Your Ultimate Guide to the National Celtic Festival, Portarlington
Over the three-day long weekend in June (8, 9, 10 and 11) the historic seaside town of Portarlington is alive with music, energy and excitement. People come from near and far to celebrate and experience the rich and passionate Celtic culture – at the National Celtic Festival.
Portarlington plays host to international and national music acts, roaming performers, bars, food outlets, market stalls and workshops at this three-day mighty Celtic celebration. Spanning across and through the town, the festival uses a range of venues to bring you what has been deemed “Australia’s premier Celtic Festival”.
We want you to have a knees-up, hand-clapping and foot-tapping grand old time at this year’s epic three-day festival. To make sure this happens we have created, just for you, the “Ultimate Guide to the National Celtic Festival”.
Delivering the festival in a unique way, Portarlington utilises a myriad of venues within the town, fourteen in fact. There is a club to house headlining performances, concert halls to spin around in, cafes to refuel at, bars to refresh at, intimate venues to be wowed in. From one through to fourteen, every performance, workshop and spectacle are catered for perfectly in its specially chosen venue.
- The Celtic Club
- Parks Hall
- The Wine Bar
- St Patrick’s Hall
- The Club Room
- St John’s Church
- The Village Stage
- St Andrew’s Hall
- St Andrew’s Church
- The Neighbourhood House
- Portarlington by the Bay
- Upstairs @ The Grand
- Session Bars
- Portarlington Band Rotunda
Line-up, line-up, come one, come all for the international and national musical acts taking to the stages over the course of the three days. The list is extensive, the talent is fierce and the entertainment level is off the chart. Check it out……
Paul McKenna Band – “The best folk band to have come out of Scotland in the last twenty years” — New York Times
Brid Harper & Dermot Byrne – Visiting Australia for the first time, this duo will wow you with their talented fiddling and accordion stylings.
Altan – An award-winning, world-touring Irish folk band.
Paddy McHugh – A raw and real storyteller.
Mick McHugh – A “Voice of positivity that should be heard” – Andrea McCullagh (Irish Echo)
Damien Leith – singer/songwriter, producer, author, playwright and TV host personality. With eight studio albums, Damien is a seasoned and impeccable performer!
Hat Fitz and Cara – Folk and Blues with an authentic Gospel sound make for an electric performance by this duo.
Claddagh – Audience involvement is paramount at a Claddagh performance. They are known for taking delight in playing requested songs from the audience which in turns lends itself to a great and joyous sing-along.
Saoirse – This vibrant vocal and dance group will get your toes a-tapping and your hands a-clapping.
Gerry McKeague – Gerry brings his unique take on traditional Irish songs.
Colin Lillie – This Scottish-born voice will captivate your attention, just like he did to the judges this year on The Voice.
Declan Simpson, Beth McCracken, Benno Stephenson – This talented trio (on fiddle, flute and guitar) will captivate you with their world-class tunes.
Liminality – With their Celtic harp, violin, mandolin, keyboards and vocals this trio are truly magical.
Maggie Carty & Máirtín Staunton – Maggie on the banjo & vocals, Máirtín on the flute and vocals are reminiscent of Cash and Carter with an Irish folk twist.
Stu Tyrrell – A folk singer-songwriter hailing from Sydney, Stu’s performances are known for weaving Celtic Roots arrangements and Acoustic Metal covers. Brilliant!
The Drowsy Maggies – Four girls who will wow you with harmony-filled songs and fiddle tunes.
Maria Forde – Drawing music from her eight albums, Maria will entertain you with her musical storytelling.
Senior Cabrales – Creating a distinct and thrilling sound by combining Spanish bagpipes, fiddle, flute, mandolin, bouzouki and bodhran.
Siobhan Owen – An ethereal voice mixed the classical sound of the harp. Beautiful!
Amber – Four young and upcoming musicians from Melbourne and Geelong, Amber. They place a fresh spin on folk music.
Telenn Tri – Featuring harp, piano accordion, Irish bouzouki, guitar and Scottish fiddle, Telenn Tri perform music from deep in the heart of Brittany, to the Scottish Highlands.
Catherine Fraser Trio – Joining forces with Trent Arkleysmith (guitar) and Rachel Johnston (cello) this trio seamlessly bring a vibrant arrangement to the stage.
Claymore – Mixing traditional Scottish & Irish music with modern self-penned Celtic rock, Claymore deliver a high energy and exciting performance. Oh, and did we mention they have their own troupe of Highland Dancers!
Fiona Ross – An poignant voice that encapsulates the songs of the Scots.
Tim Scanlan Trio – Bringing you modern beats mixed with ancient tunes by teaming up with Japanese fiddler Mana Okubo and slide didgeridoo maestro Rhys Crimmin.
Zeon – Perfectly fusing vocals, bodhran, guitar, fiddle mandolin, banjo and drums, Zeon create a traditional and modern Irish sound, with a hint of folk, bluegrass and country tones.
Trouble in the Kitchen – The experience of 20 years playing together shines through when Trouble in the Kitchen take to the stage to perform traditional Irish music.
Rich Davies and the Low Road – “Think Springsteen meets the Pogues, glorious and visceral folk music” — Post To Wire
And let’s not forget the dancing troupes (Cathy’s Celtic Dance and Victorian Irish Dance Company), the pipes & drums spectacular (Celtic Piping Band), the fiddle feast (Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club and Adelaide Scottish Fiddle Club) and the mesmerising storytellers (Eric Purde and Niki Na Meadhra).
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
You can’t take in the culture without consuming some of their food, glorious food! Sample traditional Celtic food like haggis, black pudding, Cornish pasties and Scottish shortbread at the undercover market and food trucks- the market is not undercover. Then wash it all down with local wines and craft beers at The Village Stage which runs all day.
While feasting wander through the stalls displaying a myriad of goods and crafts for sale. It is free entry to explore the markets which will keep you entertained all day with buskers, martial arts competitions and dancing.
FOR THE YOUNG AND THE YOUNG AT HEART
With a Celtic festival fairyland, Vikings demonstration & display, workshops, dance party and Celtic martial arts, who wouldn’t want to let their inner child run free at the festival!
PARTICIPATION IS PARAMOUNT
Immerse yourself totally and utterly in the Celtic culture by participating in any number of the workshops and masterclasses on offer.
Come and try your hand (well actually lungs) at Celtic pipes, including Irish pipes, Highland bagpipes and the Scottish small pipes. Dance to the beat of your own drum and take part in the always-fun DrumWorx Workshop. Kick up your heels and dance your way through the Celtic culture; Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Breton.
The festival overflows with interactive and immersive experiences. Other activities include Irish fiddle, guitar, singing, Scottish fiddle, songwriting, storytelling AND Celtic languages
Well, we most certainly have made this component of the festival simple for you! It is as easy as 1, 2 and 3. Actually, hang on, it really is as simple as 1.
- Book a return ferry ticket. The Port Phillip Ferry departs from the Docklands and will drop you right into the heart of the festival at Portarlington. When you have had your Celtic fill, just jump on board your return ride and rest up as you are ferried comfortably and effortlessly back home.
It is best to plan your trip to the festival, it certainly draws a crowd (15,000 in fact)! Make the decision whether to day-trip it or make a long weekend out it and book yourself into some accommodation (there are plenty of options). The latter option ensures you don’t miss a single Celtic moment!
Not many things are FREE these days but we are delighted to inform you that children up to the age of 14 are free (they must, however, be accompanied by an adult). The Village Stage also offers free entertainment all day.
Adult, youth and concession (15-17 years) tickets range in price depending on the number of days wishing to attend the festival. Ticket purchases cover all festival venues. You can find out more or purchase your tickets here.
So there you have it! A jam-packed guide to the National Celtic Festival. A joyous festival that brings the life and soul of Celtic tradition to your very doorstep. Pop it in your diary (June 8-11) and start planning to ensure you make the most out of all on offer. As you can see there is a ton! We look forward to transporting you into the wonderful world of the Celtic culture!