How far would you travel for your child to compete in an Irish dancing competition? What is doable or normal as far as travel-time for a feis? Back to the original question in the title of this post- How far is too far to travel for a feis? The answer to any of these questions, for the most part, has to do with whether or not one plans on spending the night near the feis venue.

On most any given weekend in the world of Irish dance, there is a feis (Irish dance competition). Usually, there are more than one, and so, choices must be made as to which one to take one's children to.  Travel time is a major deciding factor.  

Many parents feel that two hours each way to a feis- as far as travel time- is reasonable to do in one day.  Anything more than that is left to the die-hard feis moms, and is not the norm.  If the travel time is two hours or more, than whether or not to do the feis becomes more about whether or not a stay at a hotel near the feis venue and whether staying at a hotel is doable financially and/or schedule-wise. 

I happen to be one of those die-hard feis moms who has been known to traipse across the country up to four hours each way to get my child to and from a feis venue.  I'm on a budget and have other, non-Irish dancing kids and commitments, so an overnight is not usually feasable financially or due to schedule constraints.  This kind of long day and extreme driving is not for the faint of heart, or those who don't like to drive, or those who tire easily, or those who frankly aren't as crazy as I've been known to be.  Once, I even did a five hour trip, but after nearly falling asleep at the wheel on the way home, I have elected to never push myself quite so much as an Irish dance chauffeur again.  Ten hours of drive time in one day is just too much for this momma. 

If one plans to spend the night, there are usually hotels that are local to the feis.  Most feisanna have a special, reduced "feis price" for the weekend of the feis.  This makes staying over at a feis more reasonable as far as price.  Another idea, if travel to a feis includes a stay over, is to use a hotel-linked credit card so that one can earn points or monetary value towards staying at a participating chain hotel.

Ciaran Traynor and Sam Davenport
from Rince Na h'Eireann School of Irish Dance, Charlotte, North Carolina
The boys and their moms made a weekend trip north to the Broesler Feis in New Jersey and Inishfree Feis in New York
Photo: Tracy Davenport
Another great idea for feis travel is to see if there are enough families at your or your child's Irish dance school who might like to carpool or even rent a bus and go as a group to more distant feises.  This can be great fun and make for a memorable Irish dance adventure for you, the other parents, and the kids. 

I recently set up a Facebook poll asking how many feisanna are within a one and a half hour travel-time distance.  I was very surprised by the results!  While moms in England, Scotland, and Ireland reported having at least one feis a weekend for their children to compete in, depending on which area of North America one lives in, there are on average between two and six local feisanna a year. 

Here is a link to the North American Feis Commission.  This is the complete list and schedule of An Coimisiun le Rince Gaelacha (CLRG) feisanna within North America for 2012.  Use the addresses and Mapquest, Google map, Bing map, or GPS the location to compare distances and choose feisanna that are a reasonable distance for you to travel to.

For those Irish dancers or Irish dance parents outside of North America, or associated with other Irish dancing organizations, there are several sites to find the lists and schedules of local feisanna along with links to contact the feis organizer or registrar.  

Australia Irish Dance Association

World Irish Dance Association ~ Many European feisanna
Registered Teachers Mainland Europe
An Coimisiun le Rince Gaelacha ~Ireland, England feisanna
Connacht Irish Dancing Feiseanna ~ Another schedule of some of the feisanna local to Ireland

I did find that it was more difficult finding feis schedules, online registration, and feis information for Ireland, Scotland, England, New Zealand, and South Africa.  When I asked moms from these areas of the world how they know where and when feisanna are, they said it is mainly registration by post or through their Irish dance schools.  Word of mouth and communication through their Irish dance schools and from their teachers seemed to be the norm. 

Those same areas were also the ones that have the least travel times to get to feiseanna. 

Here's hoping you have safe travels to all of your or your children's feiseanna whether they be local or a greater distance! 

Oh, and one last thing about traveling to Irish dancing competitions:  We always laugh that we only need the navigation or maps to work for 9/10 of our trip.  At that point we can follow the cars with Irish dance stickers or girls in Irish dance wigs!

Where do you travel to compete in Irish dance?  What are your favorite weekend destinations when you're feising?  Share your association's calendar of events with a link in the comments section below.