Located just off the South West coast between Port Fairy and Warrnambool, approximately three hours from Melbourne, lies a whimsical little village that's more than a bit Irish. The township of Koroit is renowned as a Celtic heartland of Australia. Rich Irish culture continues to reign across the region, with the land itself an echo of the Emerald Isle. This steadfast heritage is a matter of course for the many Hibernian-blooded locals, but once a year, they like to (literally) make a song and dance about it, with the ever-quirky Koroit Irish Festival.
Colourful characters at the Koroit Irish Festival.
Running from Thursday 26th until Sunday 29th of April, this year's festival will again be a celebration of essential Irish culture: music, humour, food and Guinness. Below are some of the traditional highlights of the event.
Poets' Night The Poets' Night will be held at 7:30pm on Thursday at the old Koroit railway station and will be a great opportunity to hear recitals of a few folk favourites plus work from local and visiting poets.
Koroit Irish Festival is an event for young and old.
The main drag will be bursting at the seams on Saturday with a parade of dancing girls in spangled dresses, be-costumed representatives of local institutions, flag waving school children and a few merry music-makers.
Australian Danny Boy Competition A central part of the festival for the last fifteen years, the Australian Danny Boy Competition is a contest of lyrical nostalgia. Entrants perform the old song in heats on Saturday afternoon at the Commercial Hotel, with finalists belting out their rendition for the festival crowd at the Koroit Theatre on Saturday night. The winner will receive unparalleled glory and $1000.
Spud Peeling and Spud Picking Championships The time-honoured Spud Picking Championships and the more recently introduced Spud Peeling Championships will draw the crowd to the Village Green on Saturday afternoon. Last year's spud picking champions will have to be set to defend their title, while local culinary masters will take their place in the race to get under the skin of Ireland's most revered vegetable.
Big Brekky Last Laugh Winding up the festival on Sunday is Big Brekky Last Laugh at the Koroit Bowls Club. Not limited to a simple fast-breaking exercise, Big Brekky Last Laugh will also include performances from several of the festival acts and finish up with a joke telling competition.
There will be lots of different music to jig and reel to.
With a strong focus on live entertainment, there will be an extensive music program in operation all throughout the event. Performers include The Borderers, who are fresh from the Port Fairy Folk Festival, Irish rock band Zeptepi, Cille-Airne with their toe-tapping tunes, The Kilmurphys with spirited traditional and contemporary covers and the much-loved Irish pipers and dancers.
If that isn't enough to keep festival-goers busy, there will also be a traditional Irish mass with a performance by Maria Forde, a series of town displays and two art exhibitions, an all-day market lining the main street on Saturday, plenty of good Irish sustenance at hand, and an area specially devoted to kids with a range of rides and activities.
There's fun for everyone at the Koroit Irish Festival.
Tickets to the festival are $12 and are available from various outlets in the town or can be purchased at the gate. Entry for children under the age of 18 years is free, though there is a fee of $7 for entry to the dedicated children's entertainment area. See the Visit Koroit website for information about accommodation options, and check out our reviews of some of the nearby attractions, such as the Tower Hill Volcano, the Warrnambool Foreshore Precinct and the Port Fairy Lighthouse.