Durango has a special gift for bringing the wonders of history to life. Whether visitors are dining and dancing at a chuckwagon supper, spectating a wild west shootout, or posing for an olde tyme portrait, the feeling is like stepping back in time.

With the first month of spring at our doorstep, we’re reminded just how big of a melting pot Durango truly is.The history of Ireland and St. Patrick’s day inspire festivals, dancing, and a steady flow of Guinness and Jameson. Immerse yourself in Irish culture this March through the Durango Celtic Festival and Irish history train ride, the Shamrock Express. From deep in the mountains of Colorado, we propose a toast to our Celtic brethren.

The Durango Celtic Festival

What is it: A four-day event celebrating the musical and cultural heritage of the Celts. Expect a jam-packed schedule of award-winning bands, entertainment, workshops, dancing, food, and fun. Spanning four venues and featuring performing bands like Supertrad, the Jeremiahs, and Dave Curley, the Durango Celtic Festival brings together some of Ireland’s most reputable artists.

A “full expressive gamut of folk music,” you’ll find a symphony of bagpipes, fiddles, accordions, banjoes, and harmonicas from renowned musicians and expert showmen and women. Enjoy workshops where you can learn about Ceilidh and Irish dances, meet the bands, refine your instrument skills or even practice songwriting. Led by a team with a passion for a good time, you’ll find the rhythm contagious and the dancing irresistible.

When is it: March 7th - 10th, 2019, with performances, workshops, concerts, and jam-sessions held in the afternoon and evening.

Where is it: This multi-venue event is held in the Strater hotel, Henry Strater Theatre, Irish Embassy Pub, and the Underground.

The Henry Strater Theatre is one of the oldest and most impressive auditoriums in Durango. If you’re in town for the festival, staying at the connected Strater is easy and offers discounted lodging for attendees. You’ll stay close to all the action in one of Durango’s most historic hotels.

Just a few blocks away, you’ll find the Irish Embassy with its basement party space, the Underground. Offering fish and chips and traditional Irish ale and music year round, the Irish Embassy is the #1 Irish venue in Durango. The team will be hosting a “Late Night at the Pub” series throughout the Celtic Festival, so show your pass after 9PM for 10% off all food purchases.

How do I get involved? This family-friendly event is open to the public with tickets on sale now. Get in quick as this festival does sell out! For local businesses interested in becoming a sponsor of this grand annual event, you can reach out here.

Tell me about the pricing: You can opt for a single day general pass to all shows at the Henry Strater Theatre or go big with a 3 day VIP reserved seating pass.

  • Thursday Day Pass: $25 per adult/$15 per student
  • Friday or Saturday Day Pass: $39.95 an adult/$25 per student
  • 3-Day VIP pass: Prices range from $99.95 to $660 and may include group pricing. More info here.

Tickets are also available for the workshop series for $25 per adult/$10 per student. The Sunday Ceilidh, a Scottish/Irish folk music tradition, charges $10 per adult/$5 per student and is extremely interactive.

What should I expect: Expect to learn an ton about Irish culture, music, traditions and dancing in a welcoming and fun environment. Let the night take you away and go where the music takes you.

The Shamrock Express

What is it: Don your shamrock green tunics, kilts, and cloaks for a train ride through the mountains of Colorado and Irish history. The Shamrock Express is a once-a-year celebration hosted by the Durango train in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Take your party deep in the mountains to Cascade Canyon, where you’ll enjoy live music, Irish beer, drink specials, and food.

Celtic band, the Kitchen Jam Band, will be playing at the station before departure and through the train cars during the ride. Wear a costume to match the extravagantly decorated train and enjoy the picture-perfect mountain scene. Local brewery BREW has created a special Irish red St. Patrick’s day beer just for the occasion!

The special menu available for pre-order will include a Mile High House Brined Corned Beef sandwich with creamed cabbage kraut, caramelized onions, horseradish cheddar spread, swiss cheese, and sriracha honey Dijon. Pair it with a green apple, sweet potato chips, and a 4 leaf clover sugar cookie to keep in the spirit of the day.

When is it: The Shamrock Express sets off from the station at 9:45 AM, March 17th. This six-hour round trip adventure will get you back on Main Avenue by 3PM, so you have time to enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

Where is it: The train will depart from the Durango Train Depot at 479 Main Avenue. Feel free to arrive early to browse the free Narrow Gauge Museum, before departing deep into the mountains on a route only accessible by foot or train.

How do I get involved: Tickets are available now via the Durango train website. Look for a number of Adventure Packages, which include lodging, activity and food discounts, to make the most of your time with us!

Tell me about the pricing: Choose between the Presidential, First Class, Deluxe, or Standard Box car. For $119 a ticket, you can enjoy the full event from the Prospector, Yankee Girl, or glass-domed Knight Sky boxcar. Standard class is available for $69 per adult/$42 per child.

What should I expect: Expect a vibrant day of Irish fun and partying. Bring a camera to capture all the memories, as well as the costumed antics and alpine scenery. Kick back in your boxcar and settle in for entertainment and luxury. The Luck of the Irish brings nothing but smiles and shenanigans to the southwest.