Every September at Coney Island you can indulge in some Irish dancing, food, singing, and Irish cultural pride at the annual Great Irish Fair of New York. One of the best attended cultural events in the city, the GIF (as it is called) is a day filled with the colors, sounds, and flavors of Ireland. Attracting hundreds of thousands of people, this festival is a wonderful way for people of all ages to spend a Saturday.
The 36th annual event is Saturday, September 16, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Ford Amphitheater on the Coney Island Boardwalk (3052 W 21st St., Brooklyn, NY).
Officially called the Great Irish Fair of New York, the event was the brainchild of the Brooklyn Chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (”AOH”) in 1992, with the goal of celebrating Irish culture and heritage. In 2007 the event management shifted to the Irish American Building Society Charities, Inc. (”IABSC”), a registered not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to carry on the great Irish American tradition of giving.
Activities and Entertainment
The Great Irish Fair of New York is a family-friendly event that includes a 5K run on the Riegelmann Boardwalk on Coney Island, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean (you can wave at Ireland from there!). Musicians and bands will be playing everything from bagpipes and traditional Irish ballads to dancing music and contemporary Irish tunes. Groups to perform in 2017 include Unforgettable Fire, The Canny Brothers, Derek Warfield and the Young Wolf Tones, John Nolan, The Brooklyn Bards, and Andy Cooney. Performances also include traditional Irish dancing.
For the kids, there are rides and games, along with hands-on participatory fun like face painting and magic shows in a special little Irish fairground area.
Food and Drink
There will be no shortage of Irish refreshments with plenty of beer, of course, plus classic Irish food. Past vendors have included Buckley's Restaurant, Peggy O'Neills, as well as stands featuring Polish kielbasa, seafood, and pizza.
If you are in the mood to acquire some items representing the Emerald Isle, you can pick up some Irish themed jewelry, clothing, and household items at the various vendor booths. (This is great for Brooklynites, given that there are no full-time Irish-import stores left in the borough.)
Tickets are $20 general admission and $45 for VIP. Children under 14 years of age are free. You can purchase tickets through Ticketmaster. The website promises that "100% of all net proceeds derived from the GIF will be donated to a charitable fund for the benefit of Brooklyn and Queens Diocesan Catholic Elementary Schools."