Chicago says Goodbye to Summer with Bagpipes and Kilts

For hundreds of years, the city of Chicago has been a melting pot of many diverse cultures.  One of these cultures, collectively known as the Celts, has inhabited Chicago since its birth as a city, having witnessed its growth from a tiny trading post into the sprawling metropolis it is today. And as that time passed and the city changed, the Celtic community maintained a strong bond with Chicago, helping to nurture and grow the city into what it is today. So, to honor the strong community that helped make it great, the city of Chicago will celebrate its Celtic heritage with its annual Celtic Fest at Grant Park on September 15 and 16.

Largely consisting of people from the Irish, Scottish and Welsh regions in Great Britain, the Celtic culture is beautiful medley of varying art and ideas that collectively give it such a unique style. This will certainly be reflected at the Chicago Celtic Fest, as people from all of the Celtic nations will come together and share their culture with the entire city of Chicago.

Contestants prepare for the caber toss as part of the Scottish Heavy Athletics Competition.



This year's Celtic Fest is bigger than ever, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in a truly intriguing culture. Among the many events to take place at this year's festival, a series of competitions in some of the Celtic nations favorite, and oldest, sports will take place at Butler Field all weekend long. Starting with the Scottish Heavy Athletics Competition at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 15 (as well as Sunday, September 16), visitors will witness amazing feats of strength as some of the area’s strongest persons compete in a variety of games, each with its own, unique test of the contestants muscular fortitude. It will surely be a sight to see as these contestants bring one of Scotland’s oldest traditions to the Windy City.

Then, at 2:30 p.m. the Chicago Youth Gaelic Football Club will demonstrate one of Ireland’s favorite sports by playing an exhibition game of Gaelic football that is sure to be exciting. And on Sunday, September 16 at 2:30 p.m., be sure to return to Butler Field as the Chicago Youth Gaelic Football Club switches gears and plays a rousing game of hurling. Also one of Ireland’s preferred pastimes, hurling is a sport that --for the uninitiated-- is like soccer with a dash of baseball and basketball thrown in the mix to create a truly exciting game.

A crowd watches a sheep herding demonstration at last year's festival.



But, aside from the sporting events, Butler Field will also host the extremely popular sheepherding demonstrations. Now with two shows daily at noon and 2:00 p.m., be sure to stop by and watch as visitors are shown how to coerce some very uncooperative sheep.

The Celtic Men in Kilts competition.



Then, after the sporting events have concluded, it’s time for the Celtic Fest’s beauty contest with a twist. An annual favorite, the Celtic Men in Kilts contest is definitely a must see event.  Open to the public, the Celtic Men in Kilts contest will discover who in Chicago truly has what it takes to wear a kilt, and who should keep on dreaming. Held at the Celtic Crossroad Stage on both Saturday and Sunday at 4:45 p.m., visitors can join in the contest by registering the day of the event from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the Media Tent located at Columbus and Jackson. New this year to the contest will be live music provided be Here Be Dragons, whose music will provide a Welsh flair to the popular event.  

Visitors can enjoy Celtic music and dancing at the festival.



Although it might not seem like it, the Chicago Celtic Fest does have a quieter side. Along with the sports and contests, the festival’s Celtic Art Fair offers traditional Celtic items such as beautiful hand-knit Irish wool sweaters, hand-crafted jewelry, photographs, paintings, and other great one-of-a-kind gift ideas. Along with the art fair, don’t forget to stop by the harp tent; the dance stage, complete with Highland and Irish step dancing; the Celtic Kids Oasis, or enjoy a quiet break at the coffee and tea garden.  Also, at 11:15 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily, don’t miss the bagpipe parade as it makes its way through the festival grounds.

The bagpipe parade will occur twice daily at the festival.



But what would a Celtic festival be without the music. This year’s festival will feature nine stages of national and international musicians representing all seven Celtic nations.  Some of the highlights at this year’s festival include Lunasa and Jon Langford on Saturday, September 15 and Searson, Salsa Celtica and the Irish Rocker Damien Dempsey on Sunday, September 16. 

An Irish step dancing performance.



The Chicago Celtic Fest is located in Grant Park and is free to the public. It runs from 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on September 15 and 16. For more information on this event, please call the Mayor’s Office of Special Events at 312-744-3315 or visit egov.cityofchicago.org.

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