More often than any other Irish or Celtic festival, I have attended the Celtic Fling in Mt. Hope Estate, Pennsylvania. If you are within driving distance of this fantastic festival the Celtic Fling is a must see, in Northern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It is located on the grounds of the winery at Mt. Hope Estate just off the Pa. Turnpike in Manheim Pa. This Pennsylvania Celtic festival is usually held the last weekend in June. As expected, some weekends I attended were rainy and some blazing hot. No festival is that fun in either condition. Yet, this still remains my favorite all around Celtic festival or perhaps any festival.
The Mount Hope Estate consists of the 200 plus year old 32 room mansion and winery. It was once a private residence until 1936. Surrounded by formal gardens, it is a place to visit even if you don’t go to the Fling.
Set on moderate rolling tree lined hills, the 35 acre grounds where the Celtic Fling is held are also the grounds on which the Pennsylvania Renaissance Fair is held. This is the premier Renaissance festival in Pennsylvania. There are permanent and semi-permanent structures there all year and it is as if you have entered a previous time. These same structures are there for the Celtic Fling. This is the charm of this event. The setting is quite unique and like no other Irish festival I have been to. For some, it is perhaps a little too much Renaissance-like for an Irish and Scottish festival, but this actually makes it more charming and other-worldly to me. You can get lost in your own imagination. Multiple dressed characters walk around, some of whom are warming up for the Renaissance Fair obviously. This is an all day festival for any visitor, so expect to be tired by the end if the day. Mt. Hope’s own brewed beer is available to help a little.
Check out the Ren Faire Here – //www.parenfaire.com/
As most Celtic Festivals go the Celtic Fling of Pennsylvania seems to be mostly Irish and Scottish, though the Celtic nations comprise more than those. The available merchandise here is about as good as you are going to get at any Celtic festival, including jewelry, hats, didgeridoos, kilts, weapons, art, clothing and pagan items. The clothing range is magnificent and includes pagan, leather, medieval, kilts, t-shirts and Celtic dresses of all types. The jewelry selection is too numerous to conceive. There is a cool fairy type Herb garden and shop too. Many products are more Renaissance like than Celtic but somehow this adds to the excitement and atmosphere. There seems to be some commonality between those who enjoy Celtic events and Renaissance events.
There is a large variety of food at the Celtic Fling which has gotten better over the years. The food stands, which are permanent structures, usually are packed, as expected. Some of the foods isn’t exactly Irish or Scottish but you won’t have a problem finding something to eat. Mt. Hope Estate is a winery and now a beer brewery as well, serving a variety of wines and what they call, Swashbuckler Ales (though not all are Ales).
Celtic Fling Bands
The highlight of this Pennsylvania Celtic festival is the number of great bands playing there. This festival usually has one of the best line up of Celtic bands at any Celtic festival in the U.S.A. There are multiple stages and usually up to 16 bands. The have hosted such festive greats as Albannach, Seven Nations, Burning Bridget Cleary, Brother, Scythian, Rathkeltair and Enter the Haggis. As is usual, you will likely miss some performances as some of the stages are spread apart too far to catch every act. But this is typical with any Celtic festival. Irish and Scottish dance groups are also prominent throughout the festival. There is no lack of entertainment!
Check out the Celtic Fling here – //www.parenfaire.com/celtic/main.php
In Central Pennsylvania this is one of the most anticipated events of the year. As far as Pennsylvania Celtic Festivals it is one of the top 3. It is not the cheapest festival but you can usually find discounts somewhere and it is cheaper than most professional sporting events and much more interactive. I look forward to attending every year.