Following record attendance three years in a row, the Michigan Irish Music Festival is expanding its grounds. The festival’s seventh covered stage will be positioned on The Point at Heritage Landing, space previously inaccessible to festival patrons. The Belfast Stage will feature live music, new dining options, beverage offerings, and more.
The Belfast Stage is named for the capital of Northern Ireland, a fitting choice since The Point is the northmost location at Heritage Landing. Festival-goers will find everything they need near the new stage, including powder rooms with running water, a Blarney Bucks station, a bar, and two food vendors new to the festival. One such vendor is downtown Muskegon favorite Curry Kitchen, who will be serving butter chicken, samosas, and other Indian cuisines. The second vendor, Camzie’s Pizza, will offer two-topping wood-fired pizzas, as well as an Irish pizza option.
The Michigan Irish Music Festival runs from September 13th-16th. MIMF will kick off the 2018 festival with a Pub Preview Party on Thursday night. The Pub Party will give patrons a preview of the weekend with food, beverage, and three bands in the pub tent only. Admission is $5 (cash only Thursday). The full festival opens Friday, featuring over 30 bands on seven covered stages and an extensive selection of food, beverages (domestic beer, Irish whiskey, Irish cider, and local craft beer), shopping, and cultural offerings – including some returning favorites:
- The Celtic Highland Games All day Saturday, the Celtic Highland Games return with competitors, both men and women, participating in the stone throw, sheaf toss, 16-lb. hammer toss, weight for height and distance, and the ever-popular caber toss (a log approx. 18’- 20’ long).
- John “Red” Shea The author of New York Times bestseller Rat Bastards returns to the festival after captivating audiences back in 2012. Shea talks about his life in the notorious Boston Irish mob, a compelling story of one of the most powerful Irish mobs in American history.
- Celtic Beard Bout Presented by Lumbertown Beard Barons, this family-friendly beard and mustache competition celebrates facial hair of all shapes and sizes and the cultural significance of beards in Ireland.
- Celtic Canines Come to meet the dog breeds that originated from the Emerald Isle and learn about what each breed was originally intended to do. If you’re interested in owning one for yourself, chat with the owners to find out if the breed is right for you!
- Limerick Contest Awaken the poet within you, or just come and enjoy one of Ireland’s most popular literary traditions. Not for the faint-of-heart, experience our local authors’ pithy and humorous takes on subjects such as sex, politics, love, death, and more.
- Learn How to Play the Bodhrán This all-ages hands-on presentation is a great introduction to the bodhrán, a percussion instrument traditionally made with a wooden body and goat-skin head and played with a double-headed stick.
- How to Speak Gaelic Through presentations and an ongoing exhibit by West Michigan Gaeltacht, patrons can enjoy learning and speaking the Irish language.
- Session Tent Festival musicians are joined by walk-in amateurs as they participate in impromptu jam sessions, carrying on the Irish tradition of “session music.” Bring your instrument and join in the fun!
- Wake House Visit Cathy Jo and Steve Smith for a glimpse into the cultural traditions of an actual Irish wake. Much more than a funeral, an Irish wake is a celebration of life with three days full of dancing, drinking, and singing.
Advance tickets and festival passes are available online through Wednesday, August 29th, after which tickets are only available at the Heritage Landing box office starting on Thursday, September 13th. Patrons can save $5 per ticket versus the gate price when they buy online. The festival offers an Early-In Free promotion on Friday only from 5-6PM, sponsored by Family Financial Credit Union. Other major sponsors of the festival include G&L, Van’s Car Wash, and Budweiser. For complete festival information, visit www.michiganirish.org.
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