Top 10 Things to Do in Kilkenny this St. Patrick’s Weekend

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Prepare to be entertained at this year’s St. Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny! From thrilling Pyro Displays, blending fire art and drumming, to the enchanting Kilkenny Tales & Legends Walking Tour and a range of unique family-centric circus acts, plus an electrifying fireworks display viewed from the grounds of Kilkenny’s majestic castle, this year’s program offers non-stop entertainment throughout the weekend festivities! Live music will play a massive part in the festival with performers as varied as upbeat American marching bands, and trad and folk legends Hothouse Flowers and Shaskeen – it’s all happening this St. Patrick’s weekend in Kilkenny!

St. Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny is supported by Fáilte Ireland (the National Tourism Development Authority of Ireland), and is produced by Kilkenny County Council, to celebrate the unique arts, Irish music, culture and creativity that thrives throughout Kilkenny City and County.

Orla Carroll, Director of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland said: “Fáilte Ireland is delighted to support St. Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny again this year and we look forward to welcoming visitors from all over the world to celebrate the wonderful arts and culture that will be showcased throughout the weekend. Kilkenny, located in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East is over 900 years old and is steeped in medieval history. We are so excited to work with the St. Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny team and to see what a jampacked programme they have developed for both domestic and international visitors to enjoy this year encapsulating the city’s medieval origins as well its myths and legends and the notorious Kilkenny Cats!”

With so much to see and do, and so many things happening around Kilkenny it is the perfect place to be from March 15th to 18th and here are the top 10 things to see and do during St. Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny this year:

1. Pyro Collective Fire Show

A spectacular new Fire Show is coming to town for this year’s St. Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny! Pyro Collective have previously performed at many festivals across Ireland but are performing at this St. Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny for the first time this year. Their energetic show incorporating fire displays and drumming is a sight to behold – join Pyro Collective for this special outdoor event at Kilkenny County Hall on Saturday 16th March at 7.30pm and 9pm!

2. Kilkenny Tales & Legends Evening Walking Tour

Promising to be an entertaining, fun and informative experience with a sprinkle of magic and plenty of Shenanigans! This evening tour is the perfect intro to Kilkenny city, with its ‘Kilkenny Cat’ tales, supernatural history and unique local legends.  Starting on Parliament St., the tour will visit four key stops before concluding at St. Mary’s Lane just in time for the free Kilkenny Tradfest Music Trail pub gig. Running March 14th, 15th, 16th

3. American Marching Bands

Performances by American marching bands have become a highly-prized and anticipated tradition of Kilkenny’s St. Patrick’s festivities, since ‘The Marching Illini’ first played there in 1992. This year the medieval streets of Kilkenny City will be filled with the sounds of top US marching bands including the Olentangy Orange High School Marching Band, who recently played the Hollywood Christmas Parade and Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade, and The West Carolina Marching Band who are often called “the world’s largest funk-rock band,” playing a crowd-pleasing repertoire of up-tempo hits, aswell as Science Hill High School, Lakeville South High Marching Band, The Cherokee Trail High School Band.

4. Steve Stumbles Circus Show

Will bring awesome entertainment – and more than a little silliness – to this year’s festival with a free, ticketed show in the St. Patrick’s Festival Tent, Market Yard.. Lucky leprechaun Mr. Stumbles will be performing a whole range of Magic and Juggling feats to wow and amuse festival-goers of all ages!

5. Kilkenny Tradfest

Famed for its fantastic pubs and venues, Kilkenny is the perfect host for the non-stop Trad and folk music gigs, both free and ticketed, happening as part of Kilkenny Tradfest this St. Patrick’s weekend. Headliners each evening include the Hothouse Flowers, Shaskeen, Nell Ní Chroinín, John Spillane, Clare Sands among many others, who will fill the narrow streets with the full gamut of Irish music along the Bulmers Music Trail.

6. Rhythm Makers Drumming Workshops

The Rhythm Makers Drumming Workshops will provide fun, relaxing and creatively stimulating drumming sessions, tailored to different age-groups, this St. Patrick’s weekend in Kilkenny.  Hosted by Jeremy Hickey, R.S.A.G, these interactive workshops aid in developing unity and listening skills and promote inclusion, reflection and mindfulness – a rewarding activity for any music lover attending St. Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny this year.

7. Fireworks Display

Fireworks Displays are a perennial favourite and visitors to St. Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny can look forward to an extravaganza in the sky this year. Ticket holders will get a prime vantage point in Kilkenny Castle Park for the St. Patrick’s night display..  This spectacle of light against the backdrop of Kilkenny Castle will be a visual feast for all to enjoy!

8. Out Of The Blue

All the way from Turin, the ‘Out Of The Blue’ Interactive Family Circus Show will be top of the to-do list for multi-generational fun on Monday March 18th. This wonderfully subversive and quirky show by leading female clown, Fra Martó, is all about doing the laundry – but don’t worry, Frá makes cleaning so much fun you’ll be happy to join in!

9. Guido Fanzini’s Impossible Circus

A circus tale of sibling rivalry, brotherly love and pogo sticks – we can guarantee you haven’t seen anything quite like Guido Fanzini’s Impossible Circus! Marvel at the awe-inspiring circus tricks that brothers Guido and Ronaldo use to compete for top dog of the family business, which, luckily for festival-goers, just happens to be spreading fun.

10. Try the Pipes & Trad at The Tower with Music Generation Kilkenny

Showcasing local traditional youth talent and giving young people to try traditional Uilleann Pipes, Music Generation are hosting two events on Saturday 16th March.

At 10am Music Generation Kilkenny, in partnership with Na Píobairí Uilleann, is offering a free uilleann pipes taster session to young people (10-18) in the beautiful setting of Rothe House. This is a great opportunity to listen to some accomplished uilleann pipers as well as trying out the instrument with the assistance of an experienced player. Then at 1pm at another historic Kilkenny landmark, St. Canice’s Cathedral Round Tower, young musicians from the Castlecomer Trad Hub will host a special outdoor trad performance with well-loved Irish tunes.


So, if you’re looking to experience the vibrance of Ireland’s national holiday the St. Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny, from March 15th to 18th, has it all! Set against the backdrop of Kilkenny’s medieval streets and 900-year-old castle, this 4 day event offers a unique blend of pageantry, performance, and atmosphere. 

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