September 04, 2022
Visitors down the shore can ring in the start of fall at a four-day event that celebrates Irish culture.
The 31st annual Irish Fall Festival, the largest Irish festival on the East Coast, takes place in Wildwood Thursday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 25.
Festival goers can expect four days worth of entertaining events commemorating Irish heritage. Given that about 1.26 million people, or 14 percent of the population, in New Jersey have listed Irish as their first or second biggest bloodline, there should be many people ready to celebrate (or pretend they're Irish) during the weekend.
The event is sponsored by James J. Reilly, Division 1, Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH). The AOH organization fosters and preserves Irish heritage.
Festivities kick off on Thursday, Sept. 22, with a golf tournament at Cape May National Golf Course, located at Route 9 and Fairway Drive in Cape May. It costs $120 to enter, which includes green fee, cart, dinner, refreshments and prizes. Interested golfers can call the AOH at 800-474-7491 to enter.
Friday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 25, vendors with Irish merchandise and treats will line Olde New Jersey Avenue in North Wildwood daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The party gets going Friday and Saturday with free live Irish entertainment on the main stage at Chestnut and Olde New Jersey Avenue from noon to 8:30 p.m. There will also be music in the pubs and taverns in the area. Performers are slated to include Broken Shillelaghs, Birmingham 6, Timmy Kelly, Brothers McGillian, and more. Visitors will also get to enjoy performances by Irish Schools of Dance throughout both days.
Saturday will also feature a 5K run and one-mile family walk at 8 a.m. Registration will take place at the AOH tent between 1st and 2nd avenues on Olde New Jersey Avenue the day of the event. Interested participants can also pre-register online.
Entertainment at Bill Henfey Park (8th and Central avenues) will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. with the Brian Riley Pipe Exhibition, featuring some of the top pipe bands in the East. Free Irish dance lessons will be given from 10 a.m. until noon at the Elks Lodge on West Jersey Avenue.
Wrapping up the weekend, on Sunday there will be a 10:30 a.m. Irish heritage mass at Saint Ann's Roman Catholic Church, on Glenwood and Atlantic avenues. A parade full of bag pipe bands and dance groups will follow the mass, beginning at 12:30 p.m. from 20th and Surf avenues, continuing to Spruce and Olde New Jersey avenues.