Boston Celtic Music Festival

It's BCMFest's 15th Anniversary!
January 18-21, 2018

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ANNOUNCING... Our 2018 Schedule!


It's BCMFest's 15th Anniversary!
January 18-21, 2018


Big Changes for BCMFest No. 15

Extra days, new venue added for 2018

BCMFest (Boston Celtic Music Festival), the annual showcase for Celtic music and dance in Greater Boston, will mark its 15th year with a flourish. The Harvard Square-based, all-ages festival will expand to four days when it takes place January 18-21, 2018, and introduce a new venue as part of its programming: The Sinclair, one of Cambridge’s most popular nightspots.

These and other changes will bring a fresh energy to BCMFest as it continues its mission of celebrating the variety of music, song and dance from Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton and other Celtic-related traditions found in the Greater Boston area.

BCMFest 2018 will be centered around Club Passim (47 Palmer St.), the renowned Harvard Square listening room, with evening concerts on January 18 and 19, a marathon “Dayfest” on January 20 and, on January 21, a final slate of performances at Club Passim as well as The Sinclair (52 Church St.) – the latter hosting BCMFest Nightcap, the festival’s traditional closing event.

One of BCMFest’s most popular features, the Boston Urban Ceilidh, will take place as usual on Friday night of the festival, and during the weekend there will be participatory sessions and events at The Sinclair and nearby locations.

BCMFest is a program of Passim, a Cambridge-based non-profit seeking to build a vibrant music community through Club Passim, music school, artist grants and outreach initiatives. 

A look at some highlights of BCMFest 2018:

•The festival will kick off on Thursday, January 18, with the Emerging Artists Showcase, spotlighting the young performers and new or recently established acts that continually revitalize Celtic music.

•Friday, January 19, will be the Roots and Branches Concert, offering a sample of the innovative, dynamic sounds and different styles to be heard in Boston’s Celtic music community.

*The Boston Urban Ceilidh – which will be held on Friday at The Atrium (50 Church St.) – features social dances from Celtic traditions, all with live music. No experience is necessary and all dances will be taught.

•BCMFest's Saturday Dayfest will offer some 12-plus hours of entertainment, from mid-morning to the evening, presenting all manner of Celtic music, from classic traditional to more contemporary sounds.

•This year, BCMFest will introduce the Festival Club on Saturday, with late-night performances that provide festival artists the opportunity to engage in special collaborations and push the envelope.  

•The festival also will roll out a BCMFest Brunch on Sunday at Club Passim – enjoy some fine food in a relaxed live Celtic music atmosphere.

•The first-ever Sunday Dayfest will pick up where Saturday Dayfest left off: more sounds and styles from Boston’s Celtic music scene.

•For those festival-goers who want to do more than watch or listen, there will be music sessions during Saturday Dayfest and again on Sunday at The Sinclair and nearby venues. Sing-alongs and participatory dancing also will be on the schedule.

•Festival performers will lead workshops at The BCMFest Academy on Saturday and Sunday in Passim’s main offices (126 Church Street).  

•For the finishing touch, the BCMFest Nightcap concert will pull together festival performers and special guests for an extravaganza that attests to the special qualities of Celtic music and dance in Boston.

This new vision for the festival, according to organizers, “will enhance the BCMFest experience for performers and audiences alike while retaining the character of BCMFest as a grassroots, community event for Celtic music lovers of all generations.”

Ticket and schedule information, as well as updates on performers and other festival events and activities, will be posted mid-November here on the BCMFest website (



A note from the festival's founders

BCMFest is celebrating 15 years, and we’re making some exciting changes to improve audience and performer experiences. What remains is our initial passion for bringing Irish, Cape Breton, and Scottish communities together.
Growing up with traditional music, we know how much each tradition is distinct. We also know that we all really value community, inclusivity, and the pursuit of knowledge. We are proud and inspired by the high level of music that is happening in Boston’s trad music communities.
Because we often collaborate and grow from those collaborations, we wondered what would happen if we provided a space where our communities could come together and find cross-genre connections. We also wanted to let greater Boston music lovers in on the secret of the underground trad scene.
AND we wanted to work with important venues in our community, who are already making these important connections. Above all, Passim has held our hand throughout.
Over the last 15 years, we have seen an overwhelming show of support and care. The Boston traditional music community has embraced our initial vision. And with the stewardship of Ellery Klein, Emily Luce, Michael Boyle, Susie Petrov, Sean Smith, Leanne McNally, Rachel Reeds, Mariel Vandersteel, Club Passim, the Folk Arts Center, and so many invaluable volunteers—and a LOT of late nights and pizza boxes—BCMFest has given a stage for performers who have come of age through our festival, and have launched their own careers. 
We are incredibly honored and excited to watch this festival as it continues to grow for the next 15 years.



Thanks to all who attended!







Listen to Passim's executive director Jim Wooster talk about BCMFest in a recent appearance on Cambridge Community Television (CCTV)






BCMFest was born after Laura Cortese (Scottish fiddle) and Shannon Heaton (Irish flute) realized that recently they had seen many great, traditional Celtic music acts playing it the area; they thought it would be exciting if more of the Boston-area trad players worked with local folk music venues like Club Passim, the Burren, Johnny D’s, and the Canadian American Club. Soon after their talk, Laura and Shannon began planning a weekend-long showcase of local traditional talent—a Boston Celtic Music Fest to celebrate the rich, diverse pool of traditional music and dance in the Boston area.

The festival has become a hub for generating ideas, energy, and community support for local, traditional Celtic music and dance performers. In 2011, BCMFest became an official program of Passim. Today, in addition to the annual festival in January, audiences and artists can enjoy monthly concerts at Club Passim that feature a broad selection of Boston-based Celtic music and dance acts.

Our committee and artists are out to make this year's BCMFest stronger than ever, with a renewed vision for the future. By presenting touring professionals, tradition-bearers, and young performers, the festival offers a variety of music not found anywhere else. The list of performers and fans involved in the festival continues to grow, a sign that BCMFest is a vital addition to the Boston music community.