The New England Regional Oireachtas – one of the biggest Irish dance competitions held on the east coast – will begin next week, starting on Friday the 16th in Providence, Rhode Island. For those of you who don’t speak Irish Step Dance, “Oireachtas” (translated from Gaelic) means a “large gathering,” but in this case, the word Oireachtas means a very large, annual championship competition (this will be the 37th.) The New England Oireachtas is one of seven North American qualifying competitions for the World Championship, which is called, in Gaelic, Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne (Irish Dance Championship of the World.)
Usually divided by age and gender, the dancers will compete all weekend for a chance to qualify. They’ll be performing a variety of different steps, including Slip Jigs, Reels, Hornpipes, and a traditional set dance called St. Patrick’s Day. The Oireachtas is a great way to spend the day; there are several ballrooms in the hotel in which the dancers will be performing, and if you ever feel like taking a break from watching them, dozens of vendors are set up just outside the rooms (they will be selling Celtic jewelry, music, and all types of Irish dance accessories.) Even for those who don’t know anything about Irish dance, it’s definitely a really fun way to spend the day!