Grass Valley Magic: Mondo Celtic Festival

Grab your fiddle for a large-scale jam or peruse the goodie-filled marketplace.

A SOLELY CELTIC SOUNDFEST... can be a tricky thing to find. Oh, they're out there, and brimming with beautiful tunes and merry music-makery, for sure, but a fan of the genre very often has to catch it on the tail end, or to the side, of a larger festival. That's a-ok, of course, since a larger festival can lead a tune-loving fan to new music loves, but wanting to dig in to the Celtic vibe, complete with stars of the form, a chance to jam on your own instrument, and a magical marketplace, doesn't come around all that often. It has, however, been coming around for nearly two decades, in Grass Valley, in the fall, at the KVMR Celtic Festival. Spread out over three days at the start of October -- that's Oct. 2, 3, and 4 in 2015, a Friday through Sunday -- the festival happily jigs through a series of string-plucking to-dos. Many of those tuneful to-dos occur on the quintet of stages set up just for the soundsmiths who are on the bill, artists like The Screaming Orphans and Halfpence & Haypenny and Looney's Fortune. There are demo stages, too, places where lovers of craft and dance can sharpen their skills or begin a new pursuit. And the marketplace is packed with Celtic goods, items like textiles and bracelets and headwear and candies (think toffee and other sweets with ye olde cred). 

HAPPY JAMMING... is one of the big focuses for many regular attendees. "Bring your instruments!" suggest the organizers, and people absolutely do. The Pine Tree Stage is the setting for many a jam, and if you see a headliner in the musical midst, do not be surprised; this is part of the tight-knit, community-cool scene. 

AS FAR AS MAKING LODGING ARRANGEMENTS... or thinking ahead to camping? That should be done long ahead of autumn's first moon. A hugely popular Celtic gathering like this one does possess some enchantment, but depending on that enchantment to score you a last-minute ticket is not the path to take. Every adventurer knows a little pre-planning assists the growing of enchantments down the road. (In short, buy that ticket and let the magic unfold while you're there.)

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