Origins of the Australian
In 1992, a group of passionate Glen Innes Highlands locals organised the very first Australian Celtic Festival at the Australian Standing Stones at the Centennial Parklands, Glen Innes.
The Australian Standing Stones were inaugurated in February 1992, born out of our town’s strong connection with its Celtic heritage of Scottish pastoralists and Cornish and Welsh miners. The idea of the Festival originated for the promotion of the Stones.
1992 saw the first Festival held over the first weekend in May and has continued at this date ever since. The date chosen was influenced by the region’s spectacular Autumn colours and being historically a period of clear weather.
The Festival fills the Centennial Parklands with a celebration of Celtic culture, arts, history, music and dance, bringing the whole area to life.
Evolution of the Festival
Over the years, great additions and innovations have been made, such as the colourful Grey Street Parade in town, the Celtic Cultural Awards, Highland games and competitions, and re-enactment camps at the festival site. The festival has grown from a few hundred attendees in the first year to attract over 5,000 attendees from across Australia and overseas.
Glen Innes businesses have been keen to add their own independent events, bringing additional experiences for visitors during the weekend. By the 25th Anniversary Festival in 2017, the variety and energy was highlighted by fireworks.
In 2021 with COVID-19 changing the way we traditionally interact at festivals, we held the first small-scale Australian Celtic Fringe Festival. It was a new experience for new and loyal festival attendees alike, encompassing a family-friendly and diverse event for all ages.
In 2022, we welcomed the return of a full festival program for our 30th anniversary. It was heart-warming to see the return of the crowds and the enthusiasm for celebration after some uncertain times. In 2023, we are celebrating the Year of Scotland and look forward to a full program of Celtic celebration.