The widely popular Irish Christmas in America show is entering its 12th season and continuing to delight audiences across the nation with Irish music, song and dance. MyNorth entertainment writer Ross Boissoneau tells us more about the Traverse City holiday show.


Irish Christmas in America show

How it Got its Start

Fiddle player Oisín Mac Diarmada, founder of the award-winning Irish group Téada, conceived the holiday show while performing a Christmas show in Germany with a harp orchestra. He thought taking a show on the road that shared Irish customs and songs would be well received. A dozen years later, it appears he was right.

Mac Diarmada says the program is a way to bring traditional, often unknown, Irish customs to the U.S. That includes songs of the season that go beyond the familiar “Rudolph” and “Silent Night”—though the latter is often included as a concluding number, sung in both Irish and English. “One of the most heartfelt themes of Irish Christmas is emigration,” Mac Diarmada says. “Music was a way that people stayed close to home.” Past tours have showcased vocalists such as Séamus Begley (returning this year), Lumiere (Pauline Scanlon & Eilis Kennedy), Karan Casey, Cara Dillon, Cathie Ryan and Michael Londra, and an equal number of instrumentalists. For this year’s version, Mac Diarmada has enlisted Begley on vocals and accordion; Sean Gavin, Uilleann pipes and flute; Samantha Harvey, dance and piano; Niamh Farrell, vocals and flute; Gráinne Hambly, Irish harp and concertina; and Patrick Doocey, guitar. The show includes music and dance, stories of history and humor, and boundless energy.


Celtic jigs, reels, laments and dance

Influences and Inspirations

Téada, Riverdance

Additional Background

“We take a long time celebrating Christmas. It’s a massive holiday in Ireland,” Mac Diarmada told MLive. “It’s very indulgent and goes on for a week. The country shuts down, apart from the bars.” This family-friendly performance features nostalgic Irish ballads, lively instrumental tunes and energetic Irish dancing. The scene is set with evocative photographic images providing a backdrop to some of the rich historical traditions of the Emerald Isle. The corresponding recording, cleverly entitled Irish Christmas in America – the Show, features Mac Diarmada, Hambly on harp and concertina, flutist Damien Stenson, Tristan Rosenstock on bodhrán, Seán McElwain on guitar and bouzouki and Tommy Martin on Uilleann pipes.


“Lively and reflective … a powerful evocation of the season.” – Folk Wax

“Irish Christmas in America admirably refuses to pander to the lowest common denominator. By doing so, they all convey the spirit of the season with uncommon taste and integrity.” – Irish Echo


Milliken Auditorium, Traverse City

Date & Time

November 27, 7 p.m.

Ticket information

Tickets are $27, $24 for museum members, and $30 at the door. Go to


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Photo(s) by Gene Jenneman