Spotlight On: The Dunedin Celtic Festival and the Scottish Town of Dunedin, FL

by Katherine Laursen

There is nothing like a well-played set of bagpipes.  I know this might come as a shock to some people, but given the right environment (preferably outside) and generous amount of skill and musicianship, bagpipes can be quite beautiful. While Florida has many towns each with their own history and cultural heritage, Dunedin’s Scottish traditions are unparalleled in the Sunshine State with multiple events, clubs, and school ensembles dedicated to the culture of the Scottish Isles. Scottish families originally settled the City of Dunedin in 1899, and it was named by two Scotsmen, J.O. Douglas and James Sumerville, for their hometown in Scotland. So if you enjoy the sweet sounds of bagpipes, Dunedin is a great place to visit.

If you’re still not convinced, the 15th Annual Dunedin Celtic Festival this Saturday, November 23rd will be a great way to ease yourself into Scottish culture with Celtic rock bands, craft beer, amazing food and the gathering of the clans.  Located at Dunedin Highlander Park, this outdoor venue is also home to the Dunedin Community Center complex.

The 2013 Dunedin Celtic Festival will be held Saturday, November 23.

The 2013 Dunedin Celtic Festival will be held Saturday, November 23.

The gates open at 11am and the first band takes the stage at 12:30pm.  This year’s main stage will be in the area behind the Dunedin Community Center complex and will feature regional, national, and international Celtic music artists including Seven Nations, The Kildares, Celtica, Juniper and the Fighting Jamesons, along with the City of Dunedin Pipe Band. The lake stage will feature acoustic acts along with the Dunedin High School and Dunedin Highland Middle School bands and Highland dancers.  Check out the schedule, but make sure to arrive early for the best seats!

This year, the Dunedin Celtic Festival is host to six specialty breweries: Dunedin Brewery, 7venth Sun Brewery, Barley Mow Brewing Company, Cigar City Brewing, Sea Dog Brewing Company and Narragansett Brewing Company.  You will find them around the outer edges of the main stage along with all of the wonderful food vendors, Holy Cow, Camerons British Foods, Flanagan’s Irish Pub, Jack’s Wood Fired Pizza, Grandma Toni’s Ice Cream, Mookie’s Kettle Corn, Serendipity, Dunedin High School and Dunedin Highland Middle School.

This event goes on rain or shine and all of the proceeds from the festival go directly to the three Scottish programs of Dunedin: Dunedin Highland Middle School Band under the direction of David Mason, Dunedin High School Band under the direction of Ian Black and the City of Dunedin Pipe Band under the direction of Iain Donaldson.

Buying your tickets in advance will only cost you $12 but go up to $15 at the gate.  All children under the age of 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult, and there are several parking options. It will be completely outside so plan accordingly with hats and sunscreen or find a shady spot under the many trees in the park. Feel free to bring a chair or blanket to sit on, but all tents, umbrellas, coolers, food and pets should be left at home.

If that isn’t enough Scottish culture for you, Dunedin has plenty more to offer. Make sure to mark your calendars for the 48th Annual Dunedin Highland Games on April 5th, 2014 and the Military Tattoo April 12th, 2014! Any trip to Dunedin can include a taste of Scottish culture and the sound of bagpipes. According to the Dunedin Highland Games, “Bagpipes are woven into the fabric of Dunedin, as intimately as the wool in the tartan worn by the pipers themselves. Citizens (whether children, teens, adults, or seniors) all love to listen to pipe music. A function in Dunedin is not complete without a Piper!”