The Kilkenny Arts Festival was founded 40 years ago this August by a group of classical music enthusiasts, and has continued to grow in its draw, reach, and prestige of performances ever since.
For 10 days each August, the medieval city located in the South-East of Ireland comes alive with a feast of artistic entertainment across a range of mediums, including theater, dance, many genres of music, literature, and the visual arts.
The first-ever festival included a reading by Seamus Heaney, who was little-known at the time but held the audience spellbound. Other participants from the start included Bernadette Greevy, Robert Ballagh, Louis Le Brocquy and Norah McGuinness. Over the years, the festival has continued to welcome an illustrious list of guests across the art forms.
As the festival celebrates its 40th anniversary, 28,000 attendees are expected in Kilkenny from August 9 – 18. In anticipation of high demand, booing is already open for some of the headliner events.
Speaking at an announcement of the first festival highlights Rosemary Collier, Festival Director said, “For 40 years, Kilkenny Arts Festival – or arts week as it was formerly known – has played such an important role in the cultural life of this country and is an integral part of Irish summers. To mark our 40th Festival we hope to celebrate the legacy of eclectic programming that has been presented at Kilkenny down through the years.”
A number of artists who have been part of the Kilkenny Festival in the past will return this year, including author Colm Tóibín. Irish pianist Barry Douglas, with his ensemble Camerta Ireland, will play a program of works celebrating composer Benjamin Britten.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Company (UK) will return with an all-female production of The Taming of the Shrew.
Grammy Award-winning classical singer Dawn Upshaw will give her first solo concert in Ireland, and dance company Junk Ensemble will perform the world premiere of its specially commissioned piece Dusk Ahead.
The Kilkenny Arts Festival Choir, which has performed every summer throughout the festival’s 40 years, will bring together 100 Irish and international singers from more than 20 countries for a special performance of Carmina Burana.
Visit www.kilkennyarts.ie for tickets and further information.