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36th Celtic Classic Highland Games & Festival, Sept. 22-24, in Bethlehem

The Celtic Cultural Alliance (CCA) presents the 36th Annual Celtic Classic Highland Games & Festival, Sept. 22 - 24, downtown Bethlehem.

Celtic Classic is said to be the largest free Celtic festival in North America. Five stages of world-renowned Celtic entertainers will fill downtown Bethlehem with the sounds of tin whistles, fiddles and bagpipes.

Being introduced for the first time at Celtic Classic will be Mec Lir from Isle of Man, On the Lash from Ireland, Heron Valley from Scotland and Jiggernaut from Texas. The bands range from traditional to Celtic rock and fusion.

Local favorites Craig Thatcher & Nyke Van Wyck return with their Celtic repertoire, along with Piper’s Request and Blackwater.

Tempest returns with a globally-renowned hybrid of high-energy folk rock, fusing Irish reels, Scottish ballads and Norwegian influences with world music.

The United States National Highland Games Championship will see the top pro Highland athletes in the nation compete for the title of National Champion. John Van Beuren returns to defend his title.

The Celtic Classic kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 22 with the Haggis Bowl 2023 on Highland Field to see who can eat a pound of haggis the fastest.

The Showing of the Tartan Parade, expected to be one of the largest ever, steps off from Bethlehem City Hall at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 23.

Nine competing pipe bands will participate along with the U.S. Naval Academy Pipe Band, Scottish clans, Freedom High School and Liberty High School marching bands.

The Grade 4 Pipe Band Competition is at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 23. It is expected to be one of the largest Grade 4 competitions of the season with bands from as far away as Tennessee participating. Grade 3 will compete at noon Sept. 24.

“Celtic Heritage Hollow” in the Colonial Industrial Quarter has activities for children. Fifteen Scottish clans will share historical and genealogical information.

The Heritage Stage will have lectures such as “Irish Keening” by Annie Wilson, “Welsh Miners & Engineers in 19th century Pennsylvania,” a lecture by the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, and “Highland Wear” by USA Kilts.

The O’Grady Quinlan Academy of Irish Dance will hold an interactive demonstration. Freedom High School’s Celtic Ensemble will perform.

Food, ranging from haggis, bridies, bangers and mash to poutine and crab cakes, is available.

There will be 50 Celtic merchants with apparel, jewelry and décor from seven Celtic nations.

Information: https://celticfest.org/

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO 36th Annual Celtic Classic Highland Games & Festival, Sept. 22 - 24, downtown Bethlehem.