Wanting to be closer to the Big Lake, I picked up and moved from Grand Rapids to Muskegon in early 2016. I have fallen in love with my new hometown, for many reasons. In addition to the gorgeous beaches and natural beauty, I’m constantly surprised by the many unique experiences the area has to offer.
One of those delightful discoveries happened when I wandered down to the Michigan Irish Music Festival last September. I had no idea what to expect, and figured I’d spend an hour or two listening to some music and be done. Nope! I ended up staying into the evening and coming back the following day for more.
I was thoroughly enchanted with the experience. Walking through the gates into the sprawling Heritage Landing festival site created a sense of altered reality. Much care has been given to the layout and the aesthetics, it really felt a bit like being transported to the Emerald Isle. The various performances, activities, and amenities pull you into the culture and encourage you to stroll through the best of what the park itself has to offer—from lush green spaces, across bridges, and along the shores of Muskegon Lake—as you make your way around the festival grounds.
As expected, music enticed from every bend in the road. Beyond expectations, however, was the vast amount and selection of musical styles to choose from – from traditional to classical to contemporary rock and more.
“The music and musicians are world-class and very passionate performers, many from Ireland or with Irish roots from Canada or all around the US,” said Laura Holmes, festival marketing director. “Many people don’t realize they even like Irish or Celtic Music but are hooked after the festival experience.”
Beyond the music, there’s so many wonderful ways to immerse oneself in the culture of Ireland. The Celtic Kitchen satisfied my craving for bangers and mash. I headed to the Dingle Peninsula for the Highland Games, watched traditional Irish dance, perused the history exhibition, enjoyed a craft beer (and beer ice cream), and shopped at the Irish Market. Kids will especially like the Wee One’s Area and the Celtic Canines. Many favorite activities are returning this year and interesting new ones are added (Limerick contest anyone?). As you might expect, I’m really looking forward to it all September 14-17. To plan your visit to the festival, check out the website at michiganirish.org
Kerri VanderHoff enjoys attending arts & cultural events and sharing them with others through her writing. She also spends summers sailing Lake Michigan, off seasons teaching at GVSU and MCC, and in between works in consulting at KVH & Associates.