If you’ve never been to Peoria Irish Fest, here’s everything you need to know


Roxy Baker, Guest Writer


The Irish are notoriously a kind and fun-loving lot, and that sentiment is felt each and every year at the Peoria Irish Fest.

Many of the residents in Greater Peoria can trace their roots back to the Emerald Isle, but much like St Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish at Irish Fest!

With family as their #1 priority, the Irish have perfected how to celebrate life and enjoy to the fullest!

Top 10 Best Things About Peoria Irish Fest…Where the craic is mighty (pronounced krak, an Irish term that means enjoyable social activity; a good time!)

  1. Happy Hour 5K // Get a running start at the fest Friday on a nice flat course following the Illinois River. Race registration includes your Friday entry fee and two beverage tickets! If running isn’t your speed, slow it down for the untimed 1-mile walk. Either way, it will warm your soul as a portion of proceeds will benefit the Stacey Tomczyk Fund for Local Programming…her love of the fest lives on!
  2. Shopping at the Grafton Street Vendors area // Just like in Dublin, only more compact! Authentic Irish and Celtic souvenirs, woolens, jewelry, and other magical novelties are just waiting to brighten your day. Take home a part of the Emerald Isle without even leaving the States!
  3. The Wee Folk Area for the wee ones in your life // They are people too! Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5pm, bring the kids for face painting, a bounce house, storytime, crafts, a scavenger hunt with prizes… Oh…and it is FREE! Adult supervision is a must.
  4. Irish Dance is rich in history, but don’t move your arms! // Come witness the ancient art form performed by talented dancers from all over Central Illinois on their very own Dance Stage near the Snug (that is a wee cozy bar that has moved this year….more on that later!)
  5. The ancient Highland Games // Held on the wide open sports field next to the North Tent and a sight to behold! Saturday, witness an exhibition with friendly competition between Scotland and Ireland & later everyone can be a part, signup at the fest! On Sunday things get serious with an actual competition of feats of strength! How far can they throw the stone or the light & heavy weights? What is a caber and why does it look like a light pole…oh…they throw it, along with bales of straw wrapped in burlap…all while wearing a kilt. And new to Irish Fest this year… Practice your skills & channel your inner Celtic warrior with Axe Throwing…for FREE!
  6. Live Irish music is everywhere at the fest on several stages // Get cozy at the Snug with intimate Irish trad sets and workshops, head to a bit bigger venue and catch local, national and international Irish bands at O’Neil’s or make your way to the big North Stage next to Haney’s Pub…seating is provided under the tents, but you may not need it since you will be up dancing! Don’t miss the Red Hot Chili Pipers…seriously…Rock music with bagpipes!
  7. Visit the Cultural Village // Expand your Irish knowledge and learn of their quest to survive here in the States. Explore the Irish heritage and its impact on Central Illinois…learning is FUN! Find out about the Ancient Order of Hibernians, learn about Irish Wolfhounds, discover Peoria’s Irish sister city with the Friends of Clonmel, and celebrate the famous Irish from our fair city. Expand your Irish knowledge as you meander through the Cultural Village.
  8. Be on the lookout // For the…Tart on a Cart! At random times throughout the weekend, you may see a volunteer Tart riding around selling samples of spirits…try one you like and you can head to the Tasting Room on the 3rd floor of the Gateway building near Vince’s Whiskey Terrace or to Malanaphy’s to try a bit more!
  9. Grab a pint or a whiskey // If you are of a certain age, of course! You have so many options, eight pubs with Irish beer styles as well as American offerings and unique personalities. You can check them all out with a Pub Tour.
  10. Change can sometimes be scary // But this year the Fest is taking that risk! Check out the ol’ stages switch-a-roo! Pubs too…this year, the Snug and Irish Dance Stage are moving to the grassy area that was previously home to Haney’s Pub & the Main Entertainment Stage and they are going to give the CEFCU Center Stage area a go!

Get all the information & grab your pre-sale discounted ticket for this year’s Peoria Irish Fest here.

Discover all things Irish with family and friends this weekend…Slainte! (that means good health…and Cheers!) 

Roxy Baker, Guest Writer
Discover Peoria, IL