The 2009 Houston International Festival, honoring Ireland, returns to downtown Houston April 18-19 and 25-26, 2009, featuring continuous music, dance and cultural performances on 12 stages.

Traditional Celtic music and dance will be showcased on Center Stage, built over the Reflection Pool in front of Houston’s City Hall. Headliners include Ireland’s hottest new band, Beoga, from County Down; Boston’s celebrated Irish-American lasses, Cherish the Ladies; and Scotland’s enchanting Gaelic thrush, Julie Fowlis. These incredible artists will be joined each night by an all-star team of Houston’s champion Irish dancers, drawn from the local troupes McTeggart, O’Maoileidigh and Cass. While guests enjoy the fantastic entertainment lineup on Center Stage, unique eats will be close by in the surrounding food court.

 The Irish Pub Stage, located on the front steps of Houston City Hall, will serve up world-class Irish sessions hosted by the great fiddler from County Cork, Kevin Burke, along with authentic Irish pub grub and brew. Joining Kevin and his trio each day will be top regional Irish and Celtic artists such as Danny O’Flaherty, Lonestar Stout, Clandestine and Constant Billy, as well as acoustic Texas artists the Quebe Sisters Band, Les Amis Creole, Charles Thibodeaux and the Gillette Brothers.

 Headlining the Bud Light World Music Stage in Lower Sam Houston Park are funk legends the Ohio Players,  soul/gospel queen Mavis Staples, South African jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela,  and Chicano roots-rockers Los Lobos, hosting the festival’s “Celtic/Conjunto” finale on April 26. International acts include Nigeria’s Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Puerto Rico’s Plena Libre, Jamaica’s Rootz Underground and the Wailing Souls, Guinea’s Alpha Yaya Diallo and Quebec’s Chic Gamine, joined by Louisiana’s homegrown R&B/soul crooner Marc Broussard. Each year, iFest’s World Stage puts the best of world music next to the finest American roots music to demonstrate how music can communicate across cultural and linguistic barriers. This year’s lineup is one of our greatest yet.