A History of Music Festivals, Part 2: Celts – Utopik

A History of Music Festivals, Part 2: Celts

Authored By Dr Dave 0 Comment(s)

In the medieval period, there were many festivals that celebrated Celtic culture in the form of music, song, storytelling, art and dance.

Wicker Man and Celts

A wicker man, historically connected to Celts


Numerous were based on ancient Celtic festivals, such as the Gaelic event native to Ireland and Scotland known as feis.

Today, feiseanna (plural of feis) have experienced a rebirth and mostly center on Irish dancing.

Irish dancing

Feiseanna now relates to Irish dance competitions


Another example is the Eisteddfod, a still-active annual festival that celebrates Welsh music, dance and performance.

The first event was a bardic competition held at Cardigan Castle, West Wales, by Lord Rhys in 1176. A chair at his table was awarded to the best poet and musician.

In those times, as shown in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, people of high status would sponsor professional bards. Who, in return, wrote songs praising their great deeds (unless you're Sir Robin).

Cardigan Castle

Cardigan Castle, host of the first Eisteddfod


The Scottish equivalent to the Eisteddfod, but without the medieval roots, is the Mòd – a festival celebrating Scottish Gaelic song, arts and culture.

The musical events often involve fiddles, bagpipes and Celtic harps (clàrsachs).

The most important Mòd is the annual Royal National Mòd, which was founded in 1891.

Scottish bagpipe dance

Bagpipes and Scottish dance is part of Mòd




Check out Part 3: Classical music and the elite takeover

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