Australian Celtic Festival Newsletter – January 2020


In this month’s newsletter find out about our 2020 Early Bird offers, going on sale 1st February. We have updates on our program, along with some interesting articles from our guest writers from the Australian Standing Stones Management Board and the Caledonian Society based here in Glen Innes Highlands.


It’s the moment you have been waiting for!

Early bird tickets go on sale starting 1st February for one month only. Early bird tickets are limited so get in quick to get your discounted tickets and Australian Celtic Festival Merchandise.
We’re expanding our Early-bird promotion so that everyone has the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets and we’re providing more opportunities to save money!

What you get:
15% discount off ticket prices
A free ‘Year of’ badge with each ticket purchased
Option to purchase a Local Business Discount Voucher Pack
Option to purchase an Australian Celtic Festival Shirt for 25% off

Tickets will be available online from the 1st Feb: Australian Celtic Festival 2020 Tickets


2020 ACF SCHED Program

Our digital program for the 2020 Australian Celtic Festival is now live.

Australian Celtic Festival 2020 online program.

The great thing about SCHED is that you have lots of options with regard to how you use it.
The first thing you should know is that you can access our SCHED program not just from your computer, but also from your phone.  Whether you have an iOS or Android phone, you can now access our event with the Sched App.  Program information is available to you offline once it’s loaded, but you also have the option of syncing the program to your calendar (Apple iCal, Google Calendar, and Microsoft), so that you will always have the most current information, which is great for keeping up with last minute changes that sometimes occur.

Another great feature of SCHED is that you can personalise the ACF Program – you can create your own agenda by bookmarking your favourite sessions ahead of time, and you can share that information with your friends.  Wondering where your friends will be?  You can see which sessions/events your friends are planning to attend over the Festival period as well.
Once you have your account and the Festival starts, you will receive emails with your Daily Schedule each morning.  These emails include quick links to view the full schedule, will sync to
your calendar and is printable.

But what if you are caught out and can’t remember the website to look for?  We’ve got you covered.  You’ll be able to access ACF SCHED by using our QR Code.  You’ll see it lots of places over the weekend, but if you want to give it a try now, we’ve added it to this newsletter.  You’ll need to have a QR Code Reader on your phone, but that app is free to download (and really useful for other things).

SCHED allows you to see the ACF program at a glance, and you can filter events by type, by date, even by what’s most popular!  And you can find all the performances of your favourite band without having to scroll through the whole program.  SCHED is your best bet for knowing what’s happening and what’s on during the Festival.  You won’t be able to experience it all, but you will be able to experience everything that is most important to you.

Scan below to download SCHED:



We have some exciting and talented performers lined up for the 2020 Festival offering an authentic and modern Celtic experience.

A full list of performers can be viewed on our website.


Applications & Bookings

Busking Applications
Calling all budding musical prodigies!  We are looking for buskers to help complete our Celtic Festival atmosphere in the Glen Innes CBD and hope you want to be a part of the action. Whether you sing, dance, play an instrument or all the above, we want to welcome you to our event.
And in recognition of all that talent, all our buskers are automatically entered into our
Busking Competition.
For more information on busking or to apply click here.

Volunteer Applications
Sign up to volunteer at the 2020 Australian Celtic Festival for a free day or weekend pass, and a chance to work behind the scenes!  Be a greeter, an MC, a Parade marshal or help us with site set up and/or tear down.  There’s plenty of opportunity to be a part of the ACF and attend for free.
Sign up today!

Other Applications & Bookings
Be part of something great, apply now to make sure you don’t miss out!
Trader Applications
Clan and Celtic Society Booking Information
Australian Celtic Dance Championships Entry Form
Australian Celtic Fashion Awards Entry Form
Triquetra Awards Nomination Form


Feature Article: Australian Standing Stones Management Board


The official Inauguration of the Australian Standing Stones took place on 1 February 1992.  Finally, the big day had arrived with many special activities in place to celebrate this momentous occasion.

The official opening was made by Rear Admiral Peter Sinclair AO, Governor of NSW with the 6th Light Horse providing the escort and the Hunter River Lancers, the guard.

The sound of the Lone Piper at dawn heralded the beginning of this unique event with the beautiful voices of the Newcastle Cambrian Welsh Choir following on.

The dedication and inauguration of the Stones took place before an estimated crowd of 3,500.  The date was significant as it marked the time of the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc.  This time, in the northern hemisphere, marked the coming of spring.

Then Minister for Tourism, the Honourable Michael Yabsley, installed the Guardians of the Stones.  This select group of people were appointed as members of an Honorary College of Guardians which was a way of recognising those who had worked for and helped with the development of the Australian Standing Stones.  It also provided recognition to the various Celtic groups and societies.

Other features of the Standing Stones include the Gorsedd and Ogham Stones, both situated to the south of the main array.  The Welsh, Cornish and Irish communities requested these additional stones.

The Gorsedd stone, for the Cornish and the Welsh, is the only recumbent stone on site.  In ancient times, the gorsedd was used for the ‘crowning of the Bard’.  The Welsh word gorsedd means ‘throne’.

The Ogham Stone, requested by the Irish, has been inscribed with the ancient Ogham form of writing and is the biggest stone of the array.  The inscription around the southern edge reads “Glean Maqi Aongusa” – translated from Gaelic this becomes, ‘The Glen of the Sons of Angus’.  As Innes and Angus share the common form in Gaelic, the inscription simply says, “Glen Innes”.

Tynwald Hill, further to the south of the Gorsedd and Ogham stones acknowledges the Manx parliament – Tynwald, begun over 1,000 years ago by the Vikings.
The Hill of Tara, to the north of the main array, is representational of the Hill of Tara near Dublin where the ancient Irish kings were crowned.

Our very own Excalibur is universally recognised.  This most famous sword of King Arthur links all Celts. The plaque reads ‘He who so ever pulleth the sword from this stone, shall be endowed with Great Knowledge and Wisdom’.  It was proud Welshman, John Mathew’s idea to have Excalibur on site.  It is certainly a drawcard for many who continue to attempt to gain great knowledge and wisdom – as yet, to no avail!

Next Month……..The Guardians of the Australian Standing Stones

Judi Toms D Urr

Chair, Australian Standing Stones Management Board


Where can I find Accommodation?

We are so happy that you want to attend the 2020 Australian Celtic Festival celebrating the Celtic Nations of Ireland and the Isle of Man.  Ireland is always a big year for numbers of visitors, so we at the Glen Innes Visitor Information Centre and the ACF Office recommend that you begin looking for accommodation as soon as you can.

Glen Innes Highlands is a great destination, offering so much to see and do while you are visiting; however, the number of visitors to the area during the Festival period far exceeds the number of beds we have available.  What is a visitor to do?

The first port of call that we recommend to visitors is to visit our Glen Innes Highlands website to see all the different options we have for accommodation.  From farm stays to caravan parks, motels, hotels and B&Bs, Glen Innes has something for every need.  Although it’s quite possible that by the time February comes around most of those options (aside from camping/caravanning) are fully booked, you might just come across a gem that no one had considered before!

But there are other options you might like to consider, too.
LJ Hooker Glen Innes runs a Home Stay program for Festival accommodation.  They have a list of homes and rooms that are available for rent and they might be able to find something for you.  Mel Lindsay is the person to ask for and you can reach her at 02 6732 2326 or by email at

Following that, we suggest having a look at Airbnb.  We know that there are places in town who advertise rooms or cabins/cottages through that site and might still be available for the Festival weekend.
A third option is to look further afield at Guyra, Armidale, Inverell, Deepwater, and Tenterfield.  These towns are 40 minutes to an hour away from us, but they always have accommodation available over the weekend.  Check out their motels, caravan parks, and Airbnb offers.
Depending on where you are coming from, it will make your trip a little shorter, while bringing a bit of a boost to their towns, too.

We know that finding accommodation can be stressful sometimes, especially when it’s getting hard to find.  If you are having particular trouble, please contact the Glen Innes Visitor Information Centre at 02 6730 2400 to ask if they have any recommendations.  We will do the very best to help you have a great experience in the Glen Innes Highlands and the Australian Celtic Festival.

Lara Gresham
Australian Celtic Festival Consultant

For more frequently asked questions visit our website


Which witch is which witch?
Welcome to the Year of Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Jinny the Witch flew over the house
To fetch the stick to lather the mouse
Hop tu Naa, Traa-la-laaa?

If you lived on the Isle of Man, there’s a good chance you would hear this song sung at your door during Hop tu Naa – a Manx variation of Halloween – by turnip-wielding children dressed as witches or ghosts seeking treats and sweets.

The song conjures up the classic idea of a terrifying witch, streaking across the night sky on her broomstick, shrieking curses and invoking dark magic.

A little over 300 years ago, the trial of the woman who is accredited as being the real person behind the legend of Jinny the Witch, Joney Lowney, resulted in her conviction for cursing and killing livestock, casting the evil eye on passers-by, and spoiling a neighbour’s milk.

However, in stark contrast to similar witch trials held in England and Continental Europe around the same time, she escaped a gruesome fate, and went on to revel in her status as a renowned witch.

How did Jinny get over the house?  And was it even Jinny? But did she though?
Some of the earliest versions of the song, from the 1840’s, begin ‘Noght Oie Houney’ – ‘Tonight is Houney/Hollantide Eve’. This ‘Hollantide Eve’ name for the evening remained through to the mid-20th century, when it was displaced by ‘Hop tu Naa’. Of course, this name comes from the song’s refrain, ‘it’s Hop tu Naa night’. In fact, one set of the words, dating back perhaps 200 years, speaks of ‘Tonight is New Year’s night.’ This supports the theory that ‘Hop tu Naa’ relates to ‘Hogmanay’, Scottish New Year’s Eve.  The thought is that in pre-Christian times the year was measured from November to October. So, October 31 was indeed ‘New Year’s Night’. Versions of the song were recorded for decades before Jinny was even mentioned, and even then – in the 1890’s – she was ‘Jenny Swinny’ or ‘Jinny Squinney’. It was only in the 1950’s that she emerged at last as a witch. Admittedly, Jinny appears to be witch-like in going over the house. But one of the earliest versions states …

‘Jinny Squinney went over the wall, to get a rod to beat the foal,
Jinny Squinney went over the house, to get a rod to beat the mouse,
Jinny Squinney went up to the Claddagh, to get an apron full of barragh.’

The Caledonian Society will hold a free luncheon featuring the Isle of Man’s national street food – chips, grated cheddar and gravy – with information about Manx and Irish customs centred around Halloween and Hunting the Wren.  The dances Hunt the Wren (Manx: Shelg yn Drean; Irish: La an Dreoilin) and Hop tu Naa will also be performed.

Date:  Thursday, 30 April 2020
Time:  10:45 am for 11:00 am start
Location:  Quinton Park, in front of the Glen Innes Railway Station

Stay tuned for information about Hunting the Wren.

Article by Garek Fysch D Ua
Chair Caledonian Society Glen Innes, with thanks to


Glen Innes Showground ACF Camping

Bookings for camping at the Glen Innes Showground during the Festival period are now open.

The Showground is one of the main camping areas available to Festival goers every year. They can meet the needs of individual campers, as well as small and large groups.

For further information visit the Glen Innes Showground


Other News and Updates

Thank you to our 2020 ACF Sponsors for your support:
Destination NSW
Glen Innes Severn Council
Glen Innes & District Services Club
NBN News
Malcolm & Norma Parsons
Glen Innes Highlands Visitor Association
Glen Innes Veterinary Hospital
Fossickers Caravan Park
Gawura Gallery

If you or your business would like to support the 2020 Australian Celtic Festival, contact the ACF Office on 02 6730 2404 or read about our Sponsorship opportunities on the ACF website.

There are still ad spaces available in the Official Festival Program with packages starting at $250.


For the latest updates on the Australian Celtic Music Awards visit their website.

The Glen Innes Services Club hosts the presentation of the Australian Celtic Music Awards at the official Celtic Awards Night on the first Saturday of May each year. The gala night includes entertainment and a dinner, the presentation of the Australian Celtic Music Awards and presentation of the Australian Celtic Festival Committee’s annual Triquetra Award.

For more Celtic News click here and don’t forget to sign up to their newsletter!


Whats Next?

Next month we’ll have more updates for you on the 2020 Australian Celtic Festival – Year of Ireland & Isle of Man as well as more featured articles from our guest editors.

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