Tourism Group Announces Irish Festival Season in Massachusetts
(Milton) – The Boston Irish Tourism Association released its annual schedule of Irish, Scottish and Celtic festivals and concerts taking place throughout Massachusetts this summer.
The outdoor festivities celebrate the state’s vibrant Irish culture and heritage, and feature many of the world’s best traditional musicians, singers and dancers.
“Americans and Canadians looking for the very best Irish music don’t have to travel to Europe this summer – they can find it right here in Massachusetts,” said Michael P. Quinlin, president of Boston Irish Tourism Association.
“And because of how Irish music and dance have integrated with other traditions over many generations, these festivals also feature a lively mix of Cape Breton, Scottish, Appalachian, Canadian and American folk music too.”
The festivals run from June through September and take place in every part of the state, from the Boston area to western Massachusetts, and from Merrimack Valley and Worcester to Cape Cod.
The Irish festivals are part of a larger list of ethnic activities being promoted by the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT), the state’s official tourism bureau, which has just introduced WorldFest, a collection of ethnic events throughout the state.
“There are so many wonderful, exciting and affordable events happening throughout Massachusetts this summer,” said Betsy Wall, executive director of MOTT. “Massachusetts residents don’t have to travel far distances, at great expense, to experience a new and exciting culture. There’s a whole world waiting for them in their own back yard.”
Kicking off the Irish festivities is the new Worcester Irish Music Festival, June 14-15, at the city’s refurbished Hibernian Center. Lt. Governor Tim Murray will join Irish community leaders and music lovers from Central Massachusetts to celebrate Irish-American heritage dating back to the 18th century. Canada’s Celtic rock band, Seven Nations, is headlining, along with New York City’s Irish punk band Black 47.
Now in its sixth year, the Cape Cod Celtic Festival, June 26-29, is modeled after the successful Celtic Colours Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This year’s line-up features fiddle maestro Seamus Connolly, piping master Paddy Keenan and Cape Breton Gaelic singer Mary Jane Lamond.
The Blackstone Valley Celtic Festival, July 12, is fast becoming “the place where up and coming Celtic performers can have a forum,” says Jeannie Hebert, head of the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce.
On July 19 the 15th annual Glasgow Scottish Lands Festival takes place in Florence, MA, featuring an all-day gathering of the clans, piping and athletic competitions, and music from Enter the Haggis and other bands.
The state’s largest Irish festival is the ICONS Festival hosted by the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton on September 12-14, 2008. The three-day festival combines the best Irish musicians with their counterparts from other traditions, says Brian O’Donovan, festival director.
“In addition to Irish traditional acts like Liam Clancy, Paul Brady, Lunasa and Solas, for example, this year we have a terrific group from Quebec, Le Vent Du Nord, who play distinctly French Canadian music, with the same joie de vivre that exists in Irish music,” O’Donovan says.
“We will also have offerings from Cape Breton, Scotland and Brittany.”
Nearby Rhode Island also boasts two excellent festivals: the Blackstone River Theatre Celtic Festival on July 19 and the Newport Waterfront Irish Festival on August 30-September 1, 2008. The Celtic Fest at Blackstone River Theatre is part of a year-round program that brings top Celtic bands to perform, according to director Russell J. Gusetti. And the Newport Festival, now in its 11th year, features Eileen Ivers and other top acts over Labor Day weekend.
In addition to the festivals, a number of Irish performances are taking place at outdoor concert venues, including the Agganis Arena, Bank of America Pavilion in Boston, Cape Cod Melody Tent, the Lowell Summer Music Series at Boarding House Park, and the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset.
The Boston Irish Tourism Association was formed in 2000 to promote cultural tourism year round. It publishes three travel, food and culture guides each year, and has developed an Irish Heritage Trail (www.irishheritagetrail.com) that highlights Irish landmarks throughout Boston and around the state.
For further details on the festivals and concerts, as well as other Irish and cultural activities, hotel packages, gift shops and Irish pubs, visit www.IrishMassachusetts.com. For details on the state’s WorldFest activities, visit www.massvacation.com.
Irish, Scottish and Celtic Festivals in Massachusetts, 2008
Compiled by the Boston Irish Tourism Association
Worcester Irish Music Festival
Cape Cod Celtic Festival
Various Locations Cape Cod, MA
Western Mass Highland Games & Celtic Festival
Blackstone Valley Celtic Festival
Indian Ranch Performance Center
Blackstone River Theater Celtic Festival
Glasgow Scottish Lands Festival
Florence (Northampton), MA
John Boyle O'Reilly Club
August 30 - September 1
Newport Waterfront Irish Festival
Newport Yacht Club, RI
Sons of Erin Irish Festival
ICONS Festival / Irish Connections
Irish Cultural Centre of New EnglandCanton, MA
Upcoming Irish, Scottish and Celtic Concerts in Massachusetts, 2008
Compiled by the Boston Irish Tourism Association
Celtic Thunder (October 6 & 28)
Bank of America Pavilion
South Boston Waterfront
Young Dubliners & Jethro Tull (August 4)
Cape Cod Melody Tent
Hyannis, Cape Cod
John McDermott (July 6), Saw Doctors (August 14), Comedian Brian Regan (August 21)
The High Kings (September 13-14)
Lowell Summer Music Series
Boarding House Park, Lowell
Richard Thompson (June 28), Bela Fleck (July 17), Saw Doctors (August 7), Hothouse Flowers (August 15)
River Run Concert Series
Pilgrim Memorial Park, Downtown Plymouth
Tribute to Tommy Makem (August 27)
South Shore Music Circus
Cohasset (South Shore)
John McDermott (July 5), Saw Doctors (August 13), Comedian Brian Regan (August 24)
Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul (July 4)