Luckily for Americans, you don’t have to be living in Ireland to experience some terrific, authentic Irish culture. There are many Irish festivals held annually throughout the United States, and two wonderful ones are coming up on the West Coast and in the Midwest.
Irish festivals are a great way to learn more about Irish culture, whether it’s sampling some Irish cuisine (potato soup, corned beef sandwiches or Guinness tickle your fancy?), learning about Irish history, watching performers dance traditional Irish steps or listening to Irish music, these festivals have it all: all without having to leave the continent.
Mark your calendars all you West Coasters: The Irish Heritage Club of Seattle, WA is hosting its 2009 Irish Festival March 14, 15 and 17th (conveniently, St. Patrick’s Day). This event is free, so get your Irish apparel ready and your party shoes on. This festival will feature something for everyone in the family, including: booths selling Irish and Celtic products, on-going Irish music, singing, dancing, workshops, lectures, cultural displays, children’s contests and activities and more!
If you are interested in learning more about your Irish family ancestry or perhaps just about Irish genealogy in general, you may want to participate in one of the festival’s Genealogy workshops. If you have always wanted to be able to impress people with being able to speak some Irish, or perhaps you’re planning a trip to the Emerald Isle and want to have a few phrases under your belt, there will be Language workshops available for your learning pleasure.
For those who appreciate foreign cinema, there will be screening of Irish films during the Festival’s Irish Reels Film Festival. For more information, call (206) 427-3027 or visit https://www.irishclub.org/center.htm
Midwesterners need to wait a little longer for a local Irish festival, but the Michigan Irish music festival is well worth the wait. Happening on September 18-20, 2009 in downtown Muskegon, this festival is one that you will never forget. The festival boasts three days of live music on three different stages, with everything from traditional Irish folk to contemporary Irish rock.
The music will come from bands like Gaelic Storm, The Barra MacNeils, Seamus Kennedy, Fonn Mor and more. The Irish pub area will feature the Notre Dame game on a big screen, so football fans won’t have to miss a minute of the Fighting Irish.
Food galore will be served, and alcohol like Guinness, Harp, Baileys Irish Cream, Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Select, Amber Bock, Bacardi Malternatives will be served. On the Verizon Dance state, festival go-ers can either watch performers doing traditional Irish dances, or learn them themselves.
If you are worried about missing church on Sunday to attend an Irish festival, fear not. There will be a Catholic Mass on the 14th at 9 am, and that is free to the public. Countless craft and souvenir vendors will be on hand, so have your pocketbook ready to bring home some unique Irish gifts for family and friends.
3-day pass to the festival is $20, or you can buy tickets for just one day priced at $12 for adults on Saturday and $10 on Sunday. Children ages 5-12 are $2 both days, and children under 5 years old are free. Call (231) 739-2028 or visit https://www.michiganirish.org for more information.
Attending Irish festivals are a great way to get in touch with your Irish roots. While you can certainly buy jewelry and other Irish apparel at the festivals, it is even more fun to come to the festivals wearing something you know was handcrafted in Ireland. Irishcelticjewels.com features a great variety of Celtic and Irish jewelry, everything from rings to pendants to earrings.
There is no better way to show off your Irish heritage by wearing something historically significant like a Claddagh ring or a Trinity knot necklace. People will surely notice your jewelry, and you can impress them by saying you ordered it all the way from Ireland. You may be able to find great Irish gifts at these festivals, but there’s no way to know if they are authentically Irish.