Assemble your clans and dust off your tartan – The Gathering is back in 2021 for a rollicking celebration of Celtic music, culture, food and performance on Sunday May 23 at the Ipswich Turf Club.
Queensland’s largest Celtic festival, The Gathering honours Celtic heritage and traditions spanning from Scotland and Ireland to Wales, Cornwall and the Isle of Man in England and across to Brittany in France and the ancient regions of Gallaecia and Astures in Spain. Highlights of the festival program include musical and dance performances from traditional to folk-rock, Celtic flavours sourced from Scotland to Spain, historic reenactments, clan activities and all the pomp and pageantry of the Highland Games.
In the spirit of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, festival-goers can witness the colour and ceremony of the Queensland Pipe Band Spectacular, featuring 250 pipe band competitors from around Australia, while the Main Stage will be headlined by Celtic folk-rock bands The Barleyshakes, The Jar, Limerick and The Ceilidh Clan with Ishka in the Ceilidh Centre. For the rhythmically inclined, watch Morris folk dancers, learn the Highland Fling, or get hands-on with Celtic drumming and bagpipes workshops with the Greater Ipswich College of Piping and Drumming. Attendees can even sing a Celtic song on the Buskers’ Stage.
If you’re game, sample the offal-loaded national dish of Scotland, haggis, dig into a delicious bowl of Spanish paella and enjoy a hearty Irish stew at the variety of Celtic food stalls available on site. Other Celtic-flavoured activities include patting a “hairy coo” aka a fluffy Highland cow or an Irish wolfhound, learning how to weave tartan and tossing a caber with the pros at the Highland Games!
And to get into the spirit the Heritage City will come alive with with bagpipers, Celtic ghost stories and bands popping up ahead of the festival.
Learn about Ipswich’s Heritage and see a Pipe Band at Cooneana
Find out about the Ipswich’s early settlers at the Cooneana Heritage Centre. The centre will be open from 10am-2pm on Saturday May 22 and the City of Ipswich Pipe Band will be performing from 12.30pm. Entry to Cooneana is $5, with kids under 12 free.
See blacksmithing demonstrations
Martin Geddes will be operating the hot forge at Cooneana on Saturday May 22, giving people an insight into how knives and hand tools were made in ye olde times. He also offers blacksmithing classes, head down to find out more.
Celtic ghost stories
Learn about some of Ipswich’s haunted history with a Ghost Tours Australia Ipswich cemetery tour. The tours on Saturday May 22 will be themed with Celtic stories and run at 5pm and 7.30pm.
Celtic Folk Music at the Pumpyard Bar
Tap your toes, and feel the Celtic rhythm while you enjoy some local beverages at the Pumpyard Bar and Brewery, while listening to Celtic Folk music by local duo Rob and Jo Davies on Saturday May 22 from 7pm to 9pm.
Heritage bus tour to the United Welsh Church
Take a Heritage Bus Tour to to Blackstone area with a stop for morning tea at the United Welsh Church. The tour departs the Cooneana Heritage Centre at 10am on Saturday May 22 and returns in time to see the City of Ipswich Pipe Band performance at 12.30pm.
Donald Behan will be your guide to the history of Blackstone, bus tickets are $10 on the day for adults $5 for kids.