Irish culture is on full display at the Iowa Irish Fest, held annually the first weekend in August in downtown Waterloo. The three-day festival features international musical performances, Irish dancers, whiskey classes, a rugby tournament and a 5K race—plus so much more. The schedule is packed with family fun, great food and beverage, and Celtic celebration for all.
Did you know that Irish heritage is prominent in Iowa and the Midwest? Many Irish immigrants settled here to work on the railroads and in coal mines throughout rural America. If you have Irish ancestry, Iowa Irish Fest provides a wonderful opportunity to learn more about your history and culture. Educational events are offered throughout the festival and span a wide range of subjects. Irish dance workshops, cooking demonstrations, blacksmithing presentations and whiskey classes are also some of the most popular events. You can even experience a traditional Irish-Catholic mass held outdoors in Lincoln Park on Sunday morning.
The event spans 12 downtown city blocks and includes 8 entertainment stages with 22 bands and 55 acts scheduled to perform, including headliners Gaelic Storm and Scythian. Events take place on both downtown green spaces—Newton’s Park and Lincoln Park, with a kids zone featured in Lincoln Park. Food vendors line Mulberry street and offer many different options to experience. For a full listing of events and entertainment, to buy tickets, or to sign up to volunteer visit Iowa Irish Fest
Iowa Irish Fest was founded by Cedar Valley Irish Cultural Association (CVICA). Kristina Miller, a CVICA member since 2008, says that it was started by CVICA President Jim Walsh and former Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark as a small gathering in the parking lot of Jameson’s Irish pub. The next year it was organized into a small festival. Since then, this Gaelic gathering has grown exponentially with nearly 50,000 people and 1,400 volunteers participating each year.