Belfast Telegraph

Having a reel-y good time at Pan Celtic Festival

By Garrett Hargan

Following on the success of the City of Culture year and staging the first All Ireland Fleadh to come north of the border, visitors to Derry are now being "blown away" at the Pan Celtic Festival.

The festival celebrates the music, language and culture of the six Celtic nations of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man.

It is the first time it has been held in Northern Ireland in its 43-year history, with thousands joining in the fun.

According to organisers, audiences at the festival are being "blown away" by the performances so far.

The festival got under way with opening shows at the Guildhall and the mirrored Spiegeltent venue as each of the nations represented at the festival delivered a taste of what's in store for the rest of the week.

Development and arts manager at Culturlann, Odhrán Mullan, said: "The first night of the festival was a great success.

"There were great crowds in both Guildhall and the Spiegeltent.

"People are blown away by the level of musical performance by each of the nations.

"In the Spiegeltent, people are saying the unique surroundings add much to the atmosphere."

Over the course of six days, the venue situated in Guildhall Square will see performances from Declan O'Rourke, Alana Henderson, Breton folk group Barzaz and the Máirtín O'Connor Band.

Derry mayor Martin Reilly said: "Thousands of visitors are expected in the city from Republic of Ireland and the UK over the course of this week and for the duration of the Pan Celtic Festival which has already seen a packed two days of events.

"It has been successful already in terms of attracting tourists from the visiting nations, evident in the extremely high occupancy rates the city is experiencing both during the week and this weekend."

On Saturday night alone the city's accommodation providers are already at 85% full.

Visitors have brought with them a vibrant spectacle of costume, music, language and their unique cultural traditions.

The celebration of Celtic culture through music, language and sport is set to continue until the weekend.

"With the key highlight events still to come including the Parade of Nations tomorrow, along with a host of concerts, the event will continue to attract domestic visitors for the range of family-friendly activities, language classes and workshops as well as the live Spiegal Sessions in the tent each evening," Mr Reilly added.

One highlight will be the Parade of Nations, along Shipquay Street and across Guildhall Square, led by a collection of pipers marching as the Pan Celtic Pipe Band tomorrow from 6pm.

For those interested in the learning about the links and nuances between the Celtic languages, free taster courses for young people will be running throughout the week.

The whole family can also catch the unique show of mummers and Glastonbury performers the Armagh Rhymers.

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