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Carlow Arts Festival set to 'burst with creativity' as programme announced

Carlow Arts Festival set to 'burst with creativity' as programme announced

Carlow Arts Festival, the first big cultural event of the Irish Summer, returns this June with a programme bursting with creativity.

Carlow will come alive over five days with a mix of music, visual and performing arts, theatre, dance, spectacle, literature, and more.

Taking place from Wednesday 7th – Sunday 11th June 2023, Carlow Arts Festival is excited to treat audiences to a vibrant and dynamic festival of multidisciplinary arts presented at their festival HQ on the grounds of Carlow College.

Below is what you can expect to see over the five days.


Irish premieres: Festival highlights include Irish premieres of three works by European artists that blur the boundaries between art forms. This is in an attempt to celebrate 50 years of being an EU member.

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 everyday objects, including a pair of bellows and two halves of a coconut, to live-score scenes from zombie horrors, nature docs and classic Westerns.

Sorry, But I Feel Slightly Disidentified... is a provocative performance piece by Benjamin Kahn (France/Belgium) that explores themes of race, gender and status.


Family-Friendly Events: The festival has a packed programme of family-friendly events to ignite the imaginations of all ages.

Highlights include Bombinate Theatre's charming show for little ones, Goodnight Egg, and Wires, Strings & Other Things, an interactive performance that explores the art and mystery of how musicians compose and improvise.

Cruinniú na nÓg, Ireland's national day of free creativity for children and young people, coincides with the festival on Saturday, June 10th, and that afternoon, the second Carnival of Collective Joy, co-created with local children, will explode onto the streets of Carlow Town.

The outdoor cinema also returns on Saturday with a sing-along screening of Encanto.


Music: The O'Hara's Quarter at Carlow College is again the place to catch performances from some of Ireland's most acclaimed up-and-coming music artists over 3 days - including the genre-defying Æ MAK on the Main Stage on the 9th of June, rising Irish hip-hop star Jafaris on June 10th, folk singer and multi-instrumentalist John Francis Flynn on June 11th and the best music talent from County Carlow on the O’Hara’s Live & Local Stage.

Interactive Arts: Carlow College’s Orchard hosts two events where human interaction is at its core.

Without Sin, created by an award-winning international team of designers and theatre makers, is a space that cultivates intimate conversations among friends and strangers.

You enter a private confessional, alone. Someone else enters next door. Guided by light, sound, and a shared hymn sheet, you make a story together about change, loss, and redemption.

Also in the Orchard, Poetry Ireland presents Poetry SOS, a  bespoke one-to-one consultation with a poet who will prescribe a poem from ‘Vital Signs’, an anthology of courageous responses to experiences of illness and healing.

Community Collaboration: ASSEMBLY is Carlow Arts Festival’s year-round arts participation and community engagement strand and several of its projects come to fruition at the festival.

The exhibition, The Long and Short of It is the culmination of a year-long project developed with older community members (65+).

Participants collaborated with writer Darren Donohue, director Janice de Bróithe, artist Paul Bokslag, and animator and sound designer Seán Parnell to create animated stories inspired by their community’s social histories.

Voiced by the participants, these beautiful papercut animations bring to life deeply personal and evocative memories.

Other ASSEMBLY events include Cycles: Spokes, a series of discussions and workshops about language and our sense of place within County Carlow, which includes a sean-nós workshop with the acclaimed singer Inni-K, and Roots Shop, a workshop space for playful creativity.

Visual Art and Artworks 2023: World-class visual art features strongly in this year’s programme.

This year's ARTWORKS exhibition ‘Remembering the Future’ launches as part of the festival in VISUAL on June 8th and features work that explores memory and imagination as utopian tools for dreaming different worlds and for preserving the past.

‘Remembering the Future’ includes the first complete gallery exhibition of the Irish Names Project’s AIDS Memorial quilts.

The Artworks exhibition includes invited and commissioned works along with Irish and international artists selected through VISUAL and Carlow Arts Festival’s annual ARTWORKS Open Call.

‘Remembering the Future’ runs in VISUAL until the end of August.

Announcing details of the 2023 programme, Carlow Arts Festival’s Artistic Director & CEO Benjamin Perchet said: This year’s Carlow Arts Festival programme presents artists’ work that is vital and visceral, thoughtful and thought-provoking — as purposeful as it is joyful. We welcome everyone from Carlow and beyond to share in this collective experience, as we seek to open up a space for jubilation and concentration, entertainment and reflection.

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