By Kim McNeill

With a name like “McNeill”, you can bet that I have seen Riverdance more than a few times. Like St. Patrick’s Day, Irish Step Dancing has transcended cultural bounds and has become a cross-cultural phenomenon.With the intricate footwork, elaborate costuming, and upbeat tempo and music, Irish Dance is a treat for the senses. The two best ways to see Irish Dancing are to head to competitions and Irish Festivals.

Luckily, in Connecticut, we have a number of fine festivals to enjoy the hard work of those performing Irish Step Dancing.

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The Connecticut Irish Festival and Dance Competition
300 Washington Ave
North Haven, CT 06473
(203) 469-3080
Date: June 2012
Admission: Tickets generally run about $10 per person.

This 50 year-old Irish Festival in North Haven has expanded many times over the years. In 1966 Irish Dancing competitions were added. Taking place in June, the festival spans two days and includes many Irish cultural traditions such as music, language, and dancing.

Quassy Amusement Park Irish Dance Competition
2132 Middlebury Road (Rt. 64)
Middlebury, CT 06762
(203) 758-2913
Admission: Competition is included in the price of park admission.

For 16 years Quassy Amusement Park has held an Irish Dance Competition that draws hundreds of from New England. Enjoy Irish Dancing and a weekend of amusement park fun. Quassy added an award winning wooden roller coaster that is also a worth checking out once the competition has finished for the day.

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The Greater Hartford Irish Music Festival
132 Commerce St
Glastonbury, CT 06033
(860) 633- 9691
Date: July 2012

The Greater Hartford Irish Music Festival in Glastonbury is one of the biggest Irish Music Festivals around. And where there is Irish music, there is Irish Dancing. Along with Step Dancing demonstrations, this festival offers set and ceili dancing. Set and ceili dances are complicated group dances like reels that involve partnering, separating, and then dancing with other members of the group based on certain moves.

Lord of the Dance at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT 06382
(888) 226- 7711
Date: May 9th 2012 at 4:00 p.m.

While watching locals perform is always gratifying, nothing can beat the spectacle of a fully produced theater extravaganza. That is no doubt what you will see if you choose to attend Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance Troupe 2 when it comes to Mohegan Sun on April 7th.

CT Shoreline Championship Feis
Westbrook High School
156 McVeagh Rd
Westbrook, CT 06498
(203) 270- 7001
Date: March 31st 2012

Taking place in Westbrook, CT, near the Sound, enjoy an Irish Dance competition. This is the first of a series of competitions starting in the spring in Connecticut. The Gray Foundation, which provides scholarships for Irish Dancers, sponsors this competition. The date of the competition is March 31st.

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Lenihan School Feis (Irish Dance Competition)
Stratford High School
45 N Parade Street
Stratford, CT 06615
(203) 261- 6656
Date: April 1st 2012

Make a weekend of your love for Irish Dance by attending the Lenihan School Feis, or competition, on April 1st. Taking place in Stratford High School, enjoy talented youth as they compete.

Kim McNeill writes at Nutmeg Families, is a publisher with Macaroni Kid of Southbury, Middlebury, Roxbury, Bridgewater, and Oxford, Connecticut, a hyper-local community website for families, and also blogs about more Connecticut family fun at Hearst Connecticut Media Group.