Things To Do in Kilkenny: Exploring the Charming Mediaeval County
Updated On: September 12, 2023
Kilkenny is a landlocked county located in southeastern Ireland. It is a vibrant and historic region known for its rich cultural heritage and charm. A visit here is like an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life into tranquillity.
In this article, we’ll explore some things to do in Kilkenny, from exploring ancient castles to immersing yourself in the local culture. Kilkenny is a destination full of activities and attractions just waiting for you to visit.
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What is Kilkenny famous for?
Kilkenny is primarily famous for being a charming mediaeval town in Ireland and home to the famous Kilkenny Castle. It is also recognised for its historical landmarks and sporting achievements in hurling and Gaelic.
Best Things To Do in Kilkenny
If you happen to be visiting the county soon, be sure to check out these attractions and amazing things to do in Kilkenny. We’ve put together an extensive list ensuring that you can find something that appeals to your interests and hobbies.
Kilkenny Castle is a prominent mediaeval castle located in the heart of Kilkenny City. This 12th-century castle stands majestically on a strategic site on the banks of the River Nore, and its iconic towers and turrets make it one of the most recognizable landmarks in Ireland.
The castle also boasts extensive parklands and gardens, providing a picturesque backdrop. The beautifully landscaped gardens feature manicured lawns, flower beds, and a serene lake. Visitors can take leisurely walks through the castle gardens, enjoying the peaceful ambience and scenic views.
Kilkenny Castle is open to the public and offers guided tours that provide insights into its history, architecture, and the lives of the Butler family. It stands as a testament to the city’s mediaeval heritage and provides a captivating glimpse into Ireland’s rich history.
St. Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower
St. Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower is a significant historical and religious site in Kilkenny. It is officially known as the Cathedral Church of St. Canice and is dedicated to Saint Canice, the patron saint of Kilkenny.
Adjacent to the cathedral is the Round Tower of St. Canice’s, which was built in the 9th century, the tower stands at around 30 metres (100 feet) tall and is one of only two such towers in Ireland that can be climbed by the public.
Climbing the Round Tower of St. Canice’s offers panoramic views of Kilkenny City and its surrounding countryside. It is a unique and rewarding experience that allows visitors to appreciate the architectural and historical significance of the tower and enjoy breathtaking vistas from the top.
Take a stroll along the Medieval Mile in Kilkenny, which is a historic stretch of the city’s mediaeval centre. You can admire the mediaeval buildings, including the Black Abbey, Rothe House, and St. Mary’s Cathedral, and soak in the mediaeval atmosphere of a world gone in Ireland.
Indoor Things to do in Kilkenny
On days of rain and drizzle, hiking around Kilkenny may not seem that ideal, but not to worry, there are plenty of things to do in Kilkenny whilst being indoors, check them out below!
Kilkenny Design Centre
Discover the work of local artisans and designers at the Kilkenny Design Centre. It showcases a wide range of local Irish crafts, including jewellery, pottery, textiles, and more. A great spot to pick up a gift for yourself or someone else.
Nicholas Mosse Pottery
Enter the world of Irish pottery at the Nicholas Mosse Pottery workshop and store. Here you can witness the traditional methods of pottery production and browse through their unique handcrafted ceramics.
Festivals in Kilkenny Ireland
Kilkenny is also renowned for the many festivals that it hosts throughout the year, which is the perfect chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of the county and its people. Check out some annual festivals in Kilkenny that you can attend.
Kilkenny Arts Festival
Kilkenny Arts Festival is an annual cultural event that showcases a diverse range of artistic disciplines, including music, theatre, dance, visual arts, literature, and more.
The festival attracts renowned national and international artists, performers, and writers who present their works in various venues across the city. Audiences can enjoy a vibrant program of concerts, plays, exhibitions, workshops, and discussions, creating a dynamic and immersive cultural experience.
Cat Laughs Comedy Festival
The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival is an annual comedy event held in Kilkenny, Ireland. Established in 1995, it has become one of the country’s premier comedy festivals. The festival attracts a lineup of top-notch local and international comedians who perform in various venues throughout the city.
Audiences can expect a hilarious and diverse program of stand-up comedy, improv shows, panel discussions, and comedy showcases. The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival offers laughter-filled entertainment, providing a platform for established and emerging comedians to showcase their talent.
Things to do in Kilkenny for Kids
There are many activities that the little ones will enjoy doing in Kilkenny, it’s a great spot for a family trip and you’ll be sure to create some memorable moments with your loved ones. Check out things to do in Kilkenny for kids below!
The National Reptile Zoo
The National Reptile Zoo in Kilkenny is Ireland’s only dedicated reptile zoo and an educational centre focused on reptiles and amphibians. It provides visitors with the opportunity to learn about and interact with a diverse range of reptiles from all around the world.
Both adults and kids can join in on guided tours that are led by knowledgeable staff members who provide information about the various reptiles. Some of the animals you may come across include snakes, lizards, turtles, crocodiles, and more.
The River Nore is a prominent river that flows through the city of Kilkenny. It is cherished for its natural beauty and features scenic walkways and parks, providing opportunities for leisurely strolls and picnics.
Here you can enjoy the many recreational activities on offer, and bring the whole family along on a boat trip, river tour, kayaking adventure or canoeing experience. A truly unique way to experience Irelans’s waterways.
Things to do in Kilkenny Activities
If you’re seeking an active trip to Kilkenny, then check out these activities and experiences that you can get up to. They welcome visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture and heritage of the region.
The Kilkenny Way
The Kilkenny Way is an immersive cultural experience that offers visitors the opportunity to learn about and engage in traditional Irish sports, primarily hurling, in the city of Kilkenny. It provides a unique insight into the rich sporting heritage and cultural traditions of Ireland.
Kilkenny Cycling Tours
Join a guided cycling tour and explore the city and its surroundings on two wheels. It’s a great way to see the sights and learn about Kilkenny’s history from knowledgeable guides, whilst having fun on a bike.
Learn about the brewing heritage of Kilkenny at the Smithwick’s Experience. Here you can take a tour of the brewery, explore its history, and finish off with a sample of some of the famous brews.
Want to explore more of Ireland? If so be sure to check out:
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