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Kathy Beazley
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It’s almost time to kick up your heels and dance a jig: The North Texas Irish Festival brings Celtic culture to Dallas’s Fair Park March 1-3, 2024. This family-friendly festival is a beloved annual event celebrating the best in music, dance, food and spirits, storytelling, art and more originating in the Emerald Isle and alive and well today in North Texas.

The largest cultural celebration in DFW, the North Texas Irish Festival is produced by the Southwest Celtic Music Association and is staffed by hundreds of volunteers, some of whom have volunteered for decades, often alongside generations of their families. This year’s festival theme, Circle of Life, acknowledges the dedication of volunteers present, past and future, and is symbolized by a Celtic-style art depicting the tree of life.

Bring your family, friends – even the family dog! – to Fair Park in Dallas to enjoy 10 stages of live music, Irish step dancing, chef demonstrations and more, indoors and outdoors. Guests will also enjoy beer and whiskey tastings (for 21+), shopping, horse shows, sheepherding demonstrations, animal rescue groups, child-friendly entertainment, and free arts and crafts for the kids. This indoor-outdoor festival takes place rain or shine.

“Our attendees enjoy being able to walk from stage to stage, settle into a comfortable chair, and enjoy the very best Celtic in the music in the world, live and right here in front of them in North Texas,” said

Sheri Bush, president of the Southwest Celtic Music Association Inc., the non-profit organization that produces the North Texas Irish Festival and provides music and dance scholarships to local students. “There is so much here for everyone, from children to adults and more. How many places can you sit and enjoy multiple concerts in a weekend with a beer, your family and your dog?”

The festival gets off to a festive start with the North Texas Irish Festival Fun Run, a jaunt through the beautiful grounds of Fair Park on Saturday, March 2, at 8 a.m. Perfect for runners or walkers of any age or ability, this activity is perfect for the whole family (even the family dog!). All registered participants will receive a T-shirt, a “bottle opener” medal, one ticket to the North Texas Irish Festival, and two beers after the run (if they are of legal drinking age). This non-timed 5K fun run will benefit Friends of Fair Park and the Southwest Celtic Music Association. More information and a link to registration are available here.

NEW FOR THIS YEAR: Don’t miss the Big Idaho® Potato Truck and Tater Team, a 4-ton potato making a stop through North Texas on its national tour to spread potato love! (We Irish do love our potatoes!) This giant tater is not only something you simply must get a photo of, but it also has a non-profit component: Autographing the Potato’s “Big Helping” wall helps generate funds for the Southwest Celtic Music Association, the non-profit organization that produces the North Texas Irish Festival each year, and supports dance and music education initiatives year-round.

Also NEW this year is artist Rolando Diaz, who has painted for musician Amy Grant, First Lady Laura Bush and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. He will do special caricature drawings at the festival to raise funds for animal rescue groups at the festival. 

Music

The roots of the North Texas Irish Festival are in its celebration of music and every year, the festival is able to bring some of the biggest names worldwide to Fair Park. This year, the North Texas Irish Festival is proud to feature the following musical headliners:

 Musical performers from the North Texas region will include:

Dance

If you have ever seen “Riverdance,” you know that the rhythmic magic of Irish step dancing is enchanting to watch and to tap your toe right along with. At the North Texas Irish Festival, Celtic music comes alive in the steps of dancers of all ages, including those from The McLane School of Irish Dance, Maguire Academy of Irish Dance, Inishfree School of Irish Dance-Dallas, McTeggart Irish Dancers of North Texas and the Shandon-O’Regan Irish Dance Academy, who will delight audiences. Irish step dancers perform on a dedicated dance stage and also with musical performers throughout the festival.

Chef Stage and Whiskey Tastings

Chefs doing their own modern take on traditional Celtic fare, or using traditional ingredients in new ways, delight audiences who love to learn and sample the fare on the chef stage. And don’t miss special mixology demonstrations on Friday night! Whiskey tastings are also available through a special ticketed event located inside the North Texas Irish Festival.

Kids

Urchin Street at the North Texas Irish Festival is a special place where kids can find child-friendly entertainment, education, play and fun, including crafts, music, dance, storytelling, magic and mystery. Storytellers -- or “Shanachie” – will tell traditional Irish stories in the way that the Irish learned of their history for hundreds of years. 

Pets

The North Texas Irish Festival is pet-friendly! From dogs to rabbits, cats and even a squirrel or two, guests bring leashed pets to the festival to enjoy indoor and outdoor festivities. Need a new best pal? Animal rescue groups at the North Texas Irish Festival are happy to introduce you to animals to see if you might have a new “fur-ever” friend.

Hours, Admission and Location

Gates open on Friday evening, March 1, at 6 p.m.  Hours are 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday, March 1; 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 2; and 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 3.

Admission is FREE on Friday from 6 to 7 p.m.; $15 after 7 p.m. A one-day ticket is $25 on Saturday or Sunday at the gate, while a weekend pass is $45. Discount tickets are available at area Tom Thumb and Albertsons stores for $20 for a one-day ticket starting February 1. Children under 6 are FREE when accompanied by an adult family member. Seniors over 65 or current military members (with valid military ID) receive $5 off all gate prices. Pets are allowed in on a short leash. Leprechauns (in full ceremonial dress and carrying pot of gold) are FREE.

Tickets are available online now, at Tom Thumb and Albertsons stores (starting February 1), and at the gates on the days of the event. 

Parking is available in and around Fair Park, or guests can take the DART (take the Green Line!) to the front entrance of Fair Park and the North Texas Irish Festival. Detailed directions and parking tips are available at ntif.org. Interesting in volunteering at the festival? Please visit ntif.org for more information. 

Social

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Sponsors

In addition to the hundreds of volunteers who support the festival by volunteering their time, other local civic and corporate partners make this festival possible. The North Texas Irish Festival is presented by the Southwest Celtic Music Association. Additionally, the festival is sponsored by Guinness, Tom Thumb, Albertsons, NBC 5, Audacy, Visit Dallas and the Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District.

About the Southwest Celtic Music Association Inc.

The Southwest Celtic Music Association Inc. (SCMA), a 501(c)(3), is the producing organization for the North Texas Irish Festival. Approximately 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 Céilí. 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 Inc. 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 Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit cultural corporation headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and serves a five-state regional area. The organization maintains a web site at www.scmatx.org.

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