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Celtic Roots Festival
Goderich, Ontario

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By Pat Mestern

Goderich, provides the perfect backdrop for one of the best Celtic festivals in Ontario. Considering the number of special events, highland games and other offerings inspired by Celtism, this is a daring statement to make. But indeed "Earth, Air, Fire & Water" Celtic Roots Festival can stand up to the test. Now in its sixth year, the festival is the culmination of a four-day long Celtic College, held in Goderich each year. Celtic Roots Festival attracts more than 10,000 people during their special August week end of great in-theme activities.

Harbour Park overlooking Lake Huron is an ideal location for this family oriented festival. Thirty hours of musical entertainment is presented in five areas, Earth to the north - Air at the park’s entry point - Fire in Centre Ring - Water to the west, and the Main tage, front and centre in the park. Individuals and groups from England, Scotland, Ireland, the U.S.A and other Canadian provinces provide an amazing variety of musical talent and style. Among this year’s entertainers are Francis Black, Eileen McGann, Drone Zone, The Ted Longbottom Band, Homespun, Modabo, The Reid-Taheny Band, Celtic Offspring, Artisan and the popular Glen Elg Full Moon Country Dance Band.

Visitors are kept busy enjoying a juried craft show with selected in-theme products, dance stage, good food, crafts and arts demonstrations, four workshop areas and a marvelous child’s craft and story telling area.

Organizers pride themselves on presenting a family friendly weekend of superb, high quality activity and entertainment. There are no moving vehicles allowed on the grounds. Noise is kept to a comfortable level. Those that want a drink stronger than pop or water must visit the quaint pub just outside the park’s date. A change area and nursing tent is provided at the Children’s activity area. The park is wheel chair accessible. Parking near the site is plentiful and free.

Long time visitors know enough to bring lawn chairs for a comfortable stay at all five stages. They also avail themselves of an excellent printed programme which gives locations, names and times for entertainments and other on-site activities. With so much taking place during the weekend many visitors purchase weekend passes and plan a two day safari.

Workshops and demonstrations usually feature weaving, herbs, Celtic design, harp making and playing, the art of storytelling, blacksmithing and coopering. For those interested in the "hands-on" workshops, some levy a small fee for materials. Children are welcome at many but also have their own area where they can learn to make masks, head wreaths, paper hats, puppets, jewellery. There are so many "hands-on" activities it is difficult to choose what to do next. A good plan is to receive information ahead of the festival dates and plan your strategy.

Goderich is a town of 8,000 people on the shore of beautiful Lake Huron. In 1998 it won its category for Communities in Bloom, reinforcing what area people knew all along, that the town is one of the prettiest in Canada. It is a visitor friendly area with a wide range of accommodation and restaurants. Goderich is located at the end of Highway #8, a drive of approximately one and one-half hours west of Highway #401 at Cambridge.

This year Celtic Roots Festival is being held August 6, 7 & 8. Gates open on Friday and Saturday at 1:00 p.m. with the last harp heard at 11:00 p.m. on both days. Sunday’s events include Celtic Services at area churches with Harbour Park activities again in full swing by the noon hour. "Earth, Air, Fire & Water" Celtic Roots Festival ends with a dance beginning at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday

Tickets prices are $15 per day for adults, $12 per enior and $10 for youth. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Weekend passes are available. (1999 prices are quoted)


  • For Festival information contact

  • Goderich area information can be obtained from
    • Goderich Information
      91 Hamilton Street
      Goderich, Ontario N7A 1R1

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