If pipers, drummers and kilts, Scotland the Brave and the Mull of Kintyre ignite a passion in you, make a note to be in Knysna next February for the annual Celtic Festival.
This exciting festival featuring top Celtic music, Highland and Irish dancers from all over South Africa, Highland games and massed bands is a highlight on the Garden Route events calendar. It celebrates and promotes Celtic and Bluegrass music and showcases local musicians including Knysna’s own pipe band.
“Celtic” refers to the languages and respective cultures of the seven Celtic nations, which are Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Brittany and Galicia in Spain. Ireland and Scotland are the most widely recognised Celtic nations and their culture of dance, music, food and art are generally celebrated with bonfires, harvest festival, storytelling and music and dance festivals.
A weekend jig
At the Knysna Celtic Festival the celebration starts on Friday evening with the annual Ceilidh (a traditional Scottish or Irish spontaneous pub evening) at Loerie Park on George Rex Drive alongside the Knysna Lagoon under a large stretch tent. Here you can catch the Battle of the Ceilidh Bands in which a variety of musicians armed with bagpipes, guitars, fiddles, kit drums and more compete for a coveted slot in the Saturday evening concert.
Be sure not to miss the Address to the Haggis – a unique Scottish tradition that you won’t soon forget!
Street Parade, Highland games & dancing
A highlight of the weekend is the Street Parade on Saturday morning which sees the Knysna Districts Pipe Band and visiting pipe bands march down Knysna Main Street. This is the only competitive street parade in the country and culminates in a spectacular and moving massed pipes and drums band which marches back up the road lined with spectators.
Immediately after the street parade, the festivities move to Loerie Park for the Highland Gathering of games like tossing the caber and the keg. The pipe bands then take centre stage for a nationally recognised pipe band competition followed by individual categories and an exhilarating massed pipes and drums display on the rugby field.
Also on the programme are the national Scottish Highland Dancing competition and Scottish Country Dancing demonstrations.
A beer garden and food stalls will keep festival goers watered and fed.
On Saturday evening the eighth Celtic concert kicks off at 5pm at Loerie Park with a line-up that includes various artists and bands who will also play some contemporary tunes to encourage crowd participation.