The Tartan Day South Highland Games and Celtic Festival returns to the Midlands

Lexington, SC (Jimmy Poluszek) - The Tartan Day South Highland Games and Celtic Festival is an annual celebration consisting of a four-day event honoring Celtic heritage from March 22 to 25. The event will begin with a kick-off party at the British Bulldog Pub in Columbia then moves to Lexington County with a “Celtic Commotion” Concert at the Icehouse Amphitheater in Lexington on March 23. The main event is scheduled for the next day in the Historic Columbia Speedway in Cayce. Finally, the festival will end with “Kirkin’ of the Tartans” at the Riverwalk Amphitheater in West Columbia. Though the event is meant to honor the history of the Scottish, Irish, and Welsh here in South Carolina, everyone, regardless of their background, will enjoy the event!

This festival was created in celebration of Tartan Day, a holiday enacted by Congress 20 years ago to honor the achievements of Irish Americans. It is a nationwide event with several other festivals occurring across the country. The Tartan Day South festival is one of the largest, according to the organizer of the event, John Banks. “Our goal is to celebrate a culture you don’t see every day, but there is something for everyone,” he said during an interview regarding his hopes for this year’s festival.

This festival first began in 2011 and has seen a total of 60,000 patrons attend every year since then. Attendees to the main event can expect such Celtic charms as Highland athletics, pipe bands, sheep dog herding, archery, and even a Quidditch Tournament. Traditional Scottish and Irish foods, drinks, and dancing will be offered along with world class Celtic Music. The Celtic Commotion Concert will feature four bands: Lift Irish Band, Barleyjuice, Tuatha Dea, and Winged Ambassadors. “Kirkin’ of the Tartans,” the event on the March 25, is a musical tradition which traces back to 1746 when most Scottish traditions, such as speaking Gaelic and wearing a tartan, were banned by English Parliament. However, despite this, many Highlanders began to hold events where such traditions were celebrated in secret despite the threat of being imprisoned or exiled. Today, “Kirkin’ of the Tartans” honors Highlander patriotism, faithfulness and strong independence by the displaying of tartans and the public parade of the clans to the sound of the bagpipe.

Tickets for the main event on Saturday, March 24 are $15 for adults but free for kids 12 and under. Parking will be an extra $5. “Celtic Commotion” will begin on March 23 at 6:00 p.m. Gates for the main event will open at 8:30 a.m. the next. The “Kirkin’ of the Tartans” on March 25 will begin at 11:00 a.m. Additional information can be found at their website: www.tartandaysouth.com.

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