Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, the most important event in the Irish traditional music calendar, may have officially kicked off last Sunday but with the weekend finally here, it’s today that the craic will really start as thousands descend on Ennis, Co. Clare, for a week of music, dance, and song.
Loaded with the most talented of Irish traditional musicians from all around the world, Ennis is already proving to be a spectacular location for the 65th Fleadh, having previously hosted the competitions in 1956 and 1977.
With over 400,000 visitors expected over nine days, 6,000 musicians, singers and dancers of all ages will compete across 180 competitions for the honor of becoming All-Ireland Champion, while the rest of us less talented folk simply bask in the talent of our traditional musicians.
The competitions will reach their peak on Sunday night with the senior céilí bands coming together to take each other on for one of the most hotly contested titles, treating all those watching in Clare or online with more than one barnstorming set of music to get our feet tapping.
The week kicked of with Scoil Éigse, the annual set of workshops and classes for musicians from all over the world who hope to brush up on their skills to come back and compete at the All-Ireland stage in the future. A dream for young kids who live for their music, a week of learning and playing together allows them to show off their skills to the early-birds who travel down for the "quieter" days of the Fleadh.
Opened by Irish President Michael D. Higgins, the 2016 Fleadh returns to one of the great homes of Irish traditional music and Ennis has embraced it with gusto.
With a total of 28 concerts taking place across the nine days, music enthusiasts can wander the streets, stroll through the pubs or take a walk down to the official stages and are sure to find top-class musicians set to entertain them and ready to have a great time while they do it.
For those venturing to Glór, the premier performance space in Ennis, or to the special Dome at Tim Smythe Park in the center of Ennis, you can expect class acts such as Martin Hayes, Maura O’Connell, Stockton’s Wing, Frankie Gavin, The Kilfenora Céilí Band and Cherish the Ladies.
And if you haven’t managed to make the trip to Ennis this year, no need to fret. From Thursday until Sunday, Fleadh TV will be live on TG4, on tg4.tv or on the Fleadh Cheoil website fleadhcheoil.ie between 8.30pm and 11.30 Irish time. Perfect afternoon viewing if you’re located Stateside.
For social media fans you can also follow of the fun on Snapchat via @FleadhTV or @TG4TV.