Winchester is a destination rich in history, and the ideal location for visitors to experience Northern Virginia and the natural beauty of the Shenandoah Valley. Shenandoah University was established here during the early 20th Century, and the city soon became the region's hub for the arts. Today, the city remains at the forefront of art and culture, while offering a spectrum of activities for all ages.
St. Paddy’s Celtic Fest is entering its second year of bringing Scottish and Irish entertainment to Northern Virginia. It’s free to attend and will take place on Saturday, March 11th, at the Loudoun Street Walking Mall in Old Town. The event will have a variety of entertainers including Scottish bagpipers, Celtic bands, and Irish step dancers. Activities will be spread throughout the mall, giving patrons the opportunity to visit shops and restaurants. There will be Celtic Games for Children, held on the courthouse lawn and featuring activities and learning opportunities in a competition-free environment. The fest supports Habitat for Humanity, which is a nonprofit housing organization aiming to help everyone find a decent place to live. We got the chance to interview Dario Savarese, a representative for the St. Paddy’s Celtic Fest, to learn more about this Irish extravaganza.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
DS: The upcoming St. Paddy's Celtic Fest will be our second annual celebration.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
DS: The event draws between 1,500-3,000 attendees, with approximately 15 vendors and four venues participating.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract?
DS: The primary demographic is men and women between the ages of 21 and 45. However, you will see many families in attendance as well.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
DS: This event is unique because it brings the entirety of the Loudoun Street Walking Mall to life. The major venues on the mall host live music and entertainment at no cost. Additionally, Celtic-themed games, street performers, and vendors will set up on the Walking Mall to celebrate Irish and Scottish culture.
RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.
DS: Major activities include visiting the venues along the Loudoun Street Walking Mall. These venues are Brightbox Theater, 50/50 Taphouse, Brewbakers, and Union Jacks. All four will host a different high energy group covering popular songs by Irish bands including the Dropkick Murphys, as well as traditional Irish Music. In between sets, the Armstrong Irish Dance Studio Dancers will perform traditional Irish Step Dances.
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
DS: There is a multitude of dining options on the Walking Mall, including over 35 restaurants, parlors, and coffee shops.
RAL: What is the overall environment like?
DS: The walking mall has a very quaint, small town charm to it. Many boutiques live on the mall, and all businesses are locally owned. If you are looking for a unique gift or even something for yourself, you'll find no better place than this area.
RAL: What will travelers find for local lodging options?
DS: There are a few places to stay, including The George Washington Hotel, which is a major hotel with an upscale feel. The Nancy Shepherd House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Old Town Winchester, now a fully licensed historic hotel, is one of several early federal period inns that once lined the streets of downtown Winchester. At Old Waterstreet Inn, you can unwind in an atmosphere that is easy going yet sophisticated. The Federal-style brick home, which is designated a Winchester Historical Building.
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
DS: This event is a major contributor to the economy of Old Town Winchester.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
DS: With so much foot traffic on event days, restaurants and shops see a huge increase in business. The goal is to get people to the mall so that they will interact with the businesses.
RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?
DS: This event benefits Habitat for Humanity.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
DS: One of my favorite parts about Old Town Winchester events is the combination of small town charm and big city festivities. We strive to put on the best events with the intent that we are providing entertaining and relevant performers at low or no cost to our patrons. Our events are those that you can find by visiting Alexandria, Charlottesville, Leesburg, and even DC, without the crowds, without the cost, and with the added benefit of supporting locally owned shops and businesses.
For more information about St. Paddy’s Celtic Fest, please visit the event website.