The 21st annual KVMR Celtic Festival and Marketplace mixes Celtic music and magic September 29 through October 1 in Grass Valley, California at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, a bucolic setting on 100 acres among giant ponderosa pines . There are eight stages and performance areas. Our main stage hosts many of the best Celtic musicians on the world stage.
The Nevada County Fairgrounds is transformed into a Celtic Village and headline concert venue. Mainstage musical headliners for this year include seven-piece Scottish band Skerryvore, from Wales – Calan, Eamon McElholm & Johnny B. Connolly, Nova Scotian sister duo Cassie & Maggie MacDonald, Celtic power trio Story Road, veterans John Whelan & Low Lily, Irish sister quartet Screaming Orphans, and many more.
Shopping and dining opportunities abound with over 50 vendors and a complete Irish Pub. Hundreds of regional performers, singers, bagpipers, actors, jugglers and storytellers roam the fairgrounds.
Friday night includes pageantry and jousting with the Royal Tournament and Gathering of the Clans, Free Friday Youth Arts Program, and the Friday night Ceilidh – a Celtic party with music, dancing and revelry under the stars.
Musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments and join in with jam sessions and workshops scheduled throughout the weekend. History buffs can explore several encampments of “Guilds” who re-create points and places in time. Exciting and educational, the Celtic Animals exhibit houses falcons, eagles, hawks, owls, sheep and ponies.
Revelers make music into the night in the campgrounds complete with tall trees and a lake. Camping and RV hookups are available on-site.
Amateur and professional athletes test their strength and skill in Scottish Games. Children are kept engaged with arts and crafts, story telling, and romping on the straw bales.
We hope you and your family will join us for this year’s KVMR Celtic Festival.
FREE YOUTH ARTS PROGRAM – Friday, September 29 from 3:45 to 7:00PM
The Celtic Festival’s Friday Youth Arts Program has grown to be a wonderful afternoon of music, magic, dance and arts instruction for aspiring artists. Participants, ages 10-18, learn from world-class artists and festival headliners. Youth participants in the program can take 1-3 consecutive workshops of their choice.
The FREE program includes workshops and a discounted youth day pass for attendees.
ROYAL TOURNAMENT & GATHERING OF THE CLANS
This year the three-day KVMR Celtic Festival will kick off the weekend with their first Royal Tournament & Gathering of the Clans. Chivalry and honor will reign on Friday, September 29 with a medieval tournament featuring full contact jousting, dancing horses, sword fights and hand to hand combat presented by the Imperial Knights. Honors to the winners will be presented by the King, Queen and their royal attendants.
The festivities will take place in the Nevada County Fairgrounds arena and will include pageantry and a parade with medieval clans and guilds in attendance vying for favors.
The Imperial Knights travel internationally and feature the expert horsemanship of Thomas and Andrea Montgomery. Exhibitions include hand to hand combat and the thrill and excitement of full contact jousting. The company uses authentic medieval weapons and armor along with colorful heraldry and costumes.
Heavy armor jousting was prominent in the 15th and 16th century. The purpose of the competition is for each competitor to try to dislodge the opponent from his/her horse. Armed with 13-foot-long lances, they gallop down the lists toward each other and score points by unseating their opponent or striking the shield.
The Imperial Knights will present jousting exhibitions on Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 pm in the Fairgrounds Arena.
FRIDAY NIGHT CEILIDH – Friday, September 29 from 7:30PM
This year the KVMR Celtic Festival will get a running start on Friday night with our Friday Night Ceilidh – an evening of Celtic music and dance.
There’ll be line, circle, and couple dancing for all ages and abilities. No need to come with a partner – it’s a great way to socialize and meet friends.
The Friday Night Ceilidh will be held at the Ponderosa Hall at the Nevada County Fairgrounds with indoor space for dancing, an outdoor deck with food and a full service pub, and beautiful garden space for relaxing and enjoying the evening.
KVMR Celtic Festival – Musical Headliners:
Back on the remote Scottish island of Tiree, in 2005, the raw, but contemporary traditional quartet that formed Skerryvore, could have only dreamed that, over the next decade, they would become a multi-award winning act, which was performing in over 25 countries worldwide, and featured as ambassadors for their country, in an international advertising campaign for ‘Visit Scotland’.
“The sound of Young Scots Power Folk.” – BBC Radio
“Five albums into their recording career, the band have progressed from a standard issue Ceilidh band to a world class Celtic Rock band, with more influences than you could shake a stick at.” – Northern Sky Magazine
Eamon McElholm & Johnny B. Connolly
“Eamon McElholm is very much a distinguished artist…in addition to having a host of excellent singles as a solo artist over the years has performed with many highly regarded musicians and bands. The talented artist, who excels on a wide range of instruments, has continued to impress in the field.” – Tyrone Life
“Johnny Connolly’s ‘Bridgetown’ is the most exciting solo debut album from an Irish artist in years…a must-have CD for all true lovers of Irish box playing.” – The Irish Herald
Solas members Eamon McElholm and Johnny B. Connolly set out as a duo. Playing side-by-side for the past three years with extensive world-wide touring, the two friends have forged a rare musical connection whether firing on reels and jigs or blending in breathtaking accompaniment to Eamon’s brilliant singing.
The Screaming Orphans
The Screaming Orphans, an all-sister band from Bundoran, Co. Donegal, Ireland, are one of the most sought after Celtic bands with a powerful, award-winning sound combining their own original melodic old-school pop songs with their unique and modern take on traditional Irish music and song, inherited from their family roots. From an early age, the Diver sisters performed with their mother Kathleen Fitzgerald (a well-known céilí singer in Ireland) and when they hit their teenage years, they formed their own Celtic pop/rock band, the Screaming Orphans, which led
to a signing by Warner Music UK.
“No one else can quite create their pop, rock and Gaelic-influenced songs.” – That Mag
“Calan have it all. Energy, attitude, freshness, a sense of fun and above all, real talent.” – BBC Radio Wales
Calan bring together the remarkable talents of 5 young musicians giving a fresh and vibrant sound to traditional Welsh music. With a contemporary and lively approach they breathe new life into the old traditions through their sparkling melodies, foot tapping tunes and spirited and energetic performances of Welsh step dancing.
John Whelan & Low Lily: Crossing the Atlantic
Legendary Irish accordion champion John Whelan teams up with the acoustic roots and branches band Low Lily for a Transatlantic roots collaboration. Exploring the musical traditions of Ireland and America, this diverse and energetic show showcases the talents of these seasoned performers. Alongside fiery uptempo Irish jigs and reels will be traditional Irish and American folk songs, original songs and instrumentals on button accordion, fiddle, guitars, mandolin and lush, layered vocals. This show brings generations together for a fresh take on roots music from both sides of the pond.
Story Road is collaboration between 4 of America’s premier Irish traditional musicians, John Weed, Stuart Mason, Colleen Raney, and Ryan Davidson. Known for their dynamic live shows, the band’s repertoire of tunes and songs is culled from the rich traditions of Ireland, Scotland, and the American South.
The Fire is a high energy pure-drop Scottish music band, with world class fiddling in combination with bagpipes, guitar, bodhran, whistle, and bouzouki. The group includes, International Scottish Fiddle Champion Rebecca Lomnicky, multi-instrumentalist David Brewer of the popular Celtic band Molly’s Revenge, and Adam Hendey on guitar and bouzouki. Members of the trio have each spent copious amounts of time delving into the traditions of their respective instruments, with Rebecca and David having additionally lived and studied in both Edinburgh and the highlands of Scotland.
Cassie and Maggie MacDonald
Cassie and Maggie MacDonald encompass everything you could ask for in a musical act, their talent is only surpassed by the joy with which they so generously share it. Exciting and innovative, they have found the perfect balance between musical integrity, and sheer entertainment. While still staying true to their Celtic roots, they have explored and tested the boundaries of traditional music, bringing a breath of fresh air to the genre with their original compositions and arrangements. Sisters, cohorts and collaborators, Cassie and Maggie have been enchanting audiences far and wide with their infectious energy, driving rhythms and lilting melodies.
Two Worlds One: Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter
Two Worlds One is a multi-instrumentalist duo with Celtic harps, Swedish nyckelharpa, Ukrainian bandura, citterns, Irish bouzouki, viola, and more. Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter’s performances have been enchanting audiences throughout the country with unique music, traditional and original, entwined with humorous stories of their lives as professional musicians whose career spans several decades. The result has been described as breathtaking and always results in standing ovations and invitations to return.
After 15 years of performing together and recording on each other’s solo albums, Portland, Maine-based flute player Nicole Rabata and Boston-based fiddler Ellery Klein decided a group together was long overdue. With the addition of Bethany Waickman on guitar, the trio found a sound rooted in the traditional Irish music Ellery and Nicole honed during years abroad in the Irish cities of Cork, Limerick, and Ennis. The trio is also influenced by the depths of Nicole’s virtuosic classical music career, Ellery’s Americana sounds, and Bethany’s soft-spoken, yet driving, guitar playing.
Content and photos provided by Peter Wilson