About the Festival
From May 17 – June 5, 2016, the Kennedy Center presents IRELAND 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture, a major festival highlighting Irish culture and its relationship to America. Curated by Alicia Adams, Vice President of International Programming and Dance, the festival includes dozens of performances from some of Ireland’s best contemporary musicians, dancers, and theater companies.
Other events include free Millennium Stage performances, a literature series featuring panel discussions with more than 20 Irish and American writers and musicians, documentary film screenings, educational activities including a Tiny Plays playwriting competition, culinary events such as whiskey and beer tastings and chef demonstrations, installations by architects as well as writers and musicians, and workshops with several of the participating artists. Plus, the North Plaza transforms into a picnic area during the festival with artificial grass, tables and chairs, and a small platform for short performances.
coincides with a larger global celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which led to Ireland’s independence. As America’s national cultural center, the Kennedy Center is also a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, the most well-known Irish American President and the first sitting American President to visit Ireland.
Tickets & "Festival Pass" Savings
See below to learn more and purchase tickets for performances currently on sale. A complete listing of participants and additional events will be announced in the coming months.
To officially kick off the festival, Artist-in-Residence Fiona Shaw directs this performance featuring artists from Ireland and the United States, joined on stage by the National Symphony Orchestra.
Outdoor Green Space
Throughout the festival, the Kennedy Center North Plaza will be transformed into an outdoor green space for picnicking, performances, food, drinks, workshops, and more. Activities and performances in this area will be free and open to the public. Bring your own picnic or buy food here, invite your friends or settle down with a book, and come relax and enjoy! Our outdoor green space will host these events and many others:
Redheads and redheads-at-heart are invited to join this free celebration featuring music acts, dance performances, demonstrations, and activities for the whole family, culminating in a redhead kids' parade and photo gathering.
- May 21 | North Plaza Outdoors
John F. Kennedy Centennial Celebration
The festival ushers in the yearlong centennial celebration of John F. Kennedy (1917–1963) with three exciting programs: a nationwide playwriting challenge on his legacy, documentary screenings of President Kennedy’s 1963 visit to Ireland, and a special Millennium Stage event on May 29, Celebrating the Past to Awaken the Future (see the Millennium Stage section below).
Dr. Harvey O'Brien, Member of the Irish Film Institute Board of Directors, presents several films examining President John F. Kennedy's visit to Ireland in the summer of 1963-a time widely seen as one of the defining moments in modern Irish history.
Fiona Shaw, Artist-in-Residence
Fiona Shaw, one of the most acclaimed Irish actors and directors of our time, will be the festival’s Artist-in-Residence. The two-time Olivier Award® winner, Tony Award® nominee, and Honorary CBE recipient has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre and her many film roles include the Harry Potter series. In addition to a performance, Fiona Shaw will also offer a masterclass and panel discussion, and direct the festival’s opening performance.
Join the famed two-time Olivier Award-winning actor and director, also our festival's Artist-in-Residence, for an intimate evening of performance showcasing beloved and acclaimed Irish texts of poetry and literature.
Fiona Shaw leads a conversation with guests that are innovators of their fields, investigating new angles and bringing new perspectives to our time and to the future. Guests will be announced prior to the festival.
- Jun 3 | Eisenhower Theater
Get an intimate look at the artistic process as award-winning actress Fiona Shaw works on monologues prepared by MFA students from The Shakespeare Theatre Company's Academy for Classical Acting at George Washington University.
Seán O'Casey's classic in the repertoire of Irish drama comes to life once more in the Abbey Theatre's production directed by Sean Holmes.
- May 18 - May 19 | Eisenhower Theater
Audiences are immersed in an atmospheric chamber of multiple speakers and ambient lights, experiencing Samuel Beckett's first radio play, All That Fall, directed by Gavin Quinn.