International Festival highlights Irish culture
The 38th annual Houston International Festival will spotlight Ireland as its theme for 2009 and will feature 12 other performance venues of internationally-themed entertainment, beginning Saturday.
Free Preview Day, the official opening day, runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday on Center Stage at City Hall. A ribbon cutting, free lunchtime concert and the Sister Cities International Children’s Parade are just a few of the events that will kick off the weekend ceremonies.
Activities for this year’s iFest will offer an abundance of international music and dance performances, vendors, arts and crafts, food and interactive exhibits.’
Seven entertainment zones will also highlight different regions and countries other than Ireland, such as Jamaica and Africa, Texas, Latin America and Louisiana. These zones will offer a wide range of music such as zydeco, reggae, Cajun, Latin, blues and country.’
The entire festival will extend across 16 acres, including City Hall, Bagby Street and Tranquility and Sam Houston parks. The heart of celebrations will be placed in Ireland Zone, extending from City Hall to upper Sam Houston Park, and will showcase Ireland’s profuse cultural history.’
A replica of the famous Blarney Castle built 600 years ago in addition to a duplicate of a crann’oacute;g, an ancient fortified island, will be on display at the Chevron Ireland Living Museum in upper Sam Houston Park.
Historic events such as the Flight of the Earls, Irish in America and the Golden Age of Christianity, as well as Irish arts, literature and history will also be displayed through interactive exhibits. Also featured, will be a fashion show with kilts and costumes.
Festival-goers will also be able to test their skills in wattling, a traditional method of weaving that uses branches to weave the walls and fences of a structure.
The H-E-B Cultural Stage will have Irish songs and dances alongside cooking demonstrations of traditional Irish cuisine made by local and celebrity chefs. An authentic Irish Pub, modeled after one in Dublin, will also be located in the Irish zone. Expect flavorable world cuisine of the Caribbean and Mediterranean regions, including tastes of Italy, Thailand, Japan and the Southwest.
Center stage will feature performances by various artists, including Beoga, a five-piece traditional band from County Antrim, Ireland and various Irish dance groups.’
Outside of the Ireland Zone is an outdoor art exhibition and shopping venue featuring works from more than 500 worldwide artists.’
All profits from the festival will be donated to iFest arts and education programs. The festival’s 22nd annual education program highlights Ireland in the Teacher’s Curriculum Guide. Dispersed to more than 1,000 schools across Texas, the guide helps teachers educate students about the cultural history of Ireland.
Houston iFest runs noon until 10 p.m. Saturday and noon until 9 p.m. Sunday and April 25-26. Tickets are $15 for general admission at the gate and free for children age 12 and under and can be purchased at local H-E-B stores. For more information, call (713) 654-8808 or visit http://www.ifest.org.
Houston International Festival
When: Noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays
Noon to 9 p.m. Sundays
April 18 ‘- 19, 25 ‘- 26
Cost: Tickets start at $15