• Culture

Baroque ‘N Roll: What you need to know about the Ardee Baroque Festival

A promotional sign for the 2017 Ardee Baroque Festival. Photo Credit: Adrian Crawley.
This article originally appeared on ThisIsArdee.ie
We’re 24 hours away from the return of the ever popular Ardee Baroque Festival to the town, for it’s 14th annual outing. With a varied programme of events, the festival brings a touch of culture and history to Ardee’s musical offering for one weekend only. Thinking of attending an event? Here’s what you need to know.
What is the Ardee Baroque Festival?

The Ardee Baroque Festival is one of Ireland’s premier classical musical events. Run by a board and a voluntary committee, it aims to bring the very best of baroque and classical music to Ardee, the north east and visitors from further afield. It presents a mix of pure baroque music as well as music influenced by baroque.

Every year, the Irish Baroque Orchestra headlines the festival with a show at St Marys Abbey. Over the course of the last 14 years, the festival has seen shows take place in Ardee Castle, Hatch’s Castle, St Marys Abbey, Ardee Library and Scoil Muire na Trocaire.


How long has the festival been running?

The Ardee Baroque Festival has been an annual event in the town since 2004. This year marks the 14th outing of the popular national music festival.

What is Baroque music?

Baroque music is a style of western art music composed from approximately 1600 to 1750. The Baroque period followed the Renaissance music era and preceded the Classical era.

Baroque music forms a major portion of the classical music canon. Key composers of the time include Bach, Vivaldi, Handel and more.

Who is performing at the festival this year?

Aimed at music lovers, young and old, novice or experienced, there really is something for everyone in this year’s line-up. As ever, the main headline concert will be the Irish Baroque Orchestra – this year with leading Irish soprano Sinead Campbell Wallace. After their sell-out concert last year with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, this year’s concert will include some of the best-known and loved arias from Handel’s Messiah – ideal to get audiences in the mood for the festive season. This concert takes place at St Marys’ Abbey.

Other highlights include a family-friendly concert from Music Generation Louth’s Junior Orchestra. This is the perfect concert to bring your children or grandchildren to. Encourage your little ones to get involved or pique their interest in music by bringing them along to an always engaging show. Last year, this show took place at the girls school in Ardee, but in 2017 the youngsters will get their chance to perform in the beautiful and historic St Marys church.

The Saturday afternoon concert in Hatch’s Castle will be one to treasure for many years. Given the limited capacity, seeing violinist Mairéad Hickey perform a mix of traditional Irish and baroque music will undoubtedly make this one of the most exciting events in the weekend.

Last year’s sold out Irish Baroque Orchestra performance was the highlight of the festival. Photography by Adrian Crawley Photography.

The closing concert on Sunday afternoon offers something a bit different, with a performance by pianist Michael McHale and cellist William Butt. They will each play solo works by Bach and then together perform Brahms’ glorious cello sonata – a work that is said to be heavily influenced by Bach.

The hour-long programme will include Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2, Bach’s Italian Concerto as well as Brahms’ glorious Cello Sonata No. 1.

Please note, William Butt has replaced Brian O’Kane on the bill for this performance. Butt is well known as the professor of cello at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin and has performed extensively throughout Ireland, the UK, Europe and the Far East.

Is it just music – or is there more to see and hear?

Last year, the Ardee Baroque Festival included an art exhibition and poetry recital as the festival expanded beyond it’s usual musical remit to widen the breadth of art under it’s umbrella.

This year is no different. The festival kicks off with a Lit Lab Poetry reading in Hatch’s Castle on Friday evening, at 7.30pm. Then on Sunday, Sylvia Crawford will be at the same venue to give a talk on the life and repertory of Patrick Quin, an eighteenth century harper from Co. Armagh. Both events are free.

Who supports the event?

The Ardee Baroque Festival is generously supported by Louth County Council, Create Louth and the Arts Council.

Are tickets still available – and where can I get them?

Yes, tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling 042 933 2332 or by logging onto the An Tain Arts Centre’s online ticket portal. Online ticket sales end at 4pm on Friday November 24th. Unlike previous years, tickets are not available to purchase in person at outlets in Ardee.

How much do tickets cost?

Tickets are very reasonably priced. They cost between €5 and €18, depending on what event you are attending.


  • Lit Lab Poerty Night (Hatch’s Castle) – FREE
  • Music Generation Louth Chamber Groups and Junior Strings (St Marys Abbey) – €5
  • Mairead Hickey – (Hatch’s Castle) – FULL PRICE €10, CHILD €5
  • Irish Baroque Orchestra feat. Sinead Campbell-Wallace (St Marys Abbey) – FULL PRICE €18, CONCESSION €15, CHILD €5
  • Sunday Lecture (Hatch’s Castle)- FREE
  • Michael McHale and William Butt (St Marys Abbey) – FULL PRICE €15, CONCESSION €12, CHILD €5
Can I pay at the door on the day/night?

Space at the various venues are at a premium so limited tickets will be available for purchase on the door at each event. They will be sold on a first come, first served basis.

I see some events are free – do I still need a ticket?

Yes, tickets are required to gain entry at all events. This includes free events.

What have festival organisers had to say about the event?

“Hoping to draw on the success of last year with record numbers enjoying Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” with the Irish Baroque Orchestra, this year we have invited one of Ireland’s leading sopranos – Sinead Campbell-Wallace – to perform a programme of popular and much-loved arias by Handel for the main Saturday evening concert,” Programme Director Pauline Ashwood said.

“You don’t have to be a classical music expert to enjoy this festival. Many performances include well-known tunes from the Baroque period as well as a piano and cello concert with music by and inspired by Bach.”

“There is a variety of music to enjoy and not just baroque, but music inspired by baroque. For any newcomers to the festival, I would encourage people to try something. So much baroque music is used in TV, ads, films and is very familiar. But if that isn’t your thing, the Saturday afternoon recital includes traditional music from one of Ireland’s leading violinists while the closing concert features two brilliant musicians who we are privileged to have perform in Ardee,” she added.

It looks good. Is there anyway of revisiting last year’s event?

There sure is. Click here to view a full gallery of images from the 2016 Ardee Baroque Festival – taken for ThisIsArdee.ie by Adrian Crawley.

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