CelticFest Vancouver brings the party downtown this Saturday

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      (This story is sponsored by CelticFest Vancouver)

      Some celebrations are by design bigger than others, and this year’s edition of CelticFest Vancouver is a major one. Western Canada’s biggest showcase of Celtic pride is marking two decades of spotlighting Irish art, music, dance, games, sports, and more. 

      The 20th anniversary of CelticFest Vancouver is, as always, about community. One of the most anticipated events being the free, all-ages St. Patrick’s Day Festival running from 10am to 9pm on March 16 at šxʷƛ̓ ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square just north of the Vancouver Art Gallery. In the spirit of a great night in Dublin’s fabled Temple Bar district, music will be a featured attraction.

      Making their way from Tullamore, County Offaly to the West Coast as the day’s headlining act is multi-platinum Irish pop juggernaut Chasing Abbey, whose hits include the platinum-certified “Oh My Johnny Banks of the Roses”.

      CelticFest attracts thousands of visitors each year to its all-day St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Downtown Vancouver, happening this year on Saturday, March 16. In addition to Chasing Abbey, musical performers include homegrown heroes Matty & The Barge Boys and Irish import Paul Caldwell, a singer-songwriter who’s earned major accolades for injecting traditional Irish ballads with beautifully nuanced Canadian folk. Spinning tales will be storyteller Jess Murray, with members of the O’Brien School of Irish Dance taking to the floorboards with traditional jigs and more.

      After hitting the curated Celtic-themed craft market, and marvelling at the majesty of the on-site Irish Wolf Hounds, St. Patrick’s Day Festival celebrants can enjoy one of the on-site international food trucks, or kick back with a pint at the beer gardens. Those with little ones will want to check out the family zone featuring face painting and games. 

      Need another reason to get excited about the 20-year anniversary of CelticFest Vancouver? All the downtown festivities are free. As Alan Cosgrave, vice president of the CelticFest Vancouver Board, says: “In Canada, March is Irish Heritage Month. Irish people have been making their home in Vancouver for decades now and our history here is growing. We’re pleased we were able to keep this year’s festival a free event so everyone can celebrate.”

      Offsite events for CelticFest Vancouver include a March 16 Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir performance at Christ Church Cathedral, where the program will be steeped in tradition with classics like “Loch Lomand”, “Danny Boy”, “Skye Boat Song”, and “Cape Breton Lullaby”.

      The CelticFest Vancouver fun starts Thursday, March 14 with a comedy night hosted by self-anointed “Irish comedian in Vancouver” Amy Walsh. Acts on the undercard at Donnellan’s pub on Granville include Darragh Bourke, LJ Quirke, Cass Furman, Daragh Turner, Rory Dunn, and Niki Mohrdar, with the jokes guaranteed to centre around having an Irish accent abroad, leprechauns, and having the craic living in Vancouver. 

      A highlight of every CelticFest Vancouver is the always sold-out St. Patrick’s Day Ceilidh at the Hellenic Community Centre on Arbutus, with long-running Vancouver Celtic faves Blackthorn throwing one of the best bashes of the year on March 15.

      Continuing with the laughs, the Rio in East Van hosts What’s the Craic? A Night of Irish Devilry on March 16 featuring burlesque, comedy, games, and music, all inspired by the “spirit and lore of the Emerald Isle”.

      Two decades in, Western Canada’s biggest showcase of Celtic culture is not only prouder than ever, but just getting going. 

      For more details on the free festival schedule and ticketed events check out the CelticFest Vancouver website at www.celticfestvancouver.com and find them on social @celticfestvan.