Australian Celtic Festival

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Once again, Glen Innes will host the annual Celtic Festival. With heaps of fun activities for the entire family, be sure to visit the High Country for an entertaining few days – 28 April – 1 May. Mary Hollingworth tells us more …

Tell the readers; what is the Celtic Festival? 

Since 1992, crowds have descended on Glen Innes in New England High Country. They come for the Australian Celtic Festival – the country’s hallmark event celebrating Celtic culture and history. They are attracted by the unique Celtic experience, the opportunity to meet with friends and to enjoy famous country hospitality. Don’t take our word for it … Just ask the crowds of spectators, clans, artists and enthusiasts who flock from across Australia and overseas for the annual Australian Celtic Festival in Glen Innes on the first weekend in May, attracted by the unique Celtic experience.

Focal point for the festival is the dramatic setting of the Australian Standing Stones. The Australian Standing Stones are an array of granite monoliths on a hill on the eastern edge of town. The Australian Standing Stones are the official National Monument to Australia’s Celtic pioneers and recognised by the Celtic Council as the national gathering site for Celtic clans, cultural groups, dancers and performers from around the world.

Each year’s festival celebrates one of the Celtic nations, including the Isle of Man, Ireland, Brittany and Galicia, acknowledging Asturias, Scotland and Cornwall. You definitely don’t want to miss rising at dawn to experience the haunting skirl of pipes amidst the stones, which are often shrouded in autumn mists. But, especially the opportunity to meet with friends and to enjoy famous country hospitality merely a few hours’ drive from where you live in the New England region is one not to be missed in 2016.

What activities does the festival include?

 The festival attracts clans, cultural groups, dancers and performers from around the world. Entertainment includes a street parade, kirking of the tartan, massed pipe bands, strong man events, yard dog trials, children’s entertainment, a fun run, dancing, flag raising ceremonies, poet breakfasts, market stalls and Celtic foods. The following link: has the programme of events, venues, and cost. In 2016 there are in excess of 185 activities during the festival.

How long has the festival been running?

 The festival has been running for 24 years, since 1992, and was established to annually celebrate the unique significance of the Australian Standing Stones. Equally important is the opportunity to recognise the contribution of Celtic culture. The Australian Standing Stones began as an ambitious project by a small, dedicated group of citizens who wanted to mark Glen Innes’ Celtic heritage.

What can newcomers to the festival expect?

The 2016 Festival Committee have arranged the most unique and diverse schedule of events: with overwhelming local support, resulting in over185 events and activities over five days. From peyote beading to local wine tasting, acoustic performances, buskers, and school performances, the entire community will be celebrating in one way or another.

The week culminates in the packed weekend festival at the Standing Stones, featuring dancers, haunting tunes, jousters, re-enactment villages, boutique market stalls, Celtic dog Championships, strong man event, vintage motorbike and Jaguar car display. There will even be an onsite wedding, as a well known local couple take the first ever opportunity to “Tie the Knot- Celtic Style” at 11am on Saturday 30th at the Standing Stones. 2016 is the year for your family and friends to take the day trip to Glen Innes.

 Saturday night will feature an onsite concert from the hugely popular “Brothers 3”. Or, you may like to attend the prestigious Australian Celtic Music Awards gala dinner at the Glen Innes & District Service Club. Better still, stay the night or two with family and friends at one of the many accommodation options in Glen Innes: for a whole festival experience. It is the most exciting and perfect family festival for your family in 2016, and a few hours’ drive from where you live in the New England region.

 The Glen Innes community has overwhelmingly embraced the 2016 festival, with the vibrant CBD featuring a newly refurbished Town Square as the venue for the official opening on Friday 29th April. Enjoy the experience of our unique main street shopping, with many specialised boutiques with theme windows, dine at the many cafés, stop and listen to the buskers, buy some local art, or perhaps sign up for one of the many workshops.

Local pubs and clubs will be overflowing with Celtic sprit and celebrations, providing a plethora of entertainment for festival followers – mostly free. The 2016 Australian Celtic Festival naming rights sponsors, The Glen Innes & District Service’s Club, will host the inaugural Australian Dance Championship, popular “Murphy’s Pigs” on Friday, April 29th at 7:30pm (free) along with the perennially popular “Highlander” on May 1st, Sunday night at 7:30pm (free).

Weekend passes and all tickets are available now at

New England High Country residents are urged to take advantage of the special Sunday pass particularly. Remember also that it is FREE for all school aged children to attend. Pre purchase of your festival passes and tickets is strongly advised, as the interest in the 2016 festival is exceeding all expectations.

Come experience this unique festival in the spectacularly colourful autumn that is a highlight of our cool New England climate. We are ready to welcome you and your family and friends in 2016 for the 23rd Australian Celtic Festival, with tickets now available at: – alternatively, ring (02) 6730 2410 and speak to me [Mary]; I will be very happy to assist with any festival query.

Plans for the future?

 2017 is the 25th and silver anniversary celebrating Ireland. There are already plans and discussions underway to acknowledge some of the original festival contributors, but especially securing a headline world class performance. We will keep you posted for the 25th anniversary celebrations in 2017.

Thanks Mary.

One Response to Australian Celtic Festival

  1. michelle johnsson says:

    would love to bring a group diwn from brisbane for the 2017 festival. please keep us informed.

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