In the decades from 1750 to 1850, families from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and the other countries comprising the Seven Celtic Nations settled in the Western North Carolina mountains.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., their influence and age-old traditions will be celebrated at the Asheville Celtic Fest, a new family-friendly indoor winter event featuring the food, drink, music, dress, craft, and athleticism of the Celtic heritage.
Festival-goers will enter at the 45,000-sq. ft. Davis Center on the grounds of the Western North Carolina Agriculture Center, across from the Asheville Airport, to another world where they’ll be immersed in the spirit of Celtic history, culture, and a castle façade of the famous Edinburgh castle in Scotland.
Advance tickets start at $12.50 for general admission ($5 for children under 12) and are available at the festival website: ashevillecelticfest.com.
Highlights of the event include:
• Celtic food and drink: Vendors will offer traditional foods like Scottish haggis, shepherd’s pie, Isle of Mull Farmhouse Cheese, sticky toffee, Welsh miner’s cakes, and other Celtic treats – plus mead, Irish coffee, and, of course, Asheville’s own Highland Brewing craft stouts and ales. A separately priced Whiskey Tent will offer tastings of Scotch and Irish Whiskey.
• Celtic music and entertainment: Bands including Scotland’s number one pipe and drum rock band, Albannach, providing live, soul-stirring Celtic music. Among the other performers will be The Grandfather Mountain Highlanders Pipe Band, Celtic folk rock band SYR, from Columbia, S.C., and the energetic Irish band, The Muckers, from Atlanta.
• The event will have an opening ceremony at 11 a.m., featuring the awakening sounds of the Knoxville Pipe and Drum Band. Other entertainment includes full-armored sword fighting by the Warriors of Ash and a high-stepping Irish dance troupe.
• Celtic arts and lifestyle: The festival will feature a Celtic village of artisans and craftspeople; Border Collie demonstrations; a genealogy research station; a custom kilt-maker; characters dressed in 1700s period costumes, and even an official festival tartan – the County Kilkenny Irish tartan that reflects the vivid colors of land, sky and sea, furnished by the Scottish Weaver.
• Celtic athleticism: Top-performing Highland Games athletes will wow the crowds by demonstrating incredible feats of strength, speed, agility and skill, much like what would have been witnessed in medieval Scotland.
The festival is organized by the nonprofit Asheville Celtic Group, founded for the primary purpose of creating various platforms for education on the subject of the historic Celtic cultural influences of settlers from the Seven Nations to the specific region of the Western North Carolina Mountains from 1750 to 1850.