Southern Downs to host Celtic celebration

Dugald Macfarlane, Pamela Clark-Dickson, Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi, Club Warwick RSL CEO Michael Jones, Jayne Shelley and Alexander Manfield. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Jess Baker

The Southern Downs and Granite Belt are abuzz with excitement over a new local event and celebration of “all things Celtic”, which could become a major tourism drawcard for the region.

CelticFest – a joint initiative of the Warwick Caledonian Society, Inverness Highland Dance Studio, and the Warwick Thistle Pipe Band – is set take place from 25 to 27 March next year.

Warwick Caledonian Society chieftain Alexander Manfield said the groups were inspired to organise the event after the Society’s 150th birthday celebration, which included a pipe band muster and a gala dinner.

“Around 2000 people turned up to these events. We saw from that fantastic response that our Celtic heritage has a lot to offer visitors to this region, and we started to dream bigger,” Mr Manfield said.

“We want to give our visitors an immersive CelticFest experience.

“We are hoping the Highland Cow, our logo, takes on a life of its own with Highland Cows in many forms, including fluffy toys, posters or the real McCoy, appearing across the region at all the events, in shop windows, and in places you wouldn’t expect.”

Organisers are already in the midst of planning day two of the festival, Saturday 26 March, which will be held at the Warwick Showgrounds. They are also working with local businesses and groups to develop satellite events across the region on Friday 25 March and Sunday 27 March.

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi said he was confident the event would deliver a “world class experience”.

“It is so important that we don’t forget our roots, where we have come from and the contribution that our forbears have made to the region,” Cr Pennisi said.

“It is great to see a small and dedicated group of individuals prepared to take up the challenge and celebrate our past and our present with a view of highlighting to current and future generations, one of the cultures that are woven into the region’s tapestry.”

Warwick RSL Chief Executive Officer Michael Jones said the club was delighted to partner with CelticFest and help bring the event to life.

“We will be starting our celebrations on St Patrick’s Day on Thursday 17 March and plan to continue our Celtic-themed festivities right through to the CelticFest weekend,” Mr Jones said.

“We’ll make sure the Guinness is flowing.”

Local businesses and community groups interested in taking part in the event are invited to reach out to the team via the CelticFest Facebook page.