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Tartan Day festival weaves a rich tapestry of Celtic culture

This free event returns to Boulder County Fairgrounds April 8 to 9

For nearly two decades, the second weekend in April has been dedicated to celebrating Colorado’s rich Celtic history.

Tartan Day’s two-day festival returns for its 7th year at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, April 8 to 9.

The celebration coincides with the national and international recognition of Tartan Day every April 6. The tartan itself is more than a simple fabric; it weaves together history and tradition from Scottish, Irish and Welsh settlers to the Colorado area.

“Back in Scotland, it became a way for people to represent their family and to separate it from the other families,” said Nancy Bigley, secretary of the Tartan Day council. “The tartan for everybody represents the land they were on. It also represents the personality of the clan.”

The two-day festival typically draws 3,000 people from all backgrounds; from those of Celtic descent to those looking to learn more about their heritage, or families looking to have some weekend fun.

Tartan Day is the only Scottish-Irish festival that’s free for everyone, which brings in a variety of people from all different cultures.

Over 40 Celtic clans will be represented at the festival, from the Campbells to the Donnachaidhs to the Johnstones.

“Once you step through the entrance, we hope you’re engrossed with all the clans so that you have a really fun day understanding and finding out about Scottish, Irish, Welsh and we even have a few Brits there,” Bigley said.

With a historian under each tent, anyone can learn more about their ancestry. The festival also hosts various vendors at the fairgrounds, from potters and artists, to jewellery, food, The Renaissance Scots Living History Village, and Celtic rock and folk music from Angus Mohr and Gobs O’Phun.

The state of Colorado has its own official state tartan, registered in March 1997. It includes several nods to the state, from the lavender of the official state flower, to the white of the mountain peaks, to the state’s signature sandstone soil.

To the naked eye, a tartan pattern may just look like a few stripes of woven thread, but you can tell a lot about someone’s history just from a kilt, skirt or scarf. People come together to showcase their clan’s tartans at Tartan Day every year, but it’s really about building a kinship over Scottish, Irish or Welsh history.

Even if you’re not from Celtic lineage, there’s a lot to learn and appreciate about Celtic culture. Something the Tartan Day organizers are hoping attendees will walk away with come April 8 and 9.

“I enjoy the community that is developed by understanding all the different things of the different clans,” Bigley said. “Everybody is really open to everyone coming and learning about it. And I never see anybody not having a smile on their face.”

The Tartan Day Festival takes place April 8 and 9 at the Boulder Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont. Admission is free all weekend long and all are welcome to attend.

To find out more, visit or visit the Tartan Day Facebook page.