MISSION: The mission of Celtic Cultural Alliance is to preserve and promote the Celtic culture, through education, musical presentations, and traditional competitions in athletics, piping and dance.
HISTORY: On Columbus Day weekend in 1988, the first Celtic Classic was presented by a small group of individuals, organized as Celtic Fest, Inc. The goal of this dedicated group was to create an event that symbolized the Celtic spirit and history, and to provide the impetus for an organization that focused on promoting the Celtic culture. This organization has now evolved into Celtic Cultural Alliance to better communicate the overall goals of the organization.
The first Celtic Classic, in Historic Downtown Bethlehem, was attended by approximately 30,000 people from Southeastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey who braved snow squalls and an average temperature of 47º. The venues for this inaugural event included the Sun Inn Courtyard and the Community Arts Pavilion, along with the Grand Pavilion and Parade Grounds, which are still a part of this nationally-acclaimed event.
Although the situation looked gloomy for the event, the City of Bethlehem pitched in, committees regrouped, tightened their purse strings, and the event was moved to the last weekend of September, where it has remained since. The Celtic Classic has since blossomed into one of the largest Highland Games and Festival in North America. Annually, over 250,000 visitors come to Historic Bethlehem to join in this celebration of all things Celtic.
In 1992, on the 5th Anniversary of the Celtic Classic, the goals of the organization were fulfilled by expanding into year-round programming. In partnership with Moravian College, a series of lectures were introduced and presented in Foy Hall, on the Moravian College campus. In the years that have followed, the educational programming has expanded to include community outreach events in area school districts, religious institutions, local theaters and colleges throughout the Lehigh Valley. A series of scholarships are awarded each year in varied areas of Celtic culture.
COMMUNITY HISTORY: The first Celtic immigrants, who were of Scottish and Irish descent, arrived in the Lehigh Valley circa 1728 from the northern providence of Ulster. Today the Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Cornish remain a dominant force, comprising nearly 30% of the Lehigh Valley population.
Incorporated in 1986 under the name Celtic Fest, Inc., Celtic Cultural Alliance celebrates the rich traditions of Celtic culture and heritage. Celtic Fest, Inc./dba Celtic Cultural Alliance is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization supported by nearly 1,000 volunteers, its board of directors and staff.