A Celtic experience like no other set in the stunning Glen Innes Highlands, New South Wales. Witness the township embrace their Celtic Heritage and join in the festivities held among the Australian Standing Stones national monument. Glen Innes, located in regional New South Wales, proudly hosts the annual Australian Celtic Festival as one of their premier events on the first weekend in May, drawing visitors from all over Australia.
This year marks the 30th anniversary event and the theme celebrates the Celtic nations of Brittany, Cornwall and Wales with an action-packed program from the 28th of April until the 1st of May.
The main event
Enjoy the major attractions at the Australian Standing Stones on Saturday the 30th of April and Sunday the 1st of May. Catch the live action jousting tournament or highland games and strongman competition where you can compete for the 2022 title. Keep the kids entertained with loads of activities, browse Celtic inspired market stalls, meet your clan and learn about your Celtic heritage or simply enjoy the broad range of Celtic music, dance or traditional fashions. The festival has an exciting line-up with many crowd favourites returning to the stages and a variety of soft delicate melodies and big Celtic rock sounds. Ella Roberts, Murphy’s Pigs, Highlander, Limerick and The Gathering are just some of the talented and award-winning artists performing.
In a festival first, you’ll witness the launch of Tara from the creators of A Taste of Ireland. This ultra-modern Irish dance show features all-female performers and stages untold stories of the ancient warrior women of Ireland. This show is a must see along with the many other dance performances throughout the weekend. Those interested in the history of the ancient Celts and Vikings can’t go past the re-enactment village and jousting demonstrations. The New England Medieval Arts Society (NEMAS) is a social community offering a look at Celtic and Viking culture from over 1000 years ago. Explore the village and find cooking stews, roasting meats, traditional games, arts and crafts and the practise of military drills plus various demonstrations and battles throughout the day. Nova Hollandia will also be demonstrating live jousting tournaments on horseback. Highland Muscle will be leading the Highland Games and Strongman competition with traditional heavy events for both women and men. A chance for adults to see if they have what it takes to take out the title in putting the stone, caber toss, and farmers walk with prizes up for grabs.
After a full day of adventure kick back at the Boar and Drum Bar and listen to the music with old friends and new in the welcoming atmosphere.
Events happening around town
During festival week there is a range of fun events happening around Glen Innes for visitors and the community, catering to all interests and ages. On Thursday the 28th of April, the Australian Celtic Festival hosts the official 100,000 Welcomes Concert at the Glen Innes and District Services Club. This is a taster of what’s to come and a popular event for early arrivers featuring performances by Asleep at the Reel, North and Elsewhere, Cape Byron Celtic Dance, Flashjack and Tara.
There will be a medieval long table dinner and entertainment on Friday 29th April with delicious meats and accompaniments in a rustic setting at the Australian Standing Stones and the Cantorian Sydney Male Voice Choir will be performing at the Glen Innes Chapel Theatre as part of their tour on Saturday the 30th April. Tickets are required for these events as spaces are limited. There are also some fantastic, free, family friendly activities to enjoy like the Street Parade where the official opening ceremony is held in the historic town centre and the crowds gather to watch the massed pipe bands, clans and societies marching in solidarity. Following the parade those who aren’t heading up to the festival can grab a bite from the main street and head to King Edward Park with their picnic blankets to join in the free entertainment at the Rotunda.
Find a place to stay
Glen Innes has many accommodation options to suit all budgets, from the humble motel to the luxurious and secluded farm stay, there’s also a great range of caravan parks and some free camping areas. There’s also the option of seeing more of the beautiful New England High Country region in its peak Autumnal season by staying in Glen Innes’ surrounding villages and neighbouring towns that are under an hour’s drive to the festival.
Tickets for Australian Celtic Festival official events are on sale from 1st March 2022, available online at www.australiancelticfestival.com where you can also find the full program of events happening around Glen Innes or follow Australian Celtic Festival on Facebook and Instagram.