With many feeling the pinch after Christmas and mid-term break just around the corner, we’ve decided to put together a list of the very best free activities in Kilkenny, suitable for couples, families, groups and more. Enjoy culture, history, and outdoor activities absolutely free, creating much-needed new memories in Kilkenny. If you’d like to enjoy high-quality accommodation at affordable prices, Hoban Hotel is an ideal place to stay. Located on the edge of the city, we can offer lower rates than city centre hotels without compromising on standard or service.
Castlecomer Discovery Park
A highlight in any trip to Kilkenny, Castlecomer Discovery Park is free for all to explore and enjoy at their leisure. Located around 20km North of the city centre, the park in Castlecomer is open all year round and is an ideal location for a family day out. They have many attractions contained within, many of which are free. Younger children can enjoy the playground, the elf and fairy village, the junior woodland adventure course and more all situated within beautiful natural surroundings. You can enjoy family or group walks and enjoy a packed lunch under the woodland canopy.
Kilkenny Castle Park
Another gorgeous outdoor space free for all to enjoy is the ground of Kilkenny Castle Park. Located in the heart of the medieval city, the grounds are ideal to let the young ones run free or for adults to relax in the sun or under the shade of a tree. Enjoy views of the exterior of the imposing castle, take a walk around the 21 hectares of land, explore the formal gardens and the water fountain at your leisure. It’s an ideal spot for a lunch al fresco on a sunny day.
National Design and Craft Gallery
Just across from Kilkenny Castle in the former stable courtyard is the home of Irish craft, The National Design and Craft Gallery. It’s one of the only permanent craft exhibition spaces in the county and has evolved since its opening in 2000 to satisfy both visitors and the creative community. Contemporary Irish crafts are showcased at these gorgeous galleries as well as a retail outlet from the Kilkenny Design Centre. Enjoy ceramic, furniture, jewellery, and weaving masterpieces from the members of the Crafts Council of Ireland on display every day, free of charge. They often have family days and hands-on workshops on the third Saturday of the month.
Underneath the majestic Kilkenny Castle, in the basement, you’ll find the impressive Butler Gallery. Established in 1943 by George Pennefather, the gallery is one of the finest exhibition spaces in Ireland. Butler Gallery is committed to exhibiting the work of Irish and emerging artists, bringing the work of major international artists to Kilkenny. Their collection of art dates all the way to the 1800s right up to today and comes from across the globe. There are always events and workshops open to the public and although you do need to book tickets, most are free.
The Canal Walk
If you’re lucky enough to be here on a bright, dry day, take the opportunity to enjoy the Canal Walk, showing you Kilkenny off the main drag. Starting at the Canal Square on Rose Inn Street, the Canal walk begins in the shadow of the imposing Kilkenny Castle. This easy trek can be as long as you like, following the River Nore for miles towards the picturesque town of Inistioge. Make the trip a loop by crossing the pedestrian bridge and returning along the opposite side.
Rothe House & Gardens
If you’ve ever wondered what life was truly like in the past days in Kilkenny, Rothe House is a must-visit. Five minutes from the main street, Rothe House is a beautifully restored merchant House that was built in the late 16th to early 17th century, and it still retains many of its original fittings. It consists of three impressive buildings which were once occupied by the man who built it – John Rothe Fitz-Piers – his 12 children and many grandchildren. The extensive gardens are worth exploring and you’ll also see three enclosed courtyards and a large, reconstructed garden with an orchard. It’s a very special part of Kilkenny and it is worth a visit. The self-guided tour and access to the gardens is free of charge.
Book your stay in Hoban Hotel in Kilkenny today to explore the very best of our medieval city. Our special offers and packages are exclusively available when you book direct.