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Join us in the grounds of Carlow College, St. Patrick’s, from Wednesday 7 to Sunday 11 June.

"this year’s programme is vibrant, challenging and full of surprise"

In 2022, our festival programme attracted over 22,500 attendees to a diverse array of events, as we were able to gather in person once more. We are grateful for the crucial and ongoing support of our funders, artists, audiences and participants, year-on-year.

From music to visual and performing arts, theatre, dance, spectacle, literature, and beyond, this year’s programme is vibrant, challenging and full of surprise.

Irish premieres

On stage at VISUAL, we present Irish premieres of three works from European artists who blur the boundaries between artforms; it’s our modest way of celebrating 50 years of EU membership in 2023. From Belgium, Dag Taeldeman’s and Andrew Van Ostade’s electrifying BodyBodyBodyBody is a journey to the edge of trance, rooted in the folk traditions of the Italian tarantella. In MOS, Greece’s Ioanna Paraskevopoulou appropriates seemingly random objects, including bellows, a coconut, and a plunger, to conjure up cinematic soundtracks in a playfully captivating dance. And we present Sorry, But I Feel Slightly Disidentified..., a provocative performance piece created by Benjamin Kahn (France/Belgium) in collaboration with the incredible Dutch performer Cherish Menzo.

Other highlights include Unqualified Design Studio’s Without Sin, a contemporary confessional for the modern sinner that cultivates a space for intimate conversations and 2023’s ARTWORKS in VISUAL, Remembering the Future, which features a complete exhibition of the Irish Names Project’s AIDS Memorial quilts.

Music

At the O’Hara’s Quarter, you can catch some of Ireland’s most acclaimed up-and-coming music artists, including rising Irish hip-hop star Jafaris, folk singer and multi-instrumentalist John Francis Flynn, and the genre-defying Æ MAK on the Main Stage, and the best music talent from County Carlow on the O’Hara’s Live & Local Stage.

Children and young people

Carlow Arts Festival is a welcoming space for children and young people to experience the wonder of the arts, inspiring them to explore their own creativity. We present performances that will ignite imaginations of all ages. Highlights include Bombinate Theatre’s charming show for little ones Goodnight Egg and Wires, Strings & Other Things, a performance that explores the mystery of how musicians compose and improvise.

We are thrilled that Cruinniú na nÓg, Ireland’s national day of creativity for children and young people, again coincides with our festival. We’ve a fantastic programme of free creative activities, both on Saturday and on Sunday. The highlight will be the second Carnival of Collective Joy, co-created with the children of Carlow, which explodes onto the streets of Carlow Town on Saturday.

Community

The carnival is one of a number of projects from our year-round arts participation and community engagement strand ASSEMBLY that comes to fruition at the festival. Through ASSEMBLY, we bring communities and artists together to collaborate on innovative, interdisciplinary arts projects. In 2023, we also present The Long and Short of It, the culmination of a project developed with older community members. This beautiful exhibition of animated stories brings to life deeply personal memories and rich social histories. Other ASSEMBLY events include Cycles: Spokes, a series of discussions about our sense of place within County Carlow and Roots, a space for playful creativity.

"a space for jubilation and concentration, entertainment and reflection"

This year’s programme presents work that is vital and visceral, thoughtful and thought-provoking — as purposeful as it is joyful. We welcome everyone to share in this collective experience, as we seek to open up a space for jubilation and concentration, entertainment and reflection.

The Festival Team

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