Bagpiping and drumming competitions, Highland dancing and fiddling will take over Nashua High School South for the 17th annual New Hampshire Indoor Scottish Festival.
The festival is happening on Saturday, April 1, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature ongoing activities all day as a way to celebrate Scottish culture. The deadlines to enter in the competitions have passed, but general admission to listen in on performances, visit with vendors and participate in instrument and dance tryouts will still be available at the door.
“[The festival] is very community-oriented, so we encourage kids and families of all ages to come, and especially anyone interested in learning about Scottish culture,” said Pat Edwards, a board member of Scottish Arts, which sponsors the event each year.
Ongoing festivities will be taking place throughout the day in several areas of the school, including the cafeteria and several of the classrooms.
“The fun thing is you’ll walk down the halls of the high school and hear drums or pipes in every corner of the building as the band’s warming up,” Edwards said. “There will be plenty of seating in each of the classrooms as well for people who want to listen.”
Edwards said the Scottish Arts group is also associated with the New Hampshire School of Scottish Arts, which teaches all things Celtic, including bagpiping, pipe drumming and ceilidh dancing. Music students at the school will be performing in some of the competitions, and amateur-level performances will be held as well. She said performers are of all ages and from several other states in addition to New Hampshire. Among the performers will be the New Bedford, Mass.-based Stuart Highlanders, a competitive pipe band with more than 80 members that has appeared at events worldwide since 1964.
More than a dozen New England and Northeast-based vendors selling Celtic-themed jewelry, scarves, kilts and more are expected to attend, including Kiltmaker Judith Sullivan of Keene, Celt Wares, Class Act Imports and Designs by Design.
The Salem-based St. Andrews Society of New Hampshire, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to students pursuing endeavors in Scottish performing arts, will also be on site at the festival to answer visitors’ questions about Scottish heritage in the Granite State, and lunch will be available for purchase.
New to this year’s festival will be opportunities to try out several instruments and dances for participants of all ages, Edwards said.
“We wanted to let people try a little beginner class with a fiddle or drums or ceilidh dance, as a way to make [the festival] more interactive,” she said.
The fiddle workshops and jam sessions, features that were introduced to the festival for the first time last year, are returning. Registration for a small fee is required, but the jam session is free and included with admission. Both are open to competitors and non-competitors.
The festival has grown over the years to attract several hundred visitors and more than 15 different bagpipe bands and competitors.
“People of all cultures and who play all different types of instruments … are welcome to come and find out what we do,” Edwards said.