For a weekend in early March, Fair Park in Dallas — which you might at first think of in connection with Big Tex at the Texas State Fair and big time football at the Cotton Bowl — takes on another aspect: it is home to the the North Texas Irish Festival.
The NTIF is one of the largest Celtic festivals in the country. Though Texas is not often thought of in connection with Irish culture, people from Ireland have been coming to the lone star state since the 1700s, and there’s a long standing and active interest in Celtic culture in the southwest.
There is Guinness and shepherd’s pie at the NTIF, and along side there are funnel cakes, egg rolls, and Shiner Bock, as well. Taking account of the changeable Texas spring weather, there are many things for kids and adults to do in the sunny (well, when it is sunny) plaza and indoors at the main stages as well, including storytelling to listen to, Irish travel information to explore, books and jewelry on sale, Irish dance, and of course, loads and loads of music. The festival always is a draw for regional Celtic musicians, this year including Clandestine and Beyond the Pale.
One of the reasons it’s a top festival, though, is the quality of international performers festival organizers are able to invite to Dallas. This year, as the festival takes place on the first weekend in March, Tommy Sands brings his incisive and lyrical songs of Irish history and social justice, Dervish puts the west of Ireland spin on Bob Dylan songs and high flying jigs and reels, Cathie Ryan brings insightful and heartfelt original songs and songs from the tradition, and Altan adds fiery fiddle playing and ballads in Irish to what is a top notch mix that will deepen your understanding of Irish music.
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