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The normally quiet bayside town of Portarlington Victoria will come alive again this June long weekend to the sound of harmonies and hard shoes when The National Celtic Festival comes to town.
Running over four days from the 9 to 12 June, the festive extravaganza will showcase some of the world’s most culturally rich performers.
The first international headliners to be announced this year are Welsh five-piece Calan, Irish/US combo Kevin Crawford (flute), Patrick Doocey (guitar) and Colin Farrell (fiddle), and Scottish singer-songwriter Paul McKenna. Out from Ireland is traditional musician and teacher Daire Mulher, and Scottish Gaelic arts school Feis Rois will also feature.
Ocean Grove local Gallie is a critically acclaimed songwriter from Ireland and will perform at the festival.
His album ’The Occoquan River’ has made it to a number of Best of the Year lists from radio and press in both the US and Australia. Gallie is a natural raconteur whose performances have been getting rave reviews over the past year, “sublime lyrics, tremendous melodies, sung by a singer with a voice that is both soulful and incredibly expressive”, combine this with a killer story and you have the masterful art of Gallie and ’The Occoquan River’.
Those representing the local celtic circuit include folk storytelling icon Eric Bogle, and much loved all-Australian ensemble The Bushwackers. Melbourne’s Gavin siblings, An Gabhain will also play, alongside acoustic duo Anna and Jordan, Brisbane-based the Barleyshakers, the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club, and Australian Idol star Damien Leith – who returns to the festival for his second year in a row.
The National Celtic Festival is not limited to just music, with countless dance, theatre, comedy, literature and instrumental workshops included in the diverse range of activities on offer. Community arts project Lantunda will be one of two national theatre groups performing at the festival, bringing together a mix of shadow puppetry, stories and music focused on themes of place, belonging and Gaelic traditions in Australia.
Various troupes will be heel-and-toeing their way through the long weekend, including the internationally renowned Glenbrae Scottish Dancers and the Victorian Irish Dance Academy.
The festival uses a range of venues within the town to house these eclectic and energetic sessions, including community halls and spaces, the hotel, restaurants, cafes and churches. Marquees are also set up on the foreshore to provide additional venues – and a beautiful backdrop.
From young blood to veteran artists, bagpipes to bodhrans, there’s something for everyone in 2017. So grab a Guinness and head to www.nationalcelticfestival.com for further information and to book tickets.

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