Top Headline Acts Performing at Kilkenny Tradfest 2024


The 11th Kilkenny Tradfest promises to be the best yet, with a line-up packed full of both trad legends and young blood. Come and experience the unforgettable energy of the traditional music scene between the 15th and 18th March, coinciding with St. Patrick’s weekend. The festival capitalises on the unique strength of Kilkenny’s hospitality and creative arts-culture to deliver an event which is truly unique and steeped in heritage.

Kilkenny, a medieval city has so many wonderful pubs and venues, too numerous to mention dotted around historic buildings and cobbled streets, so the best advice is to book a ticket for an evening gig and hit the Bulmers Music Trail early in the day. If you get lost, just follow the sound of the music!

To help you plan which gigs to book for Kilkenny Tradfest, here’s our top five picks and whether you’re looking for the perfect pint in a traditional Kilkenny pub or just want to experience everything from live music sessions, sing-alongs, trad and folk and ballads, Kilkenny Tradfest has something for you.

Hothouse Flowers

Kicking off Kilkenny Tradfest, Irish rock group Hothouse Flowers combine traditional Irish music with influences from soul, gospel and rock in the Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel on March 15th. Despite their extensive career, the band approaches each gig with a sense of unfinished business, striving to deliver their best performance yet. Formed in 1985 in Dublin, they started as street performers. Their first album, People (1988), was the most successful debut album in Irish history, reaching No. 1 in Ireland and No. 2 in the UK. Their most recent release, ‘Let’s do this thing’ (2016), sees a return to form and they continue to tour extensively. Fans both old and new will be thrilled by their Kilkenny Tradfest performance which promises to be an electric live show.

Date: Friday 15 March 2024

Venue: Ormonde Hotel (Kings Suite)

Cost: €30.00 + Booking Fee

Clare Sands
& Band

The famous Cleeres Bar and Theatre welcomes Clare Sands on March 15th, a passionate and alluring Cork based multi-instrumentalist creating eclectic and energetic, trad infused popular music. Channelling the music of her ancestors, Clare Sands is a unique force in Irish music. Weaving traditional roots with contemporary sounds and influences, Sands sings for the young and the old, brave and the bold. A 6th generation fiddler & bilingual singer, Sands has been wowing audiences around the world with her groundbreaking fearless folk style and infinite warrior-like energy. An unmissable, raw live performer, she will bring her audience on an exhilarating journey of celebration, resilience and hope.

Date: 15 March 2024

Venue: Cleeres Bar & Theatre

Cost: €15.00 + Booking Fee

John Spillane
& The Band of Wrens

Folk legend, John Spillane and his Band of Wrens, will take the stage at Kyteler’s Inn on Saturday, March 16. John Spillane is a musician, songwriter, performer, recording artist, storyteller, poet and dreamer. Rooted in people, place and story, his music transports the listener and his live performances captivate audiences around the world. After his acclaimed release of 100 Snow White Horses in 2021, in October 2022, John released ‘In Another Light’ a career spanning album recorded live at the Right Here Right Now Festival at Cork Opera House in November 2021.

Date: 16 March 2024

Venue: Kyteler’s Inn

Cost: €20.00 + Booking Fee

with Katie Theasby

Between the jigs, the reels, the songs and the banter at Kilkenny Tradfest, you will not find a contemporary, traditional Irish band to engage with and entertain an audience as brilliantly as Shaskeen and singer Katie Theasby. They’ll be entertaining a live audience in the Pembroke Hotel on March 16th, with a jam-packed and entertaining concert from start to finish. With seven core members, the band has made seventeen records, toured extensively throughout Ireland, UK, all over Europe, and north America, with sold-out venues in parish halls, arts centres, churches and festivals. Shakseen have been lauded and awarded down through the years, on radio, television and across broadsheet pages in various languages. Definitely, one show not to be missed at Kilkenny Tradfest!

Date: 16 March 2024

Venue: Pembroke Hotel

Cost: €20.00 + Booking Fee

Iarla Ó Lionáird
with Cormac McCarthy & Matthew Berrill

Promising to be a very memorable and unique concert in the Set Theatre on March 18th, this is an inspired pairing of twice Grammy nominated vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird with renowned pianist/composer Cormac McCarthy and acclaimed clarinet maestro Matthew Berrill. An exciting, moving and dramatic new ensemble coming together to explore Iarla’s rich and varied repertoire through their compelling transcendent interpretations. Iarla O Lionaird was born into a world of song in Cuil Aodha, a small, Irish-speaking enclave in west Cork. His mother and grandmother were all known singers in the sean nos, unaccompanied style. His grand aunt Elizabeth Cronin was recorded in the 1940s by Alan Lomax, the American archivist of folk and blues. He was one of twelve children of the local schoolmaster, and his brothers and sisters sang, too. As a child, he joined Seán Ó Riada’s choir, first performing publicly at five years of age. Iarla will be supported by Kilkenny Tradfest newcomers – Burnchurch, a four piece group made up of two pairs of brothers

Date: 18 March 2024

Venue: Set Theatre

Cost: €25.00 + Booking Fee

For the full line-up and to book tickets click here.

The special concerts and headline acts of the TradFest programme represent the very best of Irish traditional music and the full 2024 line-up includes: Hothouse Flowers, John Spillane, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Shaskeen, Clancy’s Kitchen, Clare Sands, Burnchurch, Tulla Céilí Band, Pádraig Jack, Breaking Trad, Buíoch, Nell Ní Chrónín, Kilfenora Céilí Band, Leonard Barry Trio and Reel to Reel. 


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