For forty years, Kilkenny Arts Festival has grown to become one of Europe’s significant artistic celebrations. This year the 41st festival is happening from 8-17 August. As part of its continued evolution the Festival will present a series of projects that range across classical, traditional and contemporary performance. Many of these will be unique collaborations, one-off events and world premieres.

First time Festival Director Eugene Downes says: “Our initial highlights this year include an epic journey through some of the greatest music ever written, the return of one of the world’s leading ensembles to Ireland’s finest courtyard theatre, and the Kilkenny debut of The Gloaming, whose exploration of new musical frontiers has attracted worldwide acclaim. Among our stages are the historic churches, castle, courtyards, houses and gardens of Ireland’s medieval city. When extraordinary artists come together in such intimate conditions, magic can happen.”

This festival is an annual celebration of Kilkenny itself. In the past year the city has won a host of awards and recognition including Europe’s Friendliest City, two Michelin Stars and Ireland’s Cleanest Town.

The festival showcases Irish and international artists in stunning historic spaces and audiences are encouraged to explore the arts and the city itself.

Highlights of the festival announced to date include; The Gloaming with special guests at St Canice’s Cathedral: The Gloaming have been hailed as “one of the greatest Irish acts of their generation” and bring their take on traditional music to St Canice’s Cathedral for their Kilkenny Arts Festival debut. The Gloaming are five outstanding musicians (Thomas Bartlett, Dennis Cahill, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh and Martin Hayes) and they will be joined by a number of surprise special guests on the night. Other highlights include Shakespeare’s Globe taking place at Castle Yard. This act was sold-out in 2012 and 2013. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Company, are one of the world’s finest ensembles and they are gracing the festival with a new production of Much Ado About Nothing, a masterpiece of comic timing and dramatic suspense.

Also at the festival will be Beethoven Quest: The Complete String Quartets and Piano Concertos.

The Complete String Quartets with the Heath Quartet: Beethoven’s complete String Quartets will be performed in ten one-hour concerts throughout the Festival by the Heath Quartet, one of Europe’s most exciting young groups that makes its Carnegie Hall debut later this week. Oliver Heath (violin), Cerys Jones (violin), Gary Pomeroy (viola) and Christopher Murray (cello) will perform in the intimate St John’s Priory venue for this series of lunchtime concerts. (8-17 August)

The Complete Piano Concertos with Barry Douglas (piano/director) and Camerata Ireland: Barry Douglas and his acclaimed ensemble Camerata Ireland return to Kilkenny with a rare cycle of Beethoven’s five piano concertos over two evenings in St Canice’s Cathedral, one of Ireland’s most beautiful medieval buildings.

The full programme for the 2014 Kilkenny Arts Festival will be announced in June 2014. Tickets for these are on sale now at

Kilkenny Arts Festival is core funded by the Arts Council and supported by Fáilte Ireland and Kilkenny Local Authorities.

Learn more about the festival here.