The North Texas Irish Festival, one of the largest Irish festivals in the U.S., returns to Fair Park March 3-5. The family-friendly festival features live music, storytelling, and dance performances in the rich tradition of Irish and Celtic culture.
Chef demonstrations, beer, and whiskey tastings, horse shows, sheepherding demonstrations, animal rescue groups, and free arts and crafts for the kids are featured. This indoor-outdoor festival takes place rain or shine. The largest cultural celebration in DFW, the North Texas Irish Festival is produced annually by hundreds of volunteers. Some of them have volunteered for decades, often alongside generations of their families.
“It’s music, it’s food and drink, it’s dance, it’s people connecting with each other,” said Sheri Bush, president of the Southwest Celtic Music Association Inc. Their organization produces the North Texas Irish Festival and provides music and dance scholarships to local students. “There truly is something for everyone here. The volunteers who put their heart and soul into this festival are excited to share it with everyone.”
North Texas Irish Festival Fun Run
The North Texas Irish Festival Fun Run through the beautiful grounds of Fair Park starts at 8 a.m. March 4. This family-friendly fun run is perfect for runners or walkers of any age or ability, and also for dogs. 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 for those over 21. This non-timed 5K fun run will benefit Friends of Fair Park and the Southwest Celtic Music Association.
The roots of the North Texas Irish Festival are in its celebration of music. This year, the festival’s featured performers include national headliners Sliabh Notes, The Logues, Rory Makem, and Moors & McCumber. Celtic Aire, the premier Celtic and folk ensemble of the U.S. Air Force, are also featured. Regional performers include 5 Second Rule, Behan, Beyond the Pale, Boxing Robin, C. Michael Price, Cleghorn, Colin Urwin, Emerald Accent, Goldring, and Jiggernaut. Kinfolk, Plunk Murray, Reel Treble, River Driver, Slugger’s Rule, Sombati, The Selkie Girls, The Whalers, Threadneedle St, Tuatha Dea, Tullamore, Vintage Wildflowers, and Wolf Loescher are also included.
Who can resist the rhythmic magic of Irish step dancing? Celtic music comes alive in the steps of dancers of all ages, including those from The McLane School of Irish Dance and the Shandon-O’Regan Irish Dance Academy. Irish step dancers perform on a dedicated dance stage, and also with musical performers throughout the festival.
Chefs doing their modern take on traditional Celtic fare, or using traditional ingredients in new ways, delight audiences on the Chefs’ Stage. Don’t miss special mixology demonstrations on Friday night.
Kid Friendly & Pet Friendly Festival
Urchin Street at the North Texas Irish Festival is a special place where kids can find entertainment, education, play and fun, including crafts, music, dance, storytelling, and magic. Storytellers, or “Shanachie,” will perform traditional Irish stories in the way that the Irish learned their history for hundreds of years.
The North Texas Irish Festival is pet-friendly. From dogs to rabbits, cats and even a squirrel or two, attendees bring leashed pets to the festival to enjoy indoor and outdoor festivities. Animal rescue groups at the North Texas Irish Festival are eager to introduce you to animals so you might find a new “fur-ever” friend.
Irish Festival Hours
Gates open on Friday evening, March 3 at 6 p.m. Hours are 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on March 4; and 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on March 5.
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. 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, and Leprechauns (in full ceremonial dress and carrying a pot of gold) are free.
Tickets will be available online at NTIF.org, at Tom Thumb and Albertsons stores, and at the gates on the days of the event. Parking is available in and around Fair Park, or attendees 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. The public can call (214) 821-4173, or visit ntif.org for more information or to volunteer to work at the festival.
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, Jack FM, Visit Dallas, Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District, DART, Yuengling, Glendalough Distillery, Teelings, Aberfeldy, Leaf Filter, Trinity Cider and Limavady Irish Whiskey.
Southwest Celtic Music Association
The Southwest Celtic Music Association Inc. (SCMA) is the producing organization for the North Texas Irish Festival. Almost 1,000 volunteers 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. It 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. The association 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 scmatx.org.