Latest News

Okay, I’m here, but where do I eat? September 20, 2018 - Good morning! It’s day one of the 2018 Spanish Peaks Celtic Music Festival (and hopefully you’re here). It won’t be long before the questions come into focus in your still […]
The Spring Fire, Huerfano County, and the Festival September 12, 2018 - On June 27th of this summer a small fire started in the Forbes Park area, five miles east of Ft. Garland, on the west side of La Veta Pass.  What […]
EARLY BIRD DEADLINE EXTENDED! September 4, 2018 - Dear Festival goers, Those of you who have considered the Full Festival pass will be pleased to know that we have extended the deadline for “Early Bird” enrollment. Although the […]

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“Traditions Alive”
Welcome to the 2018
Spanish Peaks International
Celtic Music Festival
September 20 – 23!

Spanish Peaks Country is alive and well. July fires from Cuchara to Gardner ravaged over 100,000 acres of grassland and forest. Thankfully no human life was lost. With herculean efforts from firefighters and a little help from rain, the fires were eventually contained. Just as has happened countless times over the millennia, new life is sprouting on the forest floors, representing the infinite energy in nature and demonstrating that if something is taken, something is also given.

But, the fires did take a toll on many folks in the path of the inferno from worry of the unknown and physical discomfort to the fear of evacuating home, and for many the reality of loss of property and income. Demonstrating the infinite nature of the human spirit, the folks of Spanish Peaks Country have risen up and helped friends and neighbors get through loss and move on. With that same resilient spirit, the many folks that make the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival one of the most unique traditional gatherings in the country have been moving forward, determined to keep traditions alive.

Throughout the year, Festival folks have been working to continue offering the world-class performers and instructors that our friends and fans have come to expect for over a decade. Volunteers are in full swing to help at venues and box office, provide transport, and feed performers. Many have even offered to host and lodge our guests. Many summer retail business and restaurants will stay open to accommodate visiting guests.

The UpTop ghost town will come alive with music, song, and spontaneous dance for the Thursday opening day noon session and picnic in the old saloon and dance hall. Guests will stroll across the dirt road to the charming old chapel that is still in use and the 1877 depot that was once home to the world’s highest railroad where tourist came to ride “Railroad Above the Clouds.” Now a little museum, you can read about and see photos of the railroads special guests, including Chief Ouray and his wife Chipeta who went over the pass on their way to Washington D.C. to negotiate a peace treaty.

Later in the afternoon some will travel along “The Highway of Legends” (Hwy 12), past the intriguing volcanic formations that thrust outward from the West Spanish Peaks, to the mountain town of Cuchara. There you can have a gulp of fresh air along with your favorite beverage and listen to some legends in Celtic music sing their favorite pub songs and tell funny stories at the eclectic Dog Bar. Imagine the surprise of unsuspecting tourists who stop in for a quiet afternoon lunch! Thursday evening, rural Gardner offers the tradition of “The Taste of Things to Come” at the Town Hall. Performers give a taste of some of the best music around while locals give them a taste of some the best down home cookin’ around.

The popular Friday and Saturday night concerts in Walsenburg will be on everyone’s list of things to do. The one-time famous coal mining town has a number of pre-concert dining options for all budgets. Come in early on Friday and enjoy the free street fest!

La Veta is the Festival hub and the site of most workshops, demonstrations, day concerts and night sessions. The cozy town at the foot of Spanish Peaks is so mellow the local deer come into town and hang out on lawns without a worry. Take a tip from them and relax and just enjoy the magic of the area and some simple good times. Thank you all for coming and keeping Traditions Alive!

All the best,
Pat McCullough, Festival Artistic Director

2018 Featured Performers

Moya Brennan and Cormac de Barra

“I think Máire has one of the greatest voices the human ear has ever experienced.”Bono (1985)

 Affinity aptly describes the duo’s shared appetite for harmony-driven, rhythmically complex set-pieces as they mine both traditional and contemporary veins in pursuit of fresh perspectives.” – Irish Times (June 21,2013)

Heron Valley

I was particularly impressed by the structure of their set, building up the energy incrementally in a series of waves, taking the audience along with them every step of the way.” Johnny Walley 4 August, 2016 Folk Radio

 Regarding their debut album, “Roam,” “The instrumentation available allows for a lot of variation in the sets, and the band’s love of what it is doing is patently clear in the crisp, fresh arrangements….If this is what they’re sounding like now, then the future can only hold great things for them.” From Gordon Potter of The Living Tradition

From Lúnasa:

Patrick Doocey, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Crawford

From, and other sources – “An All-Ireland winning multi-instrumentalist, Patrick Doocey is quickly becoming one of the most in demand accompanists on the Irish music scene today. Predominately self taught on guitar, Patrick’s exciting style on both nylon and steel string guitar combines influences from many genres.” “He has toured all over Europe, Asia, Africa and America and current performs regularly with top band Lúnasa and Ragús.”

From New York Irish Arts – March 11, 2012, on Kevin Crawford’s album, “Carrying the Tune.”“There are ornaments so fast and fluid they sound like a bird whistling in tune, and the transition between tunes in a set seems so smooth you can only picture Kevin turning purple as he keeps playing without breathing. ”

Dylan Foley

From Paul Keating (2014, – On Foley’s winning the title of Senior All-Ireland champion, along with his work with The Yanks, and the release of his solo CD HUP,  “(has)...already established Foley as a force to be reckoned with in the Irish music scene in America.”

Patsy O’Brien

“Patsy O’Brien’s songs are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, but always delivered with a strong sense of style and energy.” FREETIME NY

Joanna Hyde

“Joanna’s fiddle work can be blazing, but is always beautifully controlled and tasteful. She is a fiddle star already…”  Chicago Irish American News

Dave Curley

A talented multi instrumentalist and much requested singer, Dave Curley has become a force in the Irish music scene. Whether the guitar, mandolin, banjo or bodhrán, he plays with masterful finesse….His style is seductive….Oh, did I mention, he is a terrific Irish dancer, too…!” Maryann McTeague Keifer – Ireland Tonight Host at WDCB Public Radio

Tadhg Ó Meachair

“Tadhg, from Dublin, is an All-Ireland champion piano player and has been touring the globe with the award-winning Irish group, Goitse. He is renowned for his ability create dynamic and invigorating arrangements for both traditional and newly composed music.” TradConnect December 21, 2017

Take Down the Door

Máirtín de Cógáin

“Cork’s Máirtín de Cógáin is a seanachie, and there ain’t many left. He is a wonderful, total entertainer. Bigtime new talent! “- Bill Margeson from

Robbie O’Connell

The Boston Globe describes Robbie O’Connell as “a writer of timeless-sounding, emotionally powerful and often hilarious songs” and places him “among the most respected guitarists, singer and songwriters in Celtic music.”

At the 2010 Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival – Uptop

Ed Miller

His humor and warmth matches his knowledge of Scottish folk music.  But even more impressive to me is the love for song that he expresses in his singing.  He honors every tune, seemingly caressing each in its turn.”
Jonathan James – Spanish Peaks Celtic Music Festival

Tanya Kay Perkins

2016 Festival Memories

The High Kings with the Walsenburg High School Choral Singers ~ 2016

“We are rarely rendered speechless by our experiences on the road but yesterday was one of them! For the last few weeks these HS kids have been rehearsing ‘Schooldays Over’, ‘Goodnight Irene’ and ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ and yesterday we finally got to sing them together. Ladies & Gentlemen, the Walsenburg High School Choral Singers!! After we took this photo we performed these songs live together in front of an audience, including the WORLD EXCLUSIVE first-ever performance of ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’ Take a bow boys and girls, each and every one of you were amazing!! #proud — in Walsenburg, Colorado.”

~The High Kings

The High Kings with the Walsenburg High School Choral Singers ~ 2016

“I’m hoping you will forward this message to all the Board and the Volunteers who made our weekend so great! We loved it, working with the HS kids in Walsenburg was a highlight, as was the show on Saturday, and then those special talks and performances on Sunday! Thanks to all for your very kind hospitality, we will never forget it.”

~Paddy McPoland
Tour Manager
The High Kings
Dublin, Ireland

Defining the Festival

The Spanish Peaks Celtic Festival is designed as an intimate four-day gathering led by renowned guest artists, teachers, and scholars from Celtic countries abroad, Canada, and the United States. The Festival offers over 60 different events, including major concerts; two singing programs; instrumental workshops and master classes; a series of demonstration talks and performances on aspects of Celtic music, history, and folklore; a Celtic Harp Retreat; a newly established Piping Retreat; and sprinkled throughout are ceilidhs/ceilis and playing sessions where anyone can freely join in or enjoy as an audience. Finally, the friendly ambiance and spontaneous interplay between artists and participants spark the exciting sharing of music, ideas, and knowledge, all reflected gifts from the fullness of a rich Celtic experience.

We thank you for coming and sharing this experience with us.

The Festival Board

We invite you to embrace music that reflects the rousing spirit of Celts past and present, whose songs haunt us with their pure beauty or make us laugh with their bold humor, and whose tunes, be they deeply rooted or newly composed, are as delicate as the lilt of a flute on the air or as explosive and exciting as the jigs and reels that fly from a fiddler’s bow, lifting your feet right off the ground –music as compelling today as it was a hundred years ago.