Irish frivolity painted Columbia green a couple of weeks ago. Now it’s time to see how the Celtics throw a party.
The sixth annual Tartan Day South, a four-day celebration of Celtic heritage, begins Thursday, March 31. The motto: “Celtic or not, much fun for everyone!”
The festival is an explosion of music, foods, exhibitions and sports designed to allow those attending an opportunity to experience Celtic culture. Celts are Indo-Europeans including the Irish, Gaels, Welsh and Bretons.
“We have a renaissance feel to it that inspires many people to dress up in period costumes or to don a kilt or their family tartan,” said John Banks, the festival’s organizer. “This adds to the fun for everyone.”
Last year, 10,600 attended the festival, well beyond the 3,400 that attended the first Tartan Day South in 2011.
“The festival keeps growing through a great word-of-mouth following,” Banks said. “It is great to hear other people telling the Tartan Day story through their own experience. We also try to add something new every year so patrons are not walking into the same event each year.”
Here are five things you want to make sure to see at Tartan Day South:
1. Celtic music. There will be four bands performing Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2, playing Celtic music – everything from rock to folk to traditional jig music. “There is nothing like hearing bagpipes mixed with electric guitars,” Banks said. “I can only warn you that dancing and singing along become extremely contagious.”
2. The caber toss. “Until you have seen the caber toss in person, you cannot get a grasp on the sheer power of these athletes,” Banks said. The goal: Flip a 19-foot-long wooden pole that weighs more than 190 pounds. The sport is more than 1,000 years old.
3. Sheep-herding dogs and birds of prey exhibitions. “These are fantastic,” Banks said. “Each has a show three times a day and has huge crowds of folks mesmerized from ages 2 to 92. These are truly amazing animals.”
4. Genealogy presentation. Bruce Durie from Scotland is a genealogist, writer, broadcaster and lecturer from Scotland.
5. The classic British car show. The British Car Club Midlands Centre will bring in more than 100 amazing classics, including Rolls Royces, Bentleys, and Jaguars from five states. “These cars are not only beautiful but their stories are fascinating,” Banks said. “They will be all over the area with a tour around Lake Murray on Friday afternoon called ‘Ramble of the Tartans.’ ”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Tartan Day South
WHEN/WHERE: Most of the festival – beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, April 1 and 9 a.m. Saturday, April 2 – is at the Historic Columbia Speedway, 2001 Charleston Highway, Cayce. At the West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheater: Celtic Movie Night at dusk Thursday, March 31, and Kirkin’ of the Tartans By the River at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 3.
HIGHLIGHTS: “The Power of Plaid” fashion show highlights how tartans have bled into everyday life, plus dancing, pipe bands, kids’ rides and ax tossing.