America’s Longest Running

Traditional Irish Music and Dance Festival

Celebrates Its 49th Year

October 12-14th in Philadelphia 

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Thursday, Oct. 12 - Singers Night - 8pm

Friday, Oct. 13 - Ceili Dance in the Fireside room - 8pm

Saturday, Oct. 14 - Workshops starting at 10am, music all day, children's activities, dance demonstrations, and a          Saturday evening concert featuring

Niamh Parsons & Graham Dunne and Reverie Road

 

The music and dancing starts on Thursday, October 12, with Singers Night hosted by Pat Kane, featuring an array of local and national Irish traditional singers gathered in the cozy pub atmosphere of the Irish Center’s Fireside Room with its stone fireplace and crackling fire.

On Friday October 13, a traditional Ceili Dance—group dancing native to Ireland—will take over the Fireside Room with live music by the McGillians and Friends with instructors to help beginners master the moves and steps. The evening will include a Halloween costume contest so be sure to don your best costume!

Saturday October 14, a tradition of Irish rural life is celebrated as Marianne MacDonald, popular host of WTMR’s “Come West Along the Road” Irish radio show, presides over a “Rambling House.” In Ireland, before TV and even radio, neighbors would gather in one home for an evening of singing, playing, dancing and story-telling, over cups of tea anda blazing fire. This entertainment went on into the wee hours before everyone would “ramble” home. The Philadelphia Ceili Group has assembled a group of musicians, singers, and story tellers to recreate the spirit of the Rambling House throughout the day. The Next Generation, a group of young musicians who meet every month at the Irish Center to learn Irish tunes, will also perform and lead a beginner tune workshop.

The Festival’s Saturday lineup has always included intimate and interactive workshops, some taught by the headliners, giving students a rare chance to learn from the best. Parsons will be teaching singing, Dunne the basics of accompaniment, Reverie Road fiddlers Winnie Horan and Katie Glennan, and accordionist John Williams will lead workshops on their instruments for both beginner and advanced students. Beginners are also welcome to learn a tune with the Next Generation or dip their toe into playing with others at the beginner session with our monthly session leader, Hollis Payer. Philadelphia native Kieran Jordan, one of the nation’s top dancers and dance instructors who runs her own dance company and studio in Boston, will conduct a 90-minute all level class on sean nos dancing. Sean nos is a more casual and loose form of traditional Irish dancing that predates the more familiar Irish step dancing. This “close-to-the-floor” style of dance doesn’t require the same athletic leaps nor the stiff arms as step dancing so it’s accessible to all ages and many abilities. Click HERE for the workshop schedule.

As a nod to the Halloween season, there will be family-friendly activities such as pumpkin decorating and Irish ghost stories on Saturday. Workshops are aimed at all ages and levels, including hands-on classes for beginner and advanced musicians as well as lessons in the Irish language for children and adults. Popular face painter Sue Foo will be offering her skin art to kids and adults. A family favorite is learning how to make St. Brigid’s Crosses out of reeds, in which the McGill family (of Ardara, County Donegal) has led attendees at the festival for many years.

Irish singer Niamh Parsons, once described as having a “drop-dead, stops-you-in-your-tracks, unbelievably gorgeous voice,” will be one of the headliners at the grand finale concert. She’ll take the stage Saturday night, October 14, accompanied by her husband, noted guitarist Graham Dunne. The two will be joined by a brand new traditional music band, Reverie Road, which includes two of the founding members of the Grammy-nominated Irish supergroup Solas. Co-founder Winnie Horan is a nine-time national Irish step dancer and an All-Ireland fiddle champion. She was also part of the all-female Celtic music ensemble Cherish the Ladies. John Williams, also a Solas co-founder, is a five-time All-Ireland champion and a multi-instrumentalist (button accordion, flute, bodhran, and piano) who has made eclectic forays into a wide variety of music, from jazz to bluegrass, as a performer and composer. Former Gaelic Storm fiddler Katie Grenna and jazz and Raga pianist Utsave Lal round out the Reverie Road group. 

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Thank you to the 2023 Festival Sponsors

Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann - Philadelphia-Delaware Valley

Jane Cahill & Harry Stulting

Lori Lander Murphy

Courtney & Bryan Malley

Philadelphia Donegal Society

Commodore Barry Arts & Cultural Center