William Kennedy Piping Festival

The 30th William Kennedy Piping Festival, an international festival of mainly bagpipe-based traditional music, takes place in Armagh on 14-17 November 2024. 

You can book for all events online – links can be found on the Programme page. Please note that there are no physical tickets – when you book, your name goes onto a list at your event(s). Some events have limited capacity and will be taken off sale when individual sales plus Festival Pass and Academy sales reach the limit. For other events, it will be possible to pay on the door.

The 30th edition of the WKPF includes five public concerts, a schools concert, the Mark Donnelly Piping Academy, the 2024 William Kennedy Lecture, instrument workshops for beginners and improvers, and a number of free sessions in pubs and other venues. 

Artists taking part this year include: Paddi Benson, Colm Broderick, John Carty, Peter Coyle, Éamonn Curran, Tom Delany, David Doocey, Patrick Doocey, James Patrick Gavin, Matt Griffin, Jarlath Henderson, Marco Iamele, Caroline Keane, Sébastien Lagrange, Grace Lemon, Angus MacKenzie, Kenneth MacKenzie, Calum Alex MacMillan, Conor Mallon, Ross Martin, Michael McGoldrick, Pádraig McGovern, Peter McKenna, Eric Montbel, Máire Ní Ghráda, Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn, Caoimhín Ó Fearghail, Maeve O’Donnell, Conal O’Kane, Giorgio Pinai, Toner Quinn, Mark Redmond, Gaël Rutkowski, Aoife Smyth, Cadhla Tohill, Marco Tomassi, Cillian Vallely and Robert Watt. 

First organised as a one-off event by Armagh Pipers Club in 1994, as part of a cross-community “Armagh Together” series of events, the Festival was such a success that it was reprised in 1995, and then became a regular annual fixture. A total of 26 festivals took place up to 2019, drawing into Armagh a vast array of internationally renowned musicians, and aficionados from all over the world. It is one of the longest-running festivals of its kind in the world of piping.

The Festival had to take a break in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but returned in 2021 – on a smaller scale than in previous years, to ensure public safety. The 2022 and 2023 editions were considerably larger, with over 40 musicians taking part, and the 2024 Festival has a similar number: we aim to bring in a number of previous Festival favourites and a few first-timers who have caught our attention over recent years. Eleven of those named above are making their first WKPF appearance, while the others have racked up 179 between them! Over its 30 years the Festival has featured – we think – 1,146 individuals, making a total of 2,304 appearances. 

For further information on the 2024 Festival artists, see here.

William Kennedy, after whom the Festival is named, was a blind craftsman from Tandragee, near Armagh, who lived from 1768 to 1834. He made several important innovations in the design of uilleann pipes. His biography forms a chapter of The William Kennedy Lectures, a collection of 19 essays based on lectures presented during the first 25 Festivals. The book can be ordered from our online shop.

We have applied for funding for the 30th WKPF to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, which has supported every previous edition, and to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Additional funding is expected this year from the Celtic Arts Foundation (Washington state, USA), O’Neill’s Music Shop (Gortin, Co. Tyrone), the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, Red Ned’s Bar and the Hole in the Wall Bar in Armagh, Armagh City Hotel, and Madden’s Bar (Belfast).