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Penn’s Landing Irish Festival

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Sights and Sounds of the 2019 Philadelphia Irish Festival

The 2019 Philadelphia Irish Festival at Penn’s Landing is history. A very good festival it was. With temperatures in the 80s and a nice breeze along the Delaware, it was picture-perfect most of the day.

Seamus McGroary, C.J. Mills and Joe Kirschen started playing just after noon, and the tunes flowed on into the afternoon, with the McLean Avenue Band of New York City and Philly band Jamison taking the stage later in the day, undaunted by occasionally threatening skies.

A good-sized crowd showed up to take in the tunes, buy Irish shirts and hats, slurp water ice, sip a brew, feast on funnel cake, or watch the Irish dancers. For the kids, there were balloon hats, face painting and a moon bounce. Continue Reading

Dance, Food & Drink, Music, News

A Little Bit of Ireland on the Waterfront

People have been celebrating their Irish heritage by taking in The Philadelphia Irish Festival at Penns Landing for more than 20 years. That translates to thousands of Irish or those who just want to be Irish for the day. You can add to those impressive stats. The festival is coming up again on June 2. Best of all—it’s free.

Part of the PECO Multicultural Series, the festival offers a day of great Irish tunes, dance, food and drink, vendors, and plenty of activities for the kiddies.

“It’s a family-friendly event,” says organizer Michael Bradley. “It attracts everybody from newborns to people in their 90s. Everybody’s welcome. It’s a nice way to get your family out and to keep the Irish tradition alive, at a beautiful location along the river. It’s just a really neat place to be.”

Free admission means people who might be struggling financially can come out and enjoy the music, the vendors and all the rest. “It’s not a price-conscious thing,” Bradley says. “You don’t see free admission too much anymore.” Continue Reading

Music, News

Penn’s Landing Irish Festival 2014

Butterfly girl

Butterfly girl

You didn’t have to be Irish to enjoy the Penn’s Landing Irish Festival.

As usual, the festival down by the river drew a diverse crowd, lots of people who were all too happy to be Irish for a day.

And they picked a good day, sunny skies against the scenic backdrop of the Delaware, with pleasure boats bouncing on the rippling water. And also providing visible proof that not all men are hearty sailors, and should definitely wear shirts.

Many of the city’s top Irish bands filled the Great Plaza with music all day.

And, hey, if you wanted to dance, who was going to stop you?

Vendors sold everything from T-shirts to wedding rings, and if you wanted a cheesesteak, a pretzel, an ice cream, or a brew, it wasn’t too hard to find them.

The day started, as it always does, with an outdoor Mass on the grounds of the Irish Memorial at Front and Chestnut.

We captured the day’s festivities with a pretty hefty photo essay.


The Irish Take Over Penn’s Landing

Luke Jardel of the Hooligans.

Luke Jardel of the Hooligans.

Picking up where they left off on March 17, Philly’s Irish celebrated their Irish-ness all day Sunday along the Delaware.

The day began, fittingly, with a celebration of faith—an open-air Mass on the grounds of the Irish Memorial down at Front and Chestnut.

Then the day got decidedly less secular, as hundreds of Irish, both of the genuine and wannabe variety, filled every square inch of Penn’s Landing’s Great Plaza. They came for the food and drink, for the vendors selling hats and t-shirts, and for a day chock full of great local Irish music pumped out from the festival stage by The Hooligans, Blackthorn, and Jamison Celtic Rock.

There was a big birthday bash, too, for former bar owner Emmett Ruane, who celebrated his 75th birthday at the festival. The Hooligans’s Luke Jardel led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday,” and you could tell by the grin on his face that Emmett was happy indeed.

It was muggy—lots of kids wading in the “no wading” fountains—and it rained for a little bit, but nothing was going to slow this party down.

We captured many of the best moments of the day.

Check out the slide show above.

Dance, Music, News

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Not all the dancers belong to a dance school.

Not all the dancers belong to a dance school.

Memorial Day is seen as the official start of summer. But for those of us following a slightly different calendar, summer doesn’t truly begin until the annual Penn’s Landing Irish Festival.

This year’s festival kicks off Sunday at 12 noon, going all the way to 8 p.m., at the Great Plaza at Penn’s landing, Columbus Boulevard at Market Street.

If you’ve never been, here’s why you should go…

Music (and lots of it, all day long), with Blackthorn, Jamison and the Hooligans headlining on the main stage.

Dance, with so many of the Philadelphia area’s schools of Irish dance prancing all over the place that we can’t list them all.

Food and drink, including traditional Irish noshies like shepherd’s pie, along with water ice, ice cream, and appropriately seasonal liquid refreshment.

Vendors galore, so you can pick up all of the T-shirts, hats, mugs, home decor, jewelry and other goods necessary to confirm in the eyes of all the world that you are, yes indeed, Irish.

Kiddie stuff, including face-painting, of course.

Atmosphere. Yes, Penn’s Landing lacks shade and technically, kids aren’t supposed to wade in the fountains (but they do anyway), and it can get a little hot out there along the river. But, hey, you’re along the river, which you can bet will be dotted with pleasure boats, some of which stop dead in the water to take in the music emanating from the main stage.

OK, so we’ve told you. But if you still need convincing, let us show you. Check out our photos from past years.

How to Be Irish in Philly

How To Be Irish in Philly This Week

Blackthorn's Michael Boyce at a prior Penns Landing fest.

This is one jam-packed weekend if you like rugby, Irish music, dancing, and fun. Surely, one of those things will entice you out either to the 2011 USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championships in Chester on Saturday and Sunday, the Irish festival in Mont Clare throughout the entire weekend,  or the Irish Festival on Penns Landing on Sunday.

Notre Dame is one of the teams competing over the weekend at the Philadelphia Union’s waterfront soccer stadium during the sevens—so-called because the team is made up of only 7, rather than 15 players, which amplifies the action. The matches will be televised by NBC, but only if you go out can you also enjoy the Saturday night concert by the Dropkick Murphys.

Speaking of Notre Dame, the AOH Notre Dame Division 1 annual Irish festival is this weekend too. The fun starts Friday night at St. Michael’s Picnic Grounds under the pavilion in Mont Clare, PA. Enjoy the music of Jamison, the Belfast Connection, Misty Isle,  the Bogside Rogues, and a ceili with Tom McHugh, Kevin and Jim McGillian.  There’ll be food, vendors, pipers, Irish dancers, $2 pints all weekend long and tickets are only $15 for the entire weekend. Doesn’t get any better than that. Oh, wait, yes it does. All proceeds from this annual festival go to support AOH charities.

It’s year 13 for the Penns Landing Irish Festival which draws thousands to the Delaware River for free music and entertainment along with plenty of vendors selling beer, food, and Irish stuff. This year, Blackthorn, the Hooligans, and Jamison will appear on the main stage. There will be nonstop Irish dancing and kids activities.

The events simmer down during the week (though there’s a session every night somewhere) until Friday, when the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion and the Rosenbach Museum present the world premier of “Stoker’s Dracula,” adapted and performed by Philadelphia actor Josh Hitchens. The story by the Irish writer will be told by candlelight in a dark room. Sounds like spooky fun!

Also on Friday night, catch Philly-based, Dublin-born singer-songwriter John Byrne with jazz vocalist Lili Anel at Milkboy Café on Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore. Byrne has received accolades for his debut album, “After the Wake,” and Anel, who grew up in New York but now makes Philly her home, was recently honored as best female singer/songwriter and best female jazz vocalist in the prestigious New York Music Awards.

As always, there’s more information on our calendar, the cutest, most cuddly calendar in the entire Delaware Valley.


Hot, Steamy, Windy—But the Crowds Got All Irish at Penns Landing

Penn's Landing

We caught this little miss clambering on the Irish Memorial during the Mass that preceded the Irish Festival. Cute, but don't do it again! (Her parents spotted her and put a stop to it.)

When it comes to the annual Penns Landing Irish Festival, the crowds never let a little heat, wind, or even rain stop them. They load up on “Irish Ice”—what water ice is called this one day a year—and enjoy the day.

On Sunday, June 6, the crowds came. . . to hear Paddy’s Well, the Hooligans, Round Tower, and Blackthorn; see 11 Irish dance schools strut their stuff; and play “duck hunt” in one of the many fountains that dot the multilayer amphitheatre where the event is held each year.

As in previous years, the festival opened after a Mass, celebrated by Father Ed Brady of St. Isidore’s Parish in Quakertown, at the nearby Irish Memorial. This year’s Mass paid tribute to the recent Inspirational Irish Women awardees. Members of the committee that planned the May 23 event participated: Keira McDonagh and Emily Weideman were readers, Jocelyn McGillian, a mezzo-soprano, sang to the accompaniment of harper Ellen Tepper. Honoree Liz Kerr of LAOH 25 and her husband Pearse brought the gifts. Honoree Kathy McGee Burns, vice president of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association, participated in the raising of the flags over the Memorial park.

We were there and have photos from both events.

  • View the Mass at the Memorial.
  • View the Penns Landing Irish Festival.
  • View more of the Penns Landing Irish Festival
  • Dance

    Day of the Dancers

    Coyle dancers

    Little Coyle dancers get a bit of coaching.

    If you love Irish dance, most of the major Delaware Valley-area dance schools take to their tappy little toes at the annual Penn’s Landing Irish Festival. The 2010 festival was no exception.

    Irish dance schools such as McDade, Timoney, Rince Ri, Cara, Coyle,
    McHugh, Cummins, Celtic Flame, Gibson, Campbell, 2nd Street, Emerald
    Isle, and Christina Ryan-Kilcoyne performed in the music tent and at the
    main stage.

    Some of the schools chose to wear the full regalia, flouncy wigs and all; others chose to dress for the weather … which was, of course, really hot.

    Festival-goers just plain loved it all, either way.

    Here are a few quick peeks at their performances.

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