Kilkenny Arts Festival make “First Announcements” for 45th Festival

The full festival programme will be announced in June.

Blending old and new, classic and challenging, the much-loved and the little-known, this year’s Kilkenny Arts Festival presents theatre, music, dance, spoken word, art, design and much more.

The “first announcements” were made on Thursday morning, including a fresh Irish take on Shakespeare’s best-loved comedy, an innovative full staging of a baroque opera, an enchanting series of Brahms chamber works and extraordinary late Beethoven, all making splendid use of Kilkenny’s historic spaces.

This year’s festival runs 9-19 August.

2018 Kilkenny Arts Festival: First Announcements

Shakespeare in the Castle Yard

Always a Festival ‘must see’ and a unique theatrical experience. This year, Rough Magic and the Festival premier a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Lynne Parker, offering outrageous proof that Shakespeare is for life, not just for the Leaving Cert.

Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses

The first staging in Ireland of a baroque masterpiece. Opera Collective Ireland joins forces with the Festival to present Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses, directed by Tony Award-winning director Patrick Mason, featuring the world-renowned early music ensemble Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin conducted by Christian Curnyn, and showcasing many of Ireland’s rising operatic stars, including Raphaela Mangan as Penelope and Gyula Nagy as Ulysses.

Brahms in the Afternoon

A chance to experience some of the great Romantic composer’s most beautiful chamber works at lunchtime in the magical setting of St John’s Priory.

Later Beethoven

An evening series featuring the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Festival’s resident orchestra, which juxtaposes the great composer’s still astonishing works from his later years with thrilling 21stcentury compositions.

New York Time

Acclaimed actor Stephen Rea performing Derek Mahon’s epic poetic sequence in a new musical setting.

“We’re very excited about this programme, and invite everyone to join us in Kilkenny for a fabulous two weeks of art and creativity”, said festival director Eugene Downes on this morning’s announcements.

“Whatever your previous experience of the arts, there’s a welcome for you in Kilkenny this year. There’s something for everyone, young and old, day and evening, indoors and out, with opportunities to experience heart-stopping artworks and world-renowned artists in what I believe are some of the most magical performance spaces in Ireland.”

Tickets for this year’s first announcements went on sale at 1pm via


Ken McGuire

The one who kicked off back in the heady days of 2005. Now a radio head at KCLR, award-winning podcaster, producer, food blogger at Ken On Food, music nerd and everything else in between.

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