The Gathering Celtic festival returns to Ipswich for its 30th clan celebration

Assemble your clans and dust off your tartan – The Gathering is back in 2021 for a rollicking celebration of Celtic music, culture, food and performance on Sunday 23 May at Ipswich Turf Club.

Queensland’s largest Celtic festival, The Gathering honours Celtic heritage and traditions spanning from Scotland and Ireland to Wales, Cornwall and the Isle of Man in England and across to Brittany in France and the ancient regions of Gallaecia and Astures in Spain.

Now in its 30th year, The Gathering is a fun, interactive and family-friendly day out to discover lost Celtic arts and let your Celtic spirit run free.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said Ipswich City Council is delighted to host The Gathering for its 30th anniversary after $24.8 million in upgrades to the Ipswich Events and Entertainment Centre, incorporating the Ipswich Turf Club.

“Ipswich has such a rich and long cultural history and I am honoured to be asked to act as your Chieftan of the Clan for The Gathering,” Mayor Harding said.

“Fortunately we are in a period of relative peace and my role will be far less complex and challenging, but I look forward to this wonderful opportunity to take part in the festival and celebrate the pipe bands, games and dancing competitions.

“We are lucky to have such passionate people and first-class facilities in Ipswich to continue this tradition and I look forward to the day The Gathering becomes a major cultural festival on the Australian calendar and a multi-day event right here in our proud city.”

Festival Director Nick Tomkins said The Gathering is the perfect event for all ages with everything from workshops to learn the Welsh heritage of local Ipswich mining settlements to hands-on demonstrations of Spanish fencing and traditional dances and even joining the strong men and women for the Highland Games.

“People don’t want to go to a festival to just sit and watch all day – people are naturally curious and adventurous,” Mr Tomkins said.

“The Celtic cultures have so much to discover and we have brought it all together so people can truly unleash their Celtic spirits and enjoy the Queensland outdoors in historic Ipswich.”

Highlights of the festival program include myriad musical and dance performances from traditional to folk-rock, Celtic flavours sourced from Scotland to Spain, historic reenactments, clan activities and all the pomp and pageantry of the Highland Games.

In the spirit of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, festival-goers can witness the colour and ceremony of the Queensland Pipe Band Spectacular, featuring 250 pipe band competitors from around Australia, while the Main Stage will be headlined by Celtic folk-rock bands The Barleyshakes, The Jar, Limerick and The Ceilidh Clan with Ishka in the Ceilidh Centre.

For the rhythmically inclined, watch Morris folk dancers, learn the Highland Fling, or get hands-on with Celtic drumming and bagpipes workshops with the Greater Ipswich College of Piping and Drumming. Attendees can even sing a Celtic song on the Buskers’ Stage.

If you’re ‘game’, sample the offal-loaded national dish of Scotland, haggis, dig into a delicious bowl of Spanish paella and enjoy a hearty Irish stew at the variety of Celtic food stalls available on site.

Other Celtic-flavoured activities include patting a ‘hairy coo’ aka a fluffy Highland cow or an Irish wolfhound, learning how to weave tartan and tossing a caber with the pros at the Highland Games.

“After the ups and downs of a COVID-impacted 2020, we are so pleased to present The Gathering for 2021, thanks to the support of Ipswich City Council, Tourism and Events Queensland and the Queensland Government,” Mr Tomkins said.

“We know everyone is ready to ‘Discover their Celtic Spirit’ at The Gathering.”

The Gathering has Queensland Heath approval for 9,500 festival attendees and will operate a COVID-safe environment within current government guidelines.

For more information visit The Gathering website here.

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