There’s a story teller in 2019. Brendan Nolan and his friend Colin Farrell are coming to play music. And the Drake Irish Dancers are new to the Florida Keys Celtic Festival, too, for the event that takes place Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 12-13 at Marathon Community Park.
“I always say this is going to be the best year ever,” said Rev. Debra Andrew Maconaughey of St. Columba Episcopal Church in Marathon. The church is the host of the annual festival, now in its sixth year, and the proceeds fund its good works. “We’re just excited that we have all the bands coming down, some new dancers, and new additions to our village that we are unveiling.”
Theo Derleth, who helps publicize the festival, is no less proud.
“This festival is turning out to be one of the premier festivals of the Florida Keys and one of the most family-friendly — there’s something for all ages,” he said.
Albannach, the Screaming Orphans, West of Galway and the aforementioned Nolan and Farrell play multiple times a day on both Saturday and Sunday. It’s top-notch music entertainment by any measure, but the gold standard of Celtic music. There’s also the highland games — incredibly muscled men and women performing feats of strength and skill such as the caber toss, which is actually throwing around a … wait for it … telephone pole. The whole crowd stops to watch and listen when the Police Pipe & Drum Corps of Florida march the festival grounds. And, then, there’s those sheep herding dogs, though, truth be told, Keys natives are usually more fascinated by those strange sheep.
“Festival goers love the tea tent, too,” said Derleth. “It’s one of people’s favorites, and the pub food is amazing too.”
Proceeds from the festival support St. Columba’s Hammock House. It offers free after-school transportation, homework help and snacks during the school year. On school holidays, it offers camps. Maconaughey said the Hammock House has recently added some enrichment programs.
“We have ukulele lessons, gymnastics and art classes and we’ve just started a Yale University curriculum called Mutt-i-grees that teaches the kids social skills,” she said.
Maconaughey heaps praise on the festival volunteers’ heads. “Last year it was sad; so many of our regular volunteers couldn’t come because homes were still damaged. So in 2019, it’s like a reunion. We’re so happy to see them again.”
Admission is $10 per day. The festival runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday, Jan. 11
Kickoff party with West of Galway duo @ 5 p.m. @ Marathon Grill
Saturday, Jan. 12 @ Marathon Community Park
11 a.m. — Festival gates open
11 a.m. — Brendan Nolan with Colin Farrell
11:45 a.m. — Drake Irish Dance
12:15 p.m. — Opening ceremonies and parade, Police Pipe & Drum Corps of Florida
12:30 p.m. — Albannach
1:30 p.m. — Screaming Orphans
2:30 p.m. — West of Galway
3:30 p.m. — Brendan Nolan with Colin Farrell
3 p.m. — Tai Chi demonstration on the field
4:30 p.m. — Drake Irish Dance
5:15 p.m. — Albannach
6 p.m. — Athletic awards presentation ceremony
6:15 p.m. — Screaming Orphans
7 p.m. — Candlelight Compline
Sunday, Jan. 13 @ Marathon Community Park
9:30 a.m. — Celtic Contemporary Worship, led by St. Columba Episcopal
11 a.m. — Festival gates open
11:15 a.m. — Police Pipe & Drum Corps of Florida
11:30 a.m. — Brendan Nolan and Colin Farrell
12:30 p.m. — Drake Irish Dancers
1:15 p.m. — West of Galway
2:30 p.m. — Albannach
3:30 p.m. — Screaming Orphans
4 p.m. — Raffle drawing for tiny house
5 p.m. — Gates close
Ongoing throughout festival:
• Performances by Police Pipe & Drum Corps of Florida
• Highland Athletic Competition
• Sheep Dog Herding Demonstration by Craigmalloch Farms
• Storytelling with John Miles
For more information, visit www.floridakeyscelticfestival.com.