A four-day festival is taking place in Nashville ahead of St Patrick's Day in March, with a jam-packed calendar of music, food, and fun... without a green beer in sight.

Musicians perform to a crowd in Nashville on St Patrick's Day
Music City Irish Fest is a four-day festival taking place in Nashville ahead of St Patrick's Day ©Music City Irish Fest

Music City Irish Fest is a celebration of all things Ireland in Nashville. That means great music, food, storytelling, and whiskey, with a splash of southern hospitality. Taking place from Saturday, 14 March until Tuesday, 17 March (St Patrick's Day) in Bicentennial Capitol Mall, it offers a range of packages and special events for guests over four days. 

A pipe band puts on a street performance
Traditional Irish music and dance is at the heart of the festival ©Music City Irish Fest

The festival's aim is to connect Irish music and culture to Nashville, places that already share musical roots through bluegrass and country; not to mention Nashville's ties to its sister city Belfast. Festival founder Brenda Willis, who is from Nashville but has Irish roots, regularly travels to Ireland with her 12 children - who are all Irish musicians and dancers - to take part in traditional music celebrations like the Fleadh Cheoil and Trad Fest. It's here where Brenda also scouts talent for the festival.

Traditional Irish musicians perform to a crowd at an open-air venue
Irish and local musicians are on the bill ©Music City Irish Fest

"I'm very keen to keep the authenticity in the event," Brenda told Lonely Planet. "I scout my talent through Trad Fest... we have authentic vendors, authentic food and drink, no green food colouring."

The first Music City Irish Fest took place in 2015 but this year it's moving to a larger venue under a new production team, King Hospitality, the same people behind Nashville's Oktoberfest. Over four days, guests can sign up to events like the Shamrock and Champagne Brunch, Emerald Isle Whiskey Dinner and see live local and Irish acts including Aoife Scott, Kirwan, Jessica Willis Fisher, Talisk, Shane Hennessy and more.

A man with a red beard takes part in St Patrick's Day celebrations in Nashville
It's a family-friendly event with something for all ages ©Music City Irish Fest

"It's really neat to do collaborations with Nashville artists because they all have some sort of Irish ties and they really appreciate the connection back to their Irish roots," said Brenda. 

General admission is free for the family-friendly event. A single day VIP pass is $99 (€90). For more information, see here.

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