SEE our 2017 special events

The Beechworth Celtic Festival will showcase a tremendous array of talent from around the world. The unique cultures of many Celtic nations are celebrated on this weekend full of fun and entertainment.



Friday 10th November

On Friday night, the festival opens with the Gala Celtic Dinner. To be immersed in a traditional Highland evening will touch every drop of Celtic blood in your veins. This year, the Gala Celtic Dinner will be held in the historic Concert Hall at The Old Priory, Beechworth. The buildings were established as a convent & school in 1887 by 4 Irish Brigandine nuns. Intricate turn of the century architecture has been restored and preserved, yielding a fascinating venue with a well-spring of Beechworth history.

The Old Priory reception will open at 6:00pm, & with full bar facilities you are invited to get into the festive Celtic spirit with drinks available in the beautiful gardens. The entertainment will commence with the Haggis Ceremony at 6:30pm, featuring the traditional piping in, followed by Robert Burns Ode to the Haggis in broad Scottish brogue.

The Celtic feast will then commence at 7:00pm & will consist of three courses of hearty fare.

You will be entertained in true Celtic style throughout the evening, with a range of performances from pipers, musicians & Irish dancers, performing exclusively to those attending.

Seating is limited so we suggest you pre-book your tickets for this event. Contact the Old Priory on 03 5728 1024 to book your ticket.


Saturday 11th November 2017

There will be no street closures this year as all the events will be within the walls of the Old Beechworth Gaol

On Saturday, there will be a range of music and dancing in the Old Beechworth Gaol. Pipers, two music stages located in the court & exercise yards. Highland & Irish dancers will perform throughout the day. It will be a celebration of our Celtic origins through music, play and dance, and will feature visiting performers as well as some of Beechworth’s own remarkable talents.

The Rotary Club Celtic Market and “Scots on the Rock” music at Queen Victoria Park will entertain from 9.00am - 3.30pm. The Market offers something for everyone with food, traditional crafts, jewellery and face painting. There will also be a variety of Celtic market stalls and food vendors at the entrance to the Old Beechworth Gaol.

Barry Versus Kelly

A musical drama by Felix Meagher (with additional music by Lou Hesterman and Cyril Moran) is about the trial and execution of Ned Kelly in November 1880. Barry Versus Kelly focuses on the confrontation between Ned and the Judge, Sir Redmond Barry. Barry, whose harsh sentencing of Ned’s mother, Ellen, to three years goal in 1878 sparked the Kelly Outbreak, is haunted by Ned’s last words to him. “I will see you where I go.” Barry is fiercely determined to see Irish rebels like Ned Kelly punished, but he fears he might be making a martyr out of Ned.  Declining in health and suffering delusions, Barry wrestles with his conscience and the fears that his family in Ireland sees him as a traitor. Meanwhile Ellen Kelly, on the day before the hanging, sings to Ned that he is the Loyal Son. Barry finally signs the papers that condemn Kelly and in a dying speech asks that his family be told that “I took a rebel with me”.

Ned Kelly - Anthony Penhall, Judge - Felix Meagher, Ellen Kelly - Cora Browne, Chief Secretary Berry - Michael Yoiung, Chloe - Luci Barratt.  Musicians: Ben Rogers and Lou Hesterman

Old Beechworth Goal Tattoo

7.00 - 8.30pm

A spectacular 90 minutes of majesty, music and dance in the traditions of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo presented in the exercise yard of the Old Beechworth Gaol and featuring 200 performers celebrating the legends, the traditions and the heroes of the north-east.

Join the massed pipes and drums comprising players from Scots School Albury, Albury-Wodonga, Wangaratta, Wagga Wagga, Watsonia and City of Melbourne bands will be joined by Highland and Irish dancers. Celtic folk groups Claymore and Saoirse, Wodonga Brass, our modern-day heroes from local fire brigades and remembering the Kelly legend in song for this festival special event. And the stirring finale - on the 99th anniversary of the World War One Armistice - will pay tribute to those who have served their country in war, conflict and peace.  

Note: Bookings Essential - limited VIP seating also available.


Balmoral Highland Dancing Competition

This year the Victorian Scottish Union Highland Dancing Competition will be held within the walls of the Old Beechworth Gaol. Hosting this competition at the Beechworth Celtic Festival for the 17th year in a row, the Balmoral Highland Dancing Society Inc. are once again delighted to be one of their busiest weekends of the year.

The competition will welcome highland dancers from all over Victoria, who will compete for a number of championships sponsored by Beechworth businesses and families. Presentation of the prestigious Balmoral Award and coveted Mikal Stanimirovitch Memorial Trophy will take place during the day. 

Mr Bill Schrank, well known and respected VSU Highland Dancing Judge will travel from Melbourne to adjudicate.  You will find the competition area set up in the Veggie Garden and dancers will begin competing in the 38 event program at 10.30am. There will be a short lunch break during the day and of course we will be observing one minutes silence at 11am.