Hinterland Festival 2023: Embracing Creativity at Kells

Welcome to the vibrant and enchanting town of Kells, nestled in the heart of County Meath, Ireland. As summer approaches, anticipation builds for the upcoming Hinterland Festival 2023. This highly anticipated event promises to celebrate arts, literature, music, and culture, attracting artists, writers, musicians, and enthusiasts from near and far. In this blog post, we will delve into the festival’s details, exploring its rich history, captivating venues, and exciting lineup. Get ready to immerse yourself in a world of creativity, inspiration, and community spirit!

A Multifaceted Celebration 

The 11th edition of the Hinterland Festival of Literature & Arts welcomes some of Ireland’s most talented writers, musicians,  artists and thinkers to Kells, County Meath from 22 – 25 June 2023. 

This year’s festival programme features more than 50 events taking place over the weekend including interviews, workshops, theatrical performances, street art, live music and Ireland’s very own Lit Crawl – a series of smaller, intimate venues where emerging writers and artists showcase their work.

The Hinterland Festival was established in 2013 in a collaboration between the Hay Literary Festival and the Hay / Kells Festival. In 2017, the name was changed to Hinterland and the festival has since grown to encompass a variety of events. Hinterland is a multidisciplinary arts festival annually in the historic town of Kells, Co. Meath, Ireland. 

The festival aims to bring visitors to the town to experience the journey of pilgrims past, and to stimulate discussion, debate, reflection and imagination about the current state of the world and the possibilities for the future. The festival spans several days, ensuring that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a literature enthusiast, a music lover, or an art connoisseur, you’ll find plenty to engage your senses and inspire your imagination.

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Image via meathchronicle.ie

For bookworms and wordsmiths, the festival boasts a stellar lineup of renowned authors, poets, and storytellers. Attendees can look forward to captivating talks, thought-provoking panel discussions, and engaging workshops that delve into various literary genres and themes. From historical fiction to contemporary poetry, the literary program has something for every taste, providing a platform for both established and emerging voices in the literary world.

The stellar lineup includes – Adrian Duncan, Joseph O’Connor, John Boyne, crime fiction queens Liz Nugent, Jane Casey and Sam Blake, Riverdance composer Bill Whelan and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford.

The festival will also feature Zak Moradi, an Irish-Kurdish hurler, former RTE stars Eileen Dunne and Tommie Gorman, journalist Fintan O’Toole, and the Caribbean’s most money-smart Dub Santis O’Garro.

Hindsight: A History Stream (Thursday and Friday) will explore the decade of centenaries through the perspectives of Ireland’s most prominent historians, with a special focus on the role of women in the history of the country. The stream will feature the contributions of three of Ireland’s leading historians, Catriona Crow-Rowe, Liz Gillis, and Ronan McGreevy.

hinterland festival

Image via twitter/HinterlandKells

Other Literary Delights

Hinterland is also home to a variety of kids’ events, including interactive workshops, reading opportunities, a Famous Five-themed treasure hunt through the town’s shop windows, and a performance by internationally renowned Irish folk singer, Lisa Lambe, launching her new project ‘NightVisiting’, in which she teams up with world-renowned traditional musicians and local contributors to bring a truly one-of-a-kind show to life in the stunning St.Columba’s churchyard.

Hinterland Lit Crawl, on the other hand, is typically an evening event where participants can explore multiple literary readings and performances in various venues within a specific area. Lit Crawl often involves moving from one location to another, such as bars, cafes, or bookstores, to experience different readings or performances in an informal and social setting. The Lit Crawl event is free, with entry on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. The Lit Crawl programme is subject to updates and additions, so please check the official festival website for more information.

The first Lit Crawl event was held as part of the large-scale Litquake Literary Festival in San Francisco in the year 2004. Since then, Lit Crawl events have been held in many other cities across the US and Europe, such as New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles, as well as in Helsinki and London. Over the last few years, Lit Crawl has become one of the most popular ways of concluding Hinterland weekends.

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Image via discoverireland.ie

The Historic Setting

With its ancient monastic settlement and rich heritage, Kells provides the perfect backdrop for the Hinterland Festival. Steeped in history and mythology, this town captivates visitors with its picturesque landscapes, quaint streets, and impressive landmarks. The festival’s organisers have expertly incorporated Kells’ historical charm into the event, creating a unique atmosphere that transports attendees to a bygone era. From the iconic Kells High Crosses to the majestic Kells Round Tower, every corner of the town breathes history, adding a touch of magic to the festival experience. More things to enjoy include watching Bloody Yesterday at Kells Courthouse Tourism & Cultural Hub, Kells Arts Club: Celebrating Bloomsday at Bookmarket Café, Market St., Kells, Kells TypeTrail, The Lloyd Restaurant and more.

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Image via twitter/BOOKMARKETcafe

As the Hinterland Festival 2023 approaches, the excitement in Kells, Co. Meath, Ireland, is palpable. With its rich history, captivating venues, and diverse program, this festival promises to be a memorable experience for all attendees. From literary discussions that ignite the imagination to music performances that stir the soul, the Hinterland Festival invites visitors to immerse themselves in the creative tape.

Luvya Bhatia
Luvya Bhatia

An upcoming M.Sc. Communication and Media student at University College Dublin, with a B.A. (Honours) in English Literature from Amity University, Noida, India. Previously worked as a travel journalist, content proofreader and social media intern in India with a number of different media organisations. Specialises in working on Travel and Lifestyle pieces for Babylon Radio.

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