It's only a matter of hours before admission gates are opened and people begin pouring into Coffman Park for the 21st annual Dublin Irish Festival.

It's only a matter of hours before admission gates are opened and people begin pouring into Coffman Park for the 21st annual Dublin Irish Festival.

The festival is expected to draw more than 100,000 people to the 27-acre site for music, games, art, shopping, dancing and food.

The festival will be held from 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at Coffman Park, 5600 Post Road.

While the festival officially starts Friday, festivities get under way Thursday night with the Dub Crawl and four-miler, beginning at 5 p.m. in the BriHi District. The crawl is a way for people to gear up for the weekend-long celebration, said community relations specialist Mary Jo DiSalvo.

Eateries, bars and shops in Historic Dublin will extend hours for the event, which features entertainers on the streets and on stages in many of the district's restaurants.

The ceremonial tapping of the Dublin Irish Festival stout will be held at 5:30 p.m. at Brazenhead, 56 N. High St. The stout will be available at bars and restaurants in the area, and at the Irish festival.

"But once it's gone, it's gone till next year," said director of community relations Sandra Puskarcik.

More than 700 runners will hit the pavement at 7 p.m. for the Dublin Irish Festival Four Miler, formerly a 5K. People can register the day of the race for $35.

Once the festival gates open at 4 p.m. Friday, the fun continues with traditional Irish exhibits like the Celtic Canines, Irish wake demonstrations, whiskey snug, stone carving and a genealogy tent to trace your family roots.

"There's something for everyone from our wee folk area to our teen area," DiSalvo said.

Countless souvenirs will be for sale, but those looking for more authentic Irish offerings can head to the Emerald Arts Isle.

Those interested in sports can head to the open field for events including hurling, darts, cornhole and sheep herding. People can get in the game or sit back and enjoy. Gaelic football and hurling tournaments will feature clubs from cities throughout the U.S.

Bands appearing at the festival create a musical lineup for all tastes.

Festival favorites including Gaelic Storm, Prodigals, Brigid's Cross and Makem and Spain Brothers will return, but new groups should capture people's attention, Puskarcik said.

At 6:30 p.m. Friday, Robbie O'Connell, Aoife Clancy and Kevin Evans will be joined by local musicians Hilda Doyle and Sue Mogan for the first singer/songwriter music circle at the music workshop tent.

"They're very in tune to the roots of the music, which is nice because it teaches people the roots of the song, why it was written and the inspiration," Puskarcik said.

The StepCrew will perform each day on the Dublin stage throughout the festival. "This Celtic-inspired dance production features the world's top talents in Irish, Ottawa Valley and modern tap dancing," Puskarcik said.

Vishten, a group of musicians who created their own style of music by mixing Acadian, Irish and Scottish music style, is new to this year's lineup. The group will play Friday and Saturday on the Dublin stage.

The finale at 8:15 p.m. Sunday on the Dublin stage features performances by musicians from the weekend, led by New Orleans native Beth Patterson.

"It shouldn't be missed," Puskarcik said. "The finale is always amazing and Beth is an entertainer as well as a talented musician. She keeps the audience engaged."

For more information about the festival, go to