Kilkenny Arts Festival X Programme Announcement

July 20, 2020

Kilkenny Arts Festival X Programme Announcement

Taking the first steps to bring audiences and artists back into the same room.

Kilkenny Arts Festival Director Olga Barry today unveiled an exciting series of events which the Festival will present under the title of Kilkenny Arts Festival X. 

Artists and performers will always be at the heart of Kilkenny Arts Festival. Kilkenny Arts Festival X offers the sort of wide-ranging, world-class programme for which the Festival is renowned – including concerts, exhibitions, talks, theatre, film, opera and dance – often presented in innovative new forms.

While in the current circumstances digital content forms a key part of this year’s presentation, it’s clear that audiences and artists share a passion for live experiences where possible, and this exciting programme offers the public opportunities to engage with the Festival in a variety of ways, crucially including bringing audiences back into the room with the artist.

Following the recent government announcement (15 July) delaying the implementation of phase 4, the Festival will release live event tickets based on current restrictions and release further tickets as public health guidelines allow. Audiences may rest assured that delivering these experiences safely, and within government guidelines, is paramount and comprehensive protocols have been put in place throughout the Festival.

Director Olga Barry said today, “As challenging and uncertain as the times we live in are, it’s essential that we make safe ways for artists and audiences to come together in as many different ways as possible. Audiences can access that special Kilkenny magic online, here across our beautiful city at indoor and outdoor exhibitions and installations, and crucially at live performances we’ve made especially for the times we live in.”

This August, audiences will have the opportunity to EXPERIENCE LIVE PERFORMANCES in person including:

  • The world premiere of a major new theatre production Solar Bones, performed by Stanley Townsend and directed by Lynne Parker
  • Eight Seasons, two live concerts from the Irish Chamber Orchestra directed by Katherine Hunka in the glorious setting of St Canice’s Cathedral
  • Bespoke 20-minute performances by members of ICO and Crash Ensemble for individuals or family units to experience on their own
  • A new installation performance, Clouds and Boulders: Mapping Terrain, from choreographer & dancer Luke Murphy

Tickets go on sale this Thursday 23rd July from

VISUAL ARTS and EXHIBITIONS also feature strongly in the programme:

At the new Butler Gallery at Evans’ Home:

  • A landmark new exhibition, The Bloods, by acclaimed photographer Amelia Stein. A striking portrait and visual inventory of members of the Defence Forces based in James Stephens Barracks, Kilkenny
  • An installation presentation of Sam Perkins’ hypnotic music and movement in the film Grey Area by Niall O’Byrne and Sam Curtin, which captures the rhythms and colours of skateboarding to a spectacular soundtrack recorded by Crash Ensemble.

New work made while cocooning by artist Helen Comerford is presented at the Gallery Space at the Watergate Theatre. Covid-19 April Diary was developed during ‘lockdown’ where the artist began a new canvas each day, drawing on the day’s statistics and using a grid system that reflected the sense of confinement, but also protection, that came from cocooning.

Throughout the city of Kilkenny an outdoor sculpture trail CONNECTED beginning at the Castle Yard which will lead you through the city’s key cultural and historic sites accompanied by self-directed workshops and activities for all ages.

These are presented alongside a VIBRANT ONLINE OFFERING where audiences can explore music, visual arts and talks in a digital format.

  • The Secret Music Series is a series of short online concerts, filmed in beautiful Kilkenny locations. A new musical treat will be released online each day of the Festival, featuring Malcolm Proud, Sharon Carty, David Power, Siobhan Armstrong, Dominic Dudley, David Keenan, Laoise O’Brien, Ailbhe Reddy, Mick McAuley and more.
  • A chance to see a filmed performance of the first ever staging in Ireland of Monteverdi’s operatic masterpiece The Return of Ulysses, a 2018 Kilkenny Arts Festival co-production with Opera Collective Ireland.   
  • Follow, live on social media, renowned artist Blaise Smith as he embarks on an ambitious new project to paint portraits of the people of his home village Dungarvan in a project entitled Village People.
  • Intriguing conversations: Masha Gessen (with Fintan O’Toole) and Samantha Power (with Olivia O’Leary)

In September, Kilkenny Arts Festival will launch A Festival Portrait, a bespoke new portal that enables viewers to explore, in their own way the entire collection of Mick O’Dea’s exquisite portraits of Festival artists, completed over 3 years, together with behind-the-scenes documentary of the popular pop-up studios to which audiences were invited. For the first time the website also enables viewers to see the collection of drawings Mick made of Festival performances across the city. Full details to be announced in the coming weeks.

While earlier this summer the difficult decision was taken to cancel the August 2020 Festival, the team has continued to develop this imaginative programme of events in line with the roadmap for reopening Ireland, and within government and public health guidelines.

View Kilkenny Arts Festival X Programme