Wednesday, August 8, 2007

WEEKEND PICK: ICONS Festival in Canton

From storytelling to step dancing, traditional Irish music to headlining international rock and folk acts, there will be something for everyone at the 2007 ICONS Festival this weekend (Aug. 10-12) at the Irish Cultural Center of New England. Spread out over nearly 50 acres in Canton, this festival will truly offer a range of activities suitable for families.
Formerly known as the Irish Connections Festival, the event has been re-launched this year as ICONS. The event is destined to join festivals such as Glastonbury and Bonnaroo as among the best festivals on the world stage. Bay State Parent magazine is one of the sponsors of the event. The festival will feature music from Irish stars Dervish, Saw Doctors, Tommy Makem, and Altan as well as international recording artists. The Black Crowes, Nanci Griffith, and the Dropkick Murphys. But that's not all. In addition to the music, the full experience will include author readings, sporting events, genealogy workshops, a traditional Irish Tea House and a host of activities geared towards children under age 12.
"From music to literature to traditional dance, the ICONS Festival has been designed to offer something for everyone," said Sean Grant, Executive Director of the Irish Cultural Centre of New England. "While the festival is grounded in Irish tradition, we are exploring the boundaries this year and bringing a more modern look to the traditional arts. We are determined to make the event a destination for all audiences."
A special part of the event for families is Tir na nOg: Land of the Young. This will be the center of children's activities in the festival. Bay State Parent magazine is the sponsor of this area. From storytelling to musical performances, educational activities, puppets, and special characters, Tir na nOg will be the ultimate destination for kids and families. The organizers have picked accomplished artists for this stage area (from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday & Sunday), who will offer fun sets that are just the right length for families. Attendees are invited to choose a craft project, hear songs and stories or learn something new about traditional instruments and dance with their children. In the late afternoon, young people from the region will take the stage in a set called "The Next Generation." For a complete schedule visit:

Children, under age 12, can enter the festival grounds for free with a paying adult. (Festival grounds only tickets are $20 each). However, due to capacity restrictions and public safety requirements, everyone who enters the ICONS Concert Stage area needs an all-access ticket, including children.
On Saturday, ICONS is offering a special discounted all-access ticket for $10 available to children under 12.
All-access tickets are $50 per day or $120 for a three-day all-access pass.

Other highlights of the 2007 ICONS Festival include:
Harpapalooza -- a stage featuring performances from harp orchestras and solo performers as well as a traditional Irish dancers
Literature -- an opportunity to celebrate Ireland's rich and diverse literary tradition with several presentations by authors themselves and reading programs at the festival. Featured writers will include Peter Quinn, author of Looking for Jimmy: A Search for Irish America and Boston Globe Sport columnist Dan Shaughnessy and author of Senior Season
Genealogy has become one of the most popular elements of the festival. The Irish Cultural Center, in conjunction with Tiara, an organization dedicated to assisting individuals in genealogical research, will provide workshops on exploring family names and the roots of one's heritage.
Gaelic Games: The American branch of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) will stage highly competitive games of Hurling and Gaelic Football played by both men and women through the weekend. Explanations and exhibitions of the origins and currency of the games will also be on display.
The world of traditional dance has always been an intrinsic part of Irish culture and recently has made its appearance into popular culture. Sean-nos dance, meaning "old-style" is a solo percussive dance originating from Ireland and its revival is currently sweeping Ireland and spreading to American dance communities. Traditionally performed by men, four American women from across the country - Shannon Dunne, Alicia Guinn, Kiernan Jordan and Maldon Meehan -- will join the 2007 ICONS Festival to explore and present the fascinating trends and techniques of Irish sean-nos dance.
The Marketplace -- featuring the finest Irish and Irish-connected goods. From art, jewelry, clothing, antiques, pottery, books and music, The Marketplace will allow visitors to take a little piece of Ireland home with them.
Musical performances: Long the heart of the ICONS Festival, this year's line up will surpass any seen before. Performances from the headline acts will take place in the evenings while other artists will perform during the day. From the Black Crowes (Friday night), Saw Doctors, Nanci Griffith (Saturday), Dervish, Dropkick Murphys (Sunday) to the all-female, Appalachian revivalists Uncle Earl, produced by the legendary John Paul Jones, the musical performances are designed to impress. Other artists participating include Altan, Cara Dillon, the Prodigals, Tommy Fleming, Liz Carroll and John Doyle, Tommy Makem, Paddy Keenan, Niamh Parsons, Mick Moloney, Jimmy Crowley will join newer arrivals like Beoga, Maeve Gilchrist, The Roches, and Antje Duvekot, whose acclaimed breakthrough album was produced by Seamus Egan of Solas. In addition, workshops, jam sessions, and special pairings will generate intrigue and unpredictability

The ICONS Festival takes place this weekend -- Aug. 10, 11 and 12 -- at the Irish Cultural Center of New England, located at 200 New Boston Drive in Canton.

Bay State Parent magazine is the sponsor of the Tir na nOg: Land of the Young area on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Stop by our booth, pick up a magazine, enter a contest, have your child do a craft, & say hello. (

To order tickets or for more information, visit

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