Travelling on a budget? Looking for fun things to do that won’t break the bank? Kilkenny has so much to see and do for free right around the county. Covering everything from outdoor activities to arts and heritage, you can plan a full itinerary with things that won’t have you reaching for your pocket.
Here are 12 things to do for free in Kilkenny.
One of the most impressive things that you can do for free in Kilkenny is to visit Butler Gallery. Located in the historic refurbished Evans’ Home, it showcases modern and contemporary art with a particular focus on Irish artists. Throughout the year, there are permanent and limited exhibitions, workshops and even live music in the garden.
Kilkenny Famine Experience
County Kilkenny is full of history and Kilkenny Famine Experience is a powerful retelling of a key event in Irish history, housed in MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre – the site of the Kilkenny Union Workhouse. Take this self-led audio-visual tour at your own pace and hear the incredible and heartbreaking stories from the famine period.
MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre’s personal shopping service
Another free service that you can avail of in MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre is a session with their expert personal shopper. Karen Morrissey has worked in the fashion industry for many years and a consultation with her can help you to find the perfect piece for a special occasion or figure out what your style is.
Walking & cycling trails
In recent years, walking trails have become a very popular way of getting back to nature and exploring the local area. We are spoiled with so many wonderful walking trails in Kilkenny. Prefer to roam on two wheels? Bring your bike and pedal along excellent cycling trails. For more information on trails, visit TrailKilkenny.ie.
Castlecomer Discovery Park
*entry to the car park costs €5
If you’re visiting with little tikes, a trip to Castlecomer Discovery Park is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Both the Timber Tumblers Playground and the Elf and Fairy Village are free to explore. Set in 80 acres of woodland, you can also discover the trails and paths throughout the park and around the lake. Drop by the craft yard on-site to see a variety of artists at work.
St. Mary’s Cathedral
Bishop of Ossory William Kinsella ordered the building of St. Mary’s Cathedral in 1774 and it remains a key location in Kilkenny today. The beautiful Gothic cathedral has a unique tower that stands at a height of 186 feet and features an altar of Italian marble. It is worth visiting just to see the main focal point of the cathedral: the stunning stained glass windows.
Kilkenny Castle rose garden & parklands
Situated in the heart of the city is the iconic Kilkenny Castle. The castle parklands offer a relaxing setting against the hustle and bustle of the city with over 50 acres of charming grounds to be explored. There is also a playground on the grounds which is suitable for ages 2-14. The Rose Garden to the front of the castle offers spectacular views over the city and it is a firm favourite for both visitors and locals. Be sure to check their website for seasonal opening hours.
National Design and Craft Gallery
Across the street from Kilkenny Castle in the former stable courtyard is the home of Irish craft – The National Design and Craft Gallery. It is a permanent exhibition space for craft in Kilkenny and there is a continuous dynamic exhibition programme that is open to the public. It provides a unique opportunity to walk around the Castle Yard and watch artists and craftspeople at work.
It is free to visit Jerpoint Glass during workshop hours to watch the skilled glassblowers in their element. Learn about the fascinating process of glassblowing and watch as they transform molten glass into delicate glassware where each piece is hand-finished.
Medieval Mile Museum
Take a free guided tour around St. Mary’s graveyard, located on the grounds of the Medieval Mile Museum. Some of the most important families from the medieval period are laid to rest here. Learn about the tradition of burial and funeral practices throughout the centuries. You may even get to visit the Bryan Family Vault – not for the faint hearted!
Woodstock Gardens & Arboretum
*entry to the car park costs €5
Overlooking the stunning valley in Inistioge, Woodstock Gardens & Arboretum is a tranquil escape. The gardens are home to a mix of formal and informal gardens with an arboretum, walled garden, terraced garden, yew walk and rose garden. Also of significance are two stunning avenues, Monkey Puzzle Avenue and Noble Fir Avenue, which are lined with towering trees. Be sure to check their website for seasonal opening hours.
Live music at pubs
Kilkenny and live music go hand in hand, so you’re never far from a gig. Pop into any pub or bar and you’re bound to find local musicians and DJs playing traditional Irish music and the top hits. Some locations even have live music 7 days a week! To see what’s on, please check the individual pub’s website or social media pages for the latest.