Summer is practically synonymous with festivals in Flagstaff. There’s the Flag-centric Hullabaloo in May and Art in the Park in July, but it’s the heritage festivals that do their part to blend art and music with history, celebrating the rich cultures that make up our community. Two heritage festivals coming up in the next few weeks are local favorites that keep people coming back year after year.
Arizona Highland Celtic Festival
Saturday and Sunday, July 20-21
The Northern Arizona Celtic Heritage Society was founded in 1997 as a way to promote and preserve Celtic culture, and part of that is its annual Celtic festival which has been going strong for 22 years. The nonprofit puts on the Arizona Highland Celtic Festival as a means to educate the public on the language, traditions and art of the Celtic people, both ancient and modern. It brings people together year after year to celebrate where they’ve come from.
“You never see more hugs than at a Celtic event,” said Jude McKenzie, NACHS business manager. “That’s what's so wonderful; it creates a sense of community.”
The festival features several known and loved staples, including music from The Knockabouts, The Wicked Tinkers, The Ploughboys and Cinnamon Twist. For The Knockabouts, they focus on having a bawdy good time as much as staying true to their roots.
“We’ve always stuck to being very traditional,” said John McGregor, one of the band’s founders. “A lot of Irish and Celtic bands would start adding electric this, electric that. My philosophy was that everything goes back around and a lot of people still want traditional sounds.”
Along with traditional sounds, festival goers can enjoy activities including Highland Dance, Scottish Athletics and Tug o’ War. This year will also see a Celtic Kids Corner, Celtic geology exhibit, Celtic societies, genealogical research tent, plants of the Celtic regions tent, Scottish clan information and much more. Reenactments are always a big part of the festival and those, alongside workshops on Celtic music and whiskey tastings, will also be featured.
The festival is switching venues this year, moving to Fort Tuthill County Park where it will have more space for all its popular attractions. Parking is free, and well-behaved dogs are welcome.
Fort Tuthill is located at 2446 Fort Tuthill Loop, just off the I-17 at the Pulliam Airport Exit. Visit www.nachs.info/festival.shtml for more information.
Navajo Festival of Arts & Culture
Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 3-4
Flagstaff was built, and exists, on Native land. Celebrating Diné culture Aug. 3-4, the 70th annual Navajo Festival of Arts & Culture features artistry and lectures by award-winning Navajo artists, speakers and musicians.
Hosted at the Museum of Northern Arizona, the festival is one of contemporary and traditional Navajo art, artist demonstrations, food, heritage programs and a number of performances and lectures. Last year’s lecture topics included Native feminism and water rights with entertainment featuring performances by The Plateros and The Benally Family Dancers.
Spend your weekend in the cool pines and immerse yourself in the artistry and cultural traditions of award-winning Navajo artists during this year’s celebration, which will host more than 80 artists selling silver work, weaving, paintings and more. Talks on Navajo history and tradition will once again be central to the festival, as will music and dance.
The Museum of Northern Arizona is located at 3101 N. Fort Valley Road. Weekend festival passes are $18 for adults, or $12 for youth ages 10-17, students with ID and American Indians with tribal card. Single-day admission is $12 for adults, or $8 for youth ages 10-17, students with ID and American Indians with tribal card. Free for museum members and children ages 9 and younger.
For more information, visit www.musnaz.org.