Celtic Festival / Gaidhealtachd Feis Reports.

#3. Visit the 2001 Cambridge Celtic Festival promotional web-page.
#2. Report on the 2000 Inaugural Tartan Day event in Cambridge
#1. Report on the 1999 Inaugural Hamilton Winter Gaidhealtachd Feis

Now that 2002 is upon us and the event is being repeated again, grab YOUR chance to participate in some way. Earmark Friday evng. 28th, Saturday 29th June, and Sunday June 30th- the Narrows Park effort is being repeated. Afull on evening Ceilidh will be held at the Narroiws Park Camp Hall.

For more information click here

Report on the 1999

Inaugural Hamilton Winter Gaidhealtachd Feis

(June 25th to 27th 1999)
...........for what has happened since and happening now?..
click here

The weekend began on Friday evening upon the arrival of several people staying in the onsite accommodation. Some gathered around the open fire in the lounge adjoining Block 2, for initial socialising, music, yarns and songs.

By 9.30am on Saturday morning a start was made with the morning session. An informal welcome to everyone gathered around a large open fire in the main hall was followed by an introductory presentation by each person those offering workshops or discussion groups. This finished nicely at 11.50am and was followed by a break for lunch and scheduling of workshop times. Some had already been set particular times and at 1.00pm a start was made with the workshops.

The subjects offered were varied and truly pan-Celtic, though some we thought might be available did not eventuate, perhaps due to illness of the presenter. A list of this year's subjects and presenters is appended at the end of this report.

The Saturday afternoon options were intentionally those likely to contribute most to the evening Ceilidh. Activities such as the various dance styles were prime starters and though the workshops were relatively short, by the time the Ceilidh was over participants were well ready for their sleep. The varied program for adults and children (families) kept everyone interested. The children appeared particularly enthralled by the weaving and a chance to do their own spinning, and obviously enjoyed a chance to try different things.

The Ceilidh was well attended with additional people coming just to join in this part of the weekend. A large open fire and seating gathered mainly at that end of the hall set the scene for a companionable, friendly atmosphere. With a good wooden floor and plenty of room, all the dancers and 6 or so sets could fit on the floor. Prior to the break for supper was a traditional NZ haggis ceremony with a superb haggis and eager participants having a crack at their first "address", ably lead by an expert native from Ayrshire. There were Scottish Country dances, Irish set dances, Irish step dancing and Highland dancing demonstrations, musicians on whistle and bodhran, piano accordion, fiddle and bagpipes, a massed Highland Fling by workshop participants, Breton dancing, singing of Welsh, Irish and Scots songs and more. The whole evening flowed well from one Celtic style to another, with a tremendously friendly and eager group of people. Especially gratifying was the spread of ages, with good numbers of young people.

After such a full and energetic Saturday programme, Sunday was naturally slow to get under way. Some risers only appeared after 9.30am by which time workshops were starting up again. There was a decidedly relaxed approach and some discussions and presentations were given to anyone gathered near the big open fire in the main hall. Others were held around the fire in the lounge of Block 2, and others in the chapel.

The programme culminated with a well received chance to have a go at some highland field sports - tossing the caber (three sizes, small for children, medium for normal adults and larger for the adventurous), tossing the sheaf and tossing a weight - for height and for distance, and haggis throwing (the origin of gumboot throwing?). We were fortunate enough to have a photographer from the Waikato Times pay us a visit for the field sports and this resulted in excellent coverage of our event on page 3 in Monday evenings paper (28th June).

The event finished on Sunday afternoon with everyone present being thanked for their contributions and attendance. Numbers, while perhaps fewer than expected, were just fine for managing as an inaugural activity for the Waikato region. Participation was keen and comments indicated that the event was thoroughly enjoyed as refreshing, informative, relaxed, friendly and different. Perhaps not so different for those who may have previously attended the NZ Gaidhealtachd (held at Whangarei Heads during the first week in January each year). However, the event did attract a very significant number of people to whom the pan-Celtic concept was a new and thoroughly worthy experience.

The general opinion was "do it again next year, we'll bring more of our friends and family", the venue was excellent and moreover, the winter temperatures were just fine for the dancing! The event enjoyed really good weather - three frosts in a row ended just a day earlier and though Saturday started as a good Waikato winter morning, there was no rain. Saturday afternoon and Sunday were simply glorious.

To those who came and made their time available for making a presentation and contributing a workshop or discussion go our grateful thanks. To those that missed the chance, and to those that missed out on attending, or participating in the activities and learning - catch up with us next year.

The 1999 inaugural event proved a cultural success, well worth repeating. The venue had plenty of room for indoor and outdoor activities, with very suitable accommodation and facilities. Around 70 people attended, most of whom were New Zealand born Celts with quite diverse backgrounds. People came from as far afield as Wellington, Tauranga, Waihi, Auckland, Te Kuiti and various other places in the Waikato as well as Hamilton and Cambridge.

Information about the Inaugural 1999 Hamilton Winter Gaidhealtachd Feis and for the second Hamilton Winter Gaidhealtachd Feis planned for the year 2000 , will be posted on this web-site at: For Information click here


Highland / National Dancing - Kerryn Ward

Scottish Country Dance - History & Development

- Dianne Murdoch & the Cambridge Scottish Country Dance Society

Scottish Country Dance- Dancing - Rod & Kirstin Downey

Irish step dancing - demos by Rod Downey's sons, Charleton & Andrew

Irish Set Dancing - Noel Armstrong

Breton Step Dancing - Fiona Murdoch

Ceilidh Dancing (for all) - Mathew King and Sylvia Jones

The Mystery and Mastery of pipe music - Geoff Hore

Piping (for Dancing) - Bryan Mitchell

Drumming - Snare, Tenor, Bass (Pipe band style) - Stuart Rogerson

Bodhran & Tin Whistle playing for Beginners - Mathew King

Piano Accordion - Intro. to Playing Techniques and Maintenance - Ron Flintoff

Bobbin Lacemaking - Jill Roberston

Weaving - Mrs Anne McLean

Spinning - Jill Robertson & Mrs Anne McLean

Tartans - Bryan Mitchell

Welsh Language and Song - Alison Reardon

Irish Gaelic Language - Fr. Keane

Celtic Music - What makes it so - Stuart Rogerson

Origins of the Celts & The History of Celtic Art - Ross O'Halloran

Haggis, The Address, and background history - John Murdoch

Highland Games Field Sports - David & Andre MacLachlan/Clan MacLachlan

A Celtic Music Ramble - Noel Armstrong

An Intro' to the Fiddle & Session playing for Beginners - Robyn Rutherford

Song - Scots, Irish, Welsh - everyone who lead a song

Various videos were available for viewing, from Noel Armstrong and the Mitchells

In June 2000 we would like to draw more people out of the woodwork to contribute any subject in keeping with our aims, of expanding the knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of our cultural backgrounds in a contemporary setting. We think the practical involvement in live cultural activities with a modern place in society, can only contribute more to the overall enjoyment and participation in the activities, groups and societies that are present in our communities.

Ours is a living culture, readily accessible and thoroughly enjoyable in a modern context. It IS diverse and rich and a New Zealand culture. New Zealand would not be so without it. But we must not be complacent. We all need to promote it and participate in it.

Come along next year and expand your capacity for enjoyment.

If you could offer workshop(s) on appropriate subject(s) and would like to contribute; Please
contact us.

Bryan Mitchell, (Organiser)
Hamilton Winter Gaidhealtachd Feis


Report on the

Winter Gaidhealtachd Feis, "Tartan day 2000"

(July 1st 2000)

On 1st July 2000 the Cambridge Town hall was hired and as many Celtic, celtic oriented, Scots, Irish, Welsh, genealogy, historical and associated societies were offered FREE space to participate and promote their activities.

The public had FREE access to the Town hall to visit and talk to the persons representing their societies and their various interests. The intention was to provide a means for exposure to the general public of as many such interest groups as possible. Clan MacLachlan even demonstrated paraphenalia for Highland Games.

The various groups that attended provided much interest and some gained new members due to their presence.Two pipe bands played around the town. Some shops made a special effort to have tartan / celtic associated window displays and some even had staff dress appropriately for the occasion.

The NI Pipe Band Centre held it's annual Cambridge competitions at the Cambridge High School from 8am till around 3-4pm. These occur every year and provide competitions for solo pipers and drummers and pipe bands. Prize giving is held in the National Hotel (opposite the Cambridge Town Hall) the proprietors of which sponsor prizes.

In the evening a successful ceilidh was held in the Town Hall and was much enjoyed by everyone who came along. The Ceilidh was enjoyed so much that people who heard about it afterwards were quite disappointed not to have been there.

Copyright 1999
Mitchell Kilt Hire
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