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The Programme for the 45th Carlow Arts Festival is Announced

Over 80 specially curated events will take place as part of the 45th annual Carlow Arts Festival June 5th-9th. Image: stock

The programme for the 45th annual Carlow Arts Festival 2024 has been officially unveiled. Join the celebrations from Wednesday, June 5th, to Sunday, June 9th, as Carlow Town takes centre stage with an eclectic array of over 80 thoughtfully curated events. Experience a multi-disciplinary arts programme including dance, literature, circus, spectacle, music, theatre, cinema, and visual arts, offering something for everyone to enjoy. This year’s opening night performance will feature a joyous outdoor interactive show, called “Pelat” by Spanish artist Joan Català, on the grounds of Carlow College. 

One of this year's flagship events is an immersive spectacle – part street theatre, part adventure, part circus show - specially created with and for the people of Carlow titled “First Light”. This ambitious show will transport participants on a mesmerising journey through both indoor and outdoor spaces to an alternate reality within a mystical town. Created through a unique partnership with Asylum Productions, this innovative performance promises to captivate all who attend. 

This year’s programme was officially announced by the festival's artistic director Benjamin Perchet. Speaking ahead of the festival Perchet encouraged both locals and visitors alike to come and be inspired:

“Storytelling emerges as a predominant theme in this year's program” explains Perchet. “The Irish have a unique way of narrating tales that are rich in exaggerations, fantasy, and dramatic flair. Carlow Arts Festival 2024 will showcase stories through a variety of mediums from music and spoken word to comedy and contemporary dance. Aindrias De Stac's show "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" will transport you through ancient Irish stories, while "Tell Dad" by Bush Hartshorn offers a one-to-one encounter to share your own personal stories. An Irish proverb mentions that those who travel have the best stories to share, and we are thrilled to feature contributions from our local Polish, African, and Traveller communities, along with exciting contributions from a host of top international performance artists. I invite everyone to come and be inspired.”

Programme Highlights


The O’Hara’s Big Top, located in the grounds of Carlow College, is the prime venue for experiencing live music throughout the festival week. Festivities kick off on Thursday, June 6th, with the "Opening Night Gathering", featuring a free concert showcasing FĒNIX, the solo music project of Carlow native Darragh O'Connor. Also gracing the stage that night are folk-pop musician and storyteller Just Alice, as well as emerging folk and country performer Kendal Moody. The festival is excited to present Dublin indie rock five-piece Basht. as the headliners for Saturday night, June 8th. Known for their acclaimed new EP "Dirty White Lies" and their electrifying live performances, Basht. have been astonishing audiences across Ireland and the UK. Elsewhere, local music producers Fiach Moriarty and Walter Hennessy, the creative minds behind Carlow Love & Local, are programming a music strand highlighting numerous local acts including performances from Eric de Buitléir, Danny Carthy and Tumbling Dice. As night falls on Friday, June 7th, the dynamic duo known as CnC, composed of Dave Caffrey and Pablo C, will keep the party alive with classic 90’s Dance music. They will be joined by ASH, known for his atmospheric, rhythmic twist on Techno and House mixes. The following evening, on Saturday, June 8th, guests can revel in euphoric dance beats by SNKY Sessions with support from Electric Picnic favourite DJ Hippyhun. 

Dublin indie rock five-piece Basht. will headliners Saturday night, June 8th of the Carlow Arts Festival 2024.

Spoken Word, Comedy & Talks

The Yurt is a brand-new venue for the 2024 festival. Showcasing the work of Carlow comedians, musicians, lecturers, poets, and more: the “Shite Talk Podcast”, hosted by Kevin Larney and Jason Brennan, is set to present a live show focusing on Irish History. The event will include retellings of Irish historical events, as well as downright silly tales from the past. Comic Justin Kelly will perform “Prince Charming 80’s Idol”, a hilarious nostalgic journey to the era of big hair, bright colours, and shoulder pads. Known for his dry humour and wry observations, Shannon Basso Gaule will debut his first comedy solo show titled “Lost in Translation.” Spoken word artist Barry Fitzgerald will present his new show "Mourning is a Muscle," delving into themes of connection, grief, and queerness.  Jolly O'Rock and her troupe of Carlow residents perform a special show of music, dance, and storytelling, over the course of the show the AHA Storytellers will share the culture and folklore of Africa in a fun, interactive, and educational way. In another event, Clifton Redmond will host an intimate evening of poetic discovery, featuring local poets sharing the stage.  

Circus, Theatre and Pop-up performances

Drawing inspiration from icons of the silent film era such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Laurel and Hardy, the Irish premiere of "Smashed to Pieces" by esteemed French performers Pierre Meunier and Raphaël Cottin promises a laughter-filled extravaganza. Adding to the excitement of this year's festival is the Irish premiere of "Llabyellov Goes Outside" by French-Italian artist Carlo Cerato. This performance features five captivating juggling solos involving sticks, rings, balls, feathers, ice creams, pinwheels, and origami papers, all presented in a specially crafted transparent, inflatable cube, set within the beautiful surroundings of Carlow College. "The Games We Play" is a must see show by UK artists Gandini Juggling offering a delightful escape into a realm of mesmerising juggling and choreography. Carlow-based choreographer Róisín Whelan presents “Íomhá” (meaning 'reflections') - a series of outdoor pop-up performances suitable for all ages throughout the day on Sunday.

Encounter, Visual Art and Installation 

A unique performance called "Tell Dad" offers a personalised experience with Bush Hartshorn in the serene setting of Carlow College’s Orchard. Attendees are encouraged to share their thoughts, memories, sorrows, and love. The Snug, an immersive installation, delves into places of dialogue in modern Ireland. It will feature small-scale showcases, workshops, and discussions on craftsmanship, architecture, and design. Additionally, at VISUAL, artist Ulla von Brandenburg will showcase a solo exhibition in the Main Gallery. This exhibition titled “Behind the Curtain” also comprises commissioned and invited artworks, along with pieces from Irish and international artists chosen through VISUAL and Carlow Arts Festival's annual Open Call

Events for Children & Families 

This year's Festival presents a diverse selection of specially curated workshops and events tailored for both children and families. Now in its third year, the “Carnival of Collective Joy” returns to the streets of Carlow with more wild and wonderful creatures in a celebration of the imagination of school children across County Carlow. The show “A Suburban Legend” by Caitríona Ní Mhurchú draws on ancient myths to transport children on a magical adventure. Children can learn new dance skills through complimentary dance workshops led by esteemed choreographer Roisin Whelan, alongside the presentation of “The Galaxy of Occupations”, her imaginative dance duet for children aged 6-10. They can also discover the art of drumming with free Samba Drumming workshops presented by Rhythm Riot, or explore the world of juggling at the circus skills workshop facilitated by Fadi and Juliet Zmorrod. Equal Chances Polish School aims to promote intercultural exchange through art activities and Polish dance performances. Furthermore, a designated Chill Zone has been established to provide a peaceful retreat for children with additional needs. In celebration of their 10th anniversary, Music Generation Carlow, a renowned youth music ensemble, will host a special concert. Additionally, the festival's outdoor cinema club is scheduled to feature screenings of popular Irish films Wolfwalkers and An Cailín Ciúin.

Carlow Arts Festival 2024 will take place from Wednesday, June 5th, to Sunday, June 9th. Many events are free but booking is required. A Music Pass is available granting access to all music events with a day pass priced at €15 and a weekend pass priced at €35. See

Carlow Arts Festival would not be possible without the support of our funders The Arts Council and Carlow County Council. Principal Sponsor O’Hara’s Craft BeersCorporate Partners and Sponsors include Estrella Galicia 0 0, Carlow Credit Union, Dooley Motors, Talbot Hotel Carlow.

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