I am cautious about Celtic fairs. I’ve been to far too many of them that are more flea market and carnival food meets Ren Faire than a real Celtic gathering. So I was thrilled when the Austin Celtic Festival was everything it promised.
The musicians were amazing…it was hard to believe that the small admission fee ($15 at the gate, $12 in advance online and kids under 13 free) covered the incredible music. My personal favorites, The Tea Merchants, made me forget that I was in Texas at all. I seriously expected to look out over rolling green hills or peat bogs instead of a slightly dry park. Harpist Thomas (Doc) Grauzer‘s music was haunting, and the Celtic dance bands made it hard to stand still.
I loved the Viking encampment (ok, I admit it…I did think Vikings wore horned helmets! Blame it on Hagar the Horrible!). Did you know that they typically carried a nail kit and comb? Who knew? Vikings were the first metrosexuals!
There were dozens of booths offering Celtic jewelry, kilts and other gifts (NOT good for my budget! It was all so tempting!), and lots of demos (sheep herding, or rather goose herding, weaving, dancing). There were also Celtic music workshops for guitar and violin players and Gaelic language classes.
But my favorite part of the whole event was the Irish storyteller Máirtín de Cógáin. His tales had us all laughing — and had me wishing I could meet the characters from his town back home.
This Festival is an annual gathering…2012 is its 16th year. I can’t wait for the 17th!