The Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival

Kilkenomics Festival

Kilkenny City

056 7763837

[email protected]

kilkenomics.com/

2018 will mark the 9th edition of Kilkenomics - Europe’s first economics festival - which brings together some of the world’s leading economists, financial analysts and media commentators with some of our funniest, sharpest standup comedians. We’ve been called “Davos with jokes” and we wouldn’t disagree with that assessment. Our informal, entertaining formats invite our audiences to engage and enjoy. As we like to say: it’s serious, but it’s fun too! Jump into Kilkenomics now and engage with as many shows as possible, equip yourself with the information and insight we hope can help us all make smart choices for our futures - inform and entertain yourselves. People who have taken part in previous years include David McWilliams (co-founder of the festival), Constantin Gurdgiev, Max Keiser, Gillian Tett, Rory Sutherland, Linda Yueh and Yanis Varoufakis.

Subtitle European Film Festival

The festival brings together a selection of European films that invites you to see cinema in a whole new way. Many of the films in the 2017 festival have never been screened theatrically in Ireland and 15 of them are Irish premieres; highlights for this year include a special VIP preview of Aku Louhimies’s epic film UNKNOWN SOLDIER, which has already smashed box office records in Finland; Valery Todorovsky’s terrific drama, BOLSHOI (he will be in Kilkenny to present both screenings), Alexei Uchitel’s lavish new picture, MATILDA and Tonie Marshall’s outstanding new film, NUMBER ONE (she will be in Kilkenny too). For our 2017 edition, we are presenting 29 films. We have a terrific collection of thrillers, dramas and comedies from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, The Netherlands, Russia, Georgia and Bulgaria. We are very excited about the mix of movies available and we are confident that there’s something on offer for all tastes. There will be over 200 guests in Kilkenny for the festival, including over 50 brilliant European actors and some of the finest casting directors on the planet.

Tradfest

Burrell's Hall, St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny

083 8722444

[email protected]

kilkennytradfest.com

Kilkenny TradFest showcases the best of Irish traditional music, in a variety of unique venues across Kilkenny city. Held across St.Patrick’s Day weekend, the festival is accessible to everyone, with both free and ticketed events. Join Tradfest to see world-class acts, fantastic traditional Irish musicians and bands, as well as all of the St. Patrick’s Festivities including the Parade. There are events for all ages, with the TradTrail, music & dance workshops, family activities and more.

Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival

Kilkenny City

056 7763837

[email protected]

thecatlaughs.com

Kilkenny Cat Laughs is Ireland’s annual craic pilgrimage, and has been heralding the start of the summer season since 1995. Now in it’s 24th edition, the festival has played host over the years to international and domestic world class comedy and is renowned for treating both talent and audience to a warm, welcoming and convivial atmosphere in Kilkenny, at the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East. Cat Laughs has a reputation for being the comedians’ comedy festival, and for creating an atmosphere where anything can happen. Over the years the festival has nurtured the fledgling careers of Irish acts like Dara Ó Briain, Aisling Bea, Graham Norton, Dylan Moran, Maeve Higgins, Ardal O’Hanlon, Joanne McNally, Deirdre O’Kane, David O’Doherty, Des Bishop and many, many more. We have also welcomed international luminaries like Bill Murray, Zach Galifianakis, Laura Kightlinger, Bill Burr, George Wendt, Ross Noble, Peter Kay, Bill Bailey, Tig Notaro, Emo Philips and Sarah Millican among others. In 2017, Matt Smyth and Dan Colley of Collapsing Horse Theatre took over the reins as Artistic Directors, bringing some of their own comedy influences onboard and and building on the fine legacy of the festival. They take the helm again in 2018 and look forward to combining the best in comedy standup with new names in the world of improv, sketch, podcasts and more. Roll on summer!

Savour Kilkenny Festival

Kilkenny City

083 8722444

[email protected]

savourkilkenny.com

The Savour Kilkenny Festival is the city’s premier food festival and is relatively new on the scene. 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.