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Questions You Have Asked - or would like to

Each year we get asked many questions about the festival do's and don'ts, from guests, musicians, vendors and even our own volunteers and managers. This year we have added even more to this page of frequently asked questions, or more importantly, frequently given answers, to help everyone.

Who produces the festival?

This North Texas Irish Festival is produced by the Southwest Celtic Music Association, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Corporation based in Dallas, TX. Membership in the SCMA is open to anyone and full details can be found on the SCMA web site. Special note: SCMA members get discounts to all events, including NTIF, so why not become a member?

When was the festival started?

The North Texas Irish Festival started life as the First Texas Ceili held on March 5, 1983, at Nick Farrelly's Lounge on Oak Lawn (now Pappadeaux Seafood). In 1984 the SCMA was formed and moved the North Texas Irish Festival to the Cultural Arts building in Fair Park. We have expanded and move into various other buildings in the park since then.

We settled in our present location in 2001 and are now the second largest event to be held in Fair Park. (The State Fair claims to be larger, but the Irish exaggerate a lot!)

Do I need to bring my own lawn chair?

There is plenty of seating available at all stages - up to 800 at the larger stages. Around the food courts there are both tables and chairs for visitors to use. In addition there are a number of seating areas within the outside park areas.

What hours are you open?

The festival will be open during the following hours: (subject to change)

  • Friday evening from 6:00 pm till 11:00 pm
  • Saturday from  10:30 am till 11:30 pm
  • Sunday from 11:30 am till 7:30 pm

Ticket sales will end approximately one hour prior to the gates closing. Alcohol sales will end approximately 30 minutes prior to the end of the festival.

Please note. These are the times that the gates will close for the night. Food & beverage sales, vendors and most music performances close somewhat earlier.

Can I bring my dog to the festival?

Most certainly! In fact we encourage all our four legged friends to come out and enjoy the weekend festivities. We do ask, however, that you keep them on a short leash at all times, be wary of other dogs and small children, and do bring a supply of plastic bags to "clean up" after your pets. We also request a $1 donation to the SPCA for all pets. Unruley dogs will be asked to leave, and to take their owners with them. We are not responsibile for any incidents involving dogs - or their owners!

Can I wear my kilt?

Well, without it you may embarrass the ladies! Yes, you may wear your kilt, your renaissance garb, your ethnic costume or whatever else you wish. In fact we encourage you to get into the spirit of the event. We do ask, however, that you dress tastefully and not "expose" more than you need to. Gentlemen in kilts especially, watch for those strong March winds and dogs with cold noses!

Can I bring my own food?

Sorry, no. Since we charge a small fortune to our food vendors for allowing them to serve a wide variety of excellent food and wide selection of beverages throughout the festival, we do ask you not to bring your own food in. Prices are reasonable, considering the taxes and fees that we have to pay, and the variety is exceptional. Due to TABC regulations alcohol may never be brought into or taken out of the festival. We reserve the right to inspect all coolers and other carriers.

Is the NTIF handicap accessible?

Yes. There are small ramps at many locations to assist you getting up the curb, plus we have additional gates where our security staff can assist. Once inside the grounds almost everything is on one flat surface.

I can't walk far - any wheelchairs?

We don't provide wheelchairs except in case of emergency. However, electric scooters will be available for rental just inside the gate located on Washington Street, next to the big tent. There will also be additional handicap parking spaces in the Washington Street parking lot close to this entrance. Scooters are rented by ABC Scooters and can be ordered in advance from their website. www.abcscooter.net

Can I buy tickets online?

Yes. Tickets will be on sale on this web site starting in early 2018. Use our secure credit card service. All credit and debit cards will be accepted. Tickets will NOT be mailed. Please keep your email receipt - that is your ticket. ALL TICKET SALES ARE FINAL - absolutely no refunds.

Do you take credit cards?

The SCMA accepts ann credit and debit cards for admission to the festival and for purchases made at the Performer Products and SCMA booths. Many of the vendors take various credit cards, but check with them first to avoid being disappointed.

Can I get cash at the festival?

Yes. We have a number of well stocked ATMs at the festival, two inside the Automobile Building one adjacent to the Performer Products counter at the east end of Centennial Hall.

Is there close-in parking?

Parking at Fair Park is ample, and fairly close to the festival grounds. There will be a shuttle service to transport guests between the remote ends of the parking lot and the gate. Since this service is limited we do request that the young and the fit walk the short distance and leave space on the shuttle for others. There is a small fee for parking, which is regulated by Fair Park and the concession owners. The NTIF has no control over and receives no income from this fee. There are handicap spaces - ask the parking staff for directions.

What if it rains?

The festival is now 90% under cover, and in heated buildings, so the show will go on. If the weather is very uncooperative, certain activities or vendors may be relocated inside the buildings.

What about snow & ice?

We have worked hard over the past three years to totally weatherproof NTIF. We realize that March in Texas can deliver some pretty chilling weather, but we live with it. It is highly unlikely that we will cancel the event. If things look really bad we will work with our media partners to get the word out on radio and TV.

Can I take photographs?

Photographs may be taken for personal use only. You may certainly take all the photos you want of the family drinking a Guinness and eating an Irish Stew on the lawns. You may also take photos of the vendors and other activities as long as you obtain permission. You may take a limited number of photos of the musicians as long as you remain away from the stage and do not use flash. If they ask you to stop, please do so. Access to the backstage areas is strictly prohibited.

The making of any kind of audio recording of any of the entertainers is strictly prohibited, and is a violation of the performing rights owned by the musicians and the SCMA.

How do you pronounce Celtic?

When referring to the seven nations, their culture or their music, the word Celtic is pronounced with a hard "C", like Keltic. Only the sports teams, including Glasgow's famous Celtic soccer team, are pronounced with the soft "C", like Seltic.

What are the Celtic Nations?

The seven Celtic nations are at the extreme reaches of the original Roman Empire. They are the regions of Europe that were left unconquered by the Romans during the first Century, due mainly to the fierce resistance put up by the Celts and the relatively inhospitable lands that they occupied. The seven nations are Ireland; Scotland; Wales; the Isle of Man (a small island between England and Ireland); Cornwall (a county in the extreme west of England); Brittany (Peninsula in Northwest  France) and Galicia (a region of northern Spain).

Do the Irish have Clans?

Yes. The word clan is derived from 'clann' meaning 'family' in the Irish and Scottish Gaelic language. The word was taken into English about 1425 as a label for the tribal nature of Irish and Scottish Gaelic society. Indeed, clans be found in many other parts of the world, including India, eastern Europe and the Arab world.

One notable example of Irish clans are the Tribes of Galway; fourteen merchant families who dominated the political, commercial, and social life of the city of Galway in western Ireland between the mid-13th and late-19th centuries. So, if you are an Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, D'Arcy, Deane, Font, French, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martyn, Morris or Skerrett then you should certainly check out your ancestry.

What are the dates of next years festival?

Always the first weekend in March. But, I hear you ask, for 2020 the first Sunday is March 1st, so does that define the weekend?. Well, no! The precise definition is "The weekend that contains the first Saturday in March. The reason for that is that the first few Irish Festivals were held only on a Saturday, and were always the first Saturday in March. When we expanded to Sunday, and more recently to Friday, we retained the Saturday logic (if you can call it logic!)

That means that the we will be back on the following weekends:

  • 37th - March 8-10, 2019 - NOTE: this is one week later than normal
  • 38th - March 6-8, 2020
  • 39th - March 5-7, 2021
  • 40th - March 4-6, 2022
  • 41st - March 3-5, 2023
  • 42nd - March 1-3, 2024

What other festivals might I enjoy?

The North Texas Irish Festival is a member of the International Association of Irish Festival Producers. Members include Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Dublin (Ohio), Kansas City, Long Island, and Cleveland amongst others. All of these festivals are worth attending and enjoying a short weekend getaway.

Closer at hand we are good friends of the Texas Scottish Festival & Highland Games, the Austin Celtic Festival the Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival and CeltFest Mississippi.

NTIF Crowd
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