Celebrate Irish heritage down the shore this fall

Ring in the start of fall at a four-day event down the shore that celebrates Irish culture.

The 31st annual Irish Fall Festival, the largest Irish festival on the East Coast, takes place in Wildwood Thursday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 25.

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Festival goers can expect four days worth of entertaining events commemorating Irish heritage. Given that about 1.26 million people, or 14 percent of the population, in New Jersey have listed Irish as their first or second biggest bloodline, there should be many people ready to celebrate (or pretend they’re Irish) during the weekend. 

The event is sponsored by James J. Reilly, Division 1, Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH). The AOH organization fosters and preserves Irish heritage.

Festivities kick off on Thursday, Sept. 22, with a golf tournament at Cape May National Golf Course, located at Route 9 and Fairway Drive in Cape May. It costs $120 to enter, which includes green fee, cart, dinner, refreshments and prizes. Interested golfers can call the AOH at 800-474-7491 to enter.

The party really gets going Friday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 25, when vendors with Irish merchandise and treats will line Olde New Jersey Avenue in North Wildwood daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

On Friday and Saturday, free live Irish entertainment will take to the main stage at Chestnut and Olde New Jersey Avenue from noon to 8:30 p.m. There will also be music in the pubs and taverns in the area. Performers are slated to include Broken Shillelaghs, Birmingham 6, Timmy Kelly, Brothers McGillian, and more. Visitors will also get to enjoy performances by Irish Schools of Dance throughout both days.

Saturday will also feature a 5K run and one-mile family walk at 8 a.m. Registration will take place at the AOH tent between 1st and 2nd avenues on Olde New Jersey Avenue the day of the event. Interested participants can also pre-register online.

Specifically on Saturday, entertainment at Bill Henfey Park (8th and Central avenues) will begin at 10 a.m. with the Brian Riley Pipe Exhibition, featuring some of the best pipe bands in the East. Free Irish dance lessons will be given from 10 a.m. until noon at the Elks Lodge on West Jersey Avenue.

Wrapping up the weekend, on Sunday there will be a 10:30 a.m. Irish heritage mass at Saint Ann’s Roman Catholic Church, on Glenwood and Atlantic avenues. 

A parade full of bag pipe bands and dance groups will follow the mass, beginning at 12:30 p.m. from 20th and Surf avenues, continuing to Spruce and Olde New Jersey avenues. 

Irish Fall Festival

Friday, Sept. 23, through Sunday, Sept. 25 (Golf tournament on Thursday, Sept. 22)
8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Olde New Jersey Avenue, Wildwood, NJ 08260

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