10 Things to Expect from Irish Fest’s 20th Anniversary

Indy’s about to throw its annual Celtic celebration this month—make sure you’re prepared.

More than 30,000 people are expected to attend the 20th annual Indy Irish Fest when it returns to Military Park September 17–20. The four-day celebration of the city’s Celtic heritage will feature four stages of live music and step-dancing by local and natonal favorites, as well as performances from Ireland-based groups.

Advance tickets are on sale for $10 at IndyIrishFest.com and at Marsh Supermarkets, Nine Irish Brothers, The Golden Ace, and Claddagh Irish Pub.

After 20 years, this completely volunteer-run festival has learned a thing or two about throwing a good old Irish party. Here are 10 things the Indy Irish Fest has mastered:


1. Hearty Cooking

Think fine, local Irish pub fare from Claddagh, Scout’s, Ben’s Soft Pretzels, and more. There will be plenty of stew, shepherd’s pie, and bread pudding for everyone.

Irish stew 🙌🏻

A photo posted by Natalia Mcdonald (@natmacnz) on


2. Shopping

If you’re in the mood for browsing, visit one of the more than 25 vendors selling wares at the Irish Market. It’s a great way to kill time in between events and bring home that special thing you didn’t know you needed.


3. Educated Entertainment

If you want to get your sports fix, watch hurling exhibitions (essentially the Irish version of field hockey) by the Indianapolis Gaelic Athletic Association. Or, if you’re in the mood to learn something new, discover more about Irish heritage though cultural exhibits on Irish-American presidents, origins of popular Irish songs, or the Celtic saints. No matter where you wander, you’re going to experience immersion in Irish culture at every turn.


4. Sunday Traditions

On Sunday at 10:30 a.m., the Archbishop of Indianapolis, Joseph W. Tobin, will hold a traditional Celtic mass. If you bring at least three canned goods for the St. Vincent dePaul Food Bank, you’ll even get free admission.


5. The Wild

On Saturday and Sunday, Silly Safari, a crowd-pleasing favorite from Irish Fest 2014, is returning for a second year. Silly Safari facilitates games between audience participants and a wide assortment of things that crawl, walk, slither, or fly. Their show is a hands-on opportunity to learn about animal conservation and responsible pet ownership, but don’t worry—you don’t actually have to touch the snakes.



6. Entertaining Your Kids

If your kid needs to burn off some energy before you go crazy, bring them to the Wee Folk Area, where they can take part in crafts, storytelling, a coloring contest, and face painting. Special features even include a Blarney Castle moonwalk and an Olympic run.



7. Red Hair

If your wee one has been gifted with those traditional Irish looks, you’ve probably gotten a few comments about it at the grocery store. Now, you can have them show off those iconic features in a competition for “Reddest Hair, Greenest Eyes, Most Freckles” on Sunday.



8. Puppy Love

From sheep-herding exhibitions to a tent full of canines, man’s best friend will be on display in all sorts of Celtic shapes and sizes, including Irish Water Spaniels, Irish Wolfhounds, and Kerry Blue Terriers. There’s plenty of love for everyone.



9. Artistic Expression

Barry “Jazz” Finnegan is an award-winning artist straight out of Dublin known for his large-scale charcoal portraits. This year, he’s helping Irish Fest commemorate its 20th anniversary in style by creating work specifically for the festival.

10. Fiddling

Do you like rock? They’ve got plenty of rock. Celtic rock bands Black Irish Texas and The Wild Colonial Bhoys will be playing on Thursday’s preview pub concert night for a $5 entrance fee. Are you a fan of more traditional Irish fare? There will be live music and step dancing on four stages. Well-loved bands such as Off Kilter, Maken & Spain, Rory Makem, Mckpeak, Scythian, and Socks in the Frying Pan will all be playing throughout the festival.