AWARD-WINNING authors, music and theatre, 11 artists across five venues and even a day of Gabriel Byrne films are all on the menu for this year's Kilkenny Arts Festival.
The line-up for the 2010 vintage of the internationally renowned event was launched yesterday.
It features eight cultural curators leading the way to bring specialist knowledge to each section of the programme.
More than 23,000 people are expected to flood into the heritage city for the 10-day festival in August.
The literary strand will be curated by Colm Toibin and will include John Banville, Hugo Hamilton, John Boyne, Andrew O'Hagan, Ed O'Loughlin, Joseph O'Connor and Paul Durcan.
Irish feminism will be discussed by Nell McCafferty and Margaret MacCurtain, among others, while a panel including Teresa Ghilarducci of the New School and journalist Fintan O'Toole will explore possible solutions to the pensions crisis.
Journalist and Middle East expert Robert Fisk will give the annual Hubert Butler Lecture.
There will be a strong focus on choral music and a Kilkenny Festival choir. Led by conductor Fergus Sheil, amateur choral singers will perform in St Canice's Cathedral.
They will be joined by celebrated singers Christopher Lemmings, Raitis Grigalis and Bridget Knowles, as well as pianist Finghin Collins and Irish-American soprano Aileen Itani.
There is a strong emphasis on children's events during this year's festival, with clowning in the Magic Cube and a Children's Book of the Festival, highlighting 'Dark Days' from the 'Skulduggery Pleasant' series by Derek Landy.
Liam O Maonlai from the Hothouse Flowers will also present a specially created family musical experience.
For art afficionados, 'Surface and Reality' will feature 11 artists in five venues in exhibitions of film, paintings, photographs, installation and sound.
More details on the festival, which runs from August 6 to 15, are available at www.kilkennyarts.ie.