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Legends and Legacies: North Texas Irish Festival Celebrates Celtic Culture March 4-6 in Dallas’s Fair Park

Largest celebration of Irish culture in Southwest harkens back to its roots of music and merry-making

DALLAS, TX – The 34th Annual North Texas Irish Festival returns to Fair Park March 4-6, this year celebrating the legends of the past and the legacy that continues to draw tens of thousands of fans to Dallas for everyone’s favorite celebration of music, dance and Irish culture. Presented by the Southwest Celtic Music Association, a non-profit that fosters the great tradition of Irish culture in North Texas, this largest cultural festival in DFW is also revered as one of the best Irish festivals in the U.S.

At the heart of the North Texas Irish Festival is the music. This year’s theme, Legends and Legacies, highlights the true legends of Irish music who leave a legacy for fans of all generations. This year, gracing the festival are international favorites Altan and Solas, among other featured performers from around the world. New this year are special appearances from Celtic Aire, the premier folk ensemble of the U.S. Air Force; and Scythian, a Celtic band from the Ukraine that specializes in “immigrant rock.” From highlighting true legends of Irish music to continuing the legacy through newer, young musicians emerging from the North Texas hotbed of Irish music, North Texas Irish Festival proves to be another rich, cultural experience that will have toes tapping and minds blown.

“Our festival and our non-profit organization, the Southwest Celtic Music Association revolve around this music,” said Sheri Bush, president of the Southwest Celtic Music Association, the presenting organization of the festival. “It’s possibly one of the greatest gifts that the Celtic culture has given to the world.”

The North Texas Irish Festival features top Irish musicians and dancers from around the world and a number of cultural presentations on 13 stages at Fair Park. After all that music and dancing, hungry appetites can be satisfied with Irish stew, Shepherd’s pie, or even fish and chips at one of the many food booths featuring traditional Irish cuisine. Cooking presentations from top chefs will modernize Irish classics with new flavor twists and cook with traditional Irish ingredients such as Guinness — fare that attendees can taste and then wash down with a glass of their favorite Irish beverage. Whiskey tastings, blacksmithing demonstrations, horse displays and more allow attendees to experience Celtic culture. Urchin Street kid-friendly activities include children’s entertainment, a petting zoo, safety demonstrations and art activities. Storytellers (those blessed with the Blarney’s gift of gab!) will weave tales of Celtic lore for everyone to enjoy.

Musicians

Headlining performers at the 34th Annual North Texas Irish Festival include: Altan, Solas, Cathie Ryan, Jed Marum, Ed Miller, Patrick Ball, Makem & Spain, Scythian, and special guests Celtic Aire.

Featured performers include: 5 Second Rule, BEHAN, Beyond the Pale, Coolin, Celtic Cowboys, Earl Grey in the Morning, Flashpoint, Irish Rogues, Jeff Ward, Jiggernaut, Jigsaw, Jim Flanagan, Michael William Harrison, North Texas Caledonian Pipes & Drums, Poor Man’s Fortune, Ravens Three, RussellClan, Selkie Girls, Singing Pilgrims, Skeleton McKee, String Theory, The Jig is Up, The Rogues, Therese Honey, Threadneedle St., Tröen, Tullamore and Vintage Wildflowers.

The music goes on all weekend and encompasses myriad approaches to Celtic music from traditional jigs and reels to pub ballads to Celtic rock.

Dance

Some of the world’s finest Irish Step Dancers are located in local schools in the DFW Metroplex, including the Inishfree School of Irish Dance, Jackson Irish Dancers, Maguire Academy of Irish Dance, McTeggart Irish Dancers of North Texas, New Orleans Irish Set Dancers and the Shandon-O’Regan Irish Dance Academy. Performers from these schools will delight audiences with continuous performances on the dance stage. The colorful traditional and modern Irish dancers with their hand-embroidered dresses and fast foot- tapping rhythms are not to be missed. In addition, there will be dance workshops throughout the weekend, and everyone is encouraged to get into the spirit of Ireland at Saturday night’s Dance “Ceili,” a traditional Irish party led by local Irish dance instructors.

Cultural

The North Texas Irish Festival brings together a wide variety of exhibitors, workshops and demonstrations. Urchin Street will offer a special place where kids can find entertainment, education, play and fun, including crafts, music, dance, storytelling, magic and mystery. Storytellers — or “Shanachie” – will perform traditional Irish stories in the way that the Irish learned of their history for hundreds of years. Equestrian shows, including the Celtic Horse Experience, blacksmithing and other demonstrations will be performed in various areas of Fair Park.

The “First Texas ‘Ceili” (pronounced “kay-lee” and meaning “gathering” in Gaelic) was held in 1983 at a local Oak Lawn pub and has grown into the largest celebration of Irish culture in the Southwest as the 34th Annual North Texas Irish Festival, presented by the Southwest Celtic Music Association, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing music and dance scholarships and supporting other major Celtic cultural events in DFW. The North Texas Irish Festival is one of the most respected Irish festivals in the U.S.

Hours, Admission and Location

Gates open on Friday evening, March 4, at 6 p.m. Hours are 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 5; and 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 6.

Tickets will be available online in February at www.ntif.org. Admission is FREE on Friday from 6 to 7 p.m.; $10 after (50% off coupons online at www.ntif.org). A one-day ticket is $20 on Saturday and $15 on Sunday at the gate, while a two-day ticket is $25 and a weekend pass is $30. Discount tickets will be available at area Tom Thumb and Albertsons stores in February. Children 11 and under are FREE when accompanied by adult family member. Seniors over 65 or current military members (with valid military ID) receive $5 off all gate prices. Dogs are allowed in on a short leash with a $1 requested donation to animal rescue groups supported by the festival. Leprechauns (in full ceremonial dress and carrying pot of gold) are FREE.

Parking is available in and around Fair Park, or attendees can take the DART (take the Green Line and save some green!) to the front entrance of Fair Park and the North Texas Irish Festival. Detailed directions and parking tips are available at www.ntif.org. The public can call (214) 821-4173 or visit www.ntif.org for more information or to volunteer to work at the festival.

About the Southwest Celtic Music Association

The Southwest Celtic Music Association (SCMA) is the producing organization for the North Texas Irish Festival. More than 600 volunteers will help in organization, promotion and execution of this year’s festival. The first such festival was held on March 5, 1983 at the legendary Nick Farrelly’s Lounge on Oak Lawn and was billed as the First Texas Céili. This event was so popular that it has continued every year since on the first weekend in March as the North Texas Irish Festival. Shortly after the first festival, the all-volunteer Southwest Celtic Music Association was formed to promote the study, performance and preservation of traditional Celtic music, dance and culture. In 1984, the event was moved to Fair Park and its name changed to the North Texas Irish Festival. The Southwest Celtic Music Association is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit cultural corporation headquartered in Dallas, TX, and serves a five-state regional area. The organization maintains a web site at www.scmatx.org.