Rug up, put your winter woollies on and dive head first into this Celtic affair.
Returning after a forced two-year hiatus, the National Celtic Festival is back this month, transforming the Portarlington foreshore and surrounding haunts into a bustling winter-wonderland of talented musicians and performers over the wintery long weekend in June.
Attracting thousands of visitors every year, presenting concerts across a number of stages over four days, with showcases, dance, theatre, literature readings, masterclasses and more celebrating all things Celtic and Craic, this year’s festival is celebrating its return with a sensational lineup and plenty of craic, delivering one long weekend to remember.
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For those well-versed with the Irish and Scottish traditions, the National Celtic Festival is compulsory. Meanwhile, for those not initiated, it is a wonderful surprise to find such amazing music and dedicated musicians in our midst.
For the past 17 iterations, the festival has showcased some of the world’s most culturally rich performers and introducing fresh up and coming act. The talent is second to none, but it’s the diversity of this festival that gives the National Celtic Festival a distinct edge, attracting audiences from all walks of life.
The 2022 lineup gives a huge warm welcome to acts who have been programmed over our two cancelled events, some festival favourites alongside some exciting new acts and artists. Internationally the festival will see Laura Flanagan, a musician from Lubbock, Texas who plays traditional Irish music, take to the stage alongside an incredible collection of national talent. Festival-goers will also be seeing the likes of high-energy roots duo Hat Fitz and Cara; Yackandandah bluegrass musician and comedian Pete Denahy; Melbourne-via-Scotland alternative rock folkster Rich Davies and the Low Road; Glasgow-born singer Fiona Ross and ARIA award-winning guitarist Shane O’Mara; Australia’s first bush band The Bushwhackers; Australia’s iconic Celtic festival band The Ploughboys; and Austral, an energetic group of young musicians with family roots in Irish traditional music, among many others.
Several community groups will also play their part at the festival, including Cathies Celtic Dance, Melbourne Comhaltas, Victorian Irish Dance Academy and The Celtic Piping Club.
Along with the focus in diverse genres of music, the festival is known for delving deep into the culture to include countless comedy, singing sessions, dance, literature, medieval sports and theatre troupes, all of which you can expect to see at this year’s return festival.
Highlights this year include the Smoking ceremony and official opening; ‘Fire In The Head’ – a new rehearsed play reading brings to light the tragic, heroic life of the amazing Kate Kelly, sister to Ned; ‘The House of Song’ which invites all to experience the tradition of singing and to appreciate traditional song; and a National Longsword and Backsword tournament over the Saturday and Sunday, culminating with the teamed pair competition, which will see some of the best swordsmen in the country take the field.
Another must see is the The South Pacific Highland Championships. The event will be packed with both male and female International and local heavy athletes competing in traditional highland games heavy events, including the heavy stone throw, the weight over the bar and, crowd favourite, the caber toss. The inclusion of this Scottish cultural event will provide a new and exciting spectacle to the Bellarine and the greater community.
With all the music, art and entertainment, you can’t forget about The Folk Market, which will be bursting with fine food and fresh produce from a wide range of food trucks, along with delicious local wines, craft brews and spirits from Victoria’s bespoke distilleries, free live entertainment and open fires. Here you’ll find all the regular delicious festival food, along with a range of delicious cultural tastings. This is one you can attend without a ticket.
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With an easy 90-minute drive out of Melbourne to the stunning Bellarine Peninsula, a 40-minute ferry ride from Sorrento to Queenscliff, or a 90-minute ferry ride from Melbourne’s Docklands that goes direct to Portarlington, there’s no excuse to miss experiencing Australia’s premier Celtic Folk Festival.
Start digging out your warmest tartan attire, it all goes down on from 10-13 June, 2022. Tickets are still on sale here.