Myrtle Beach Goes International at Irish Italian Festival

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The Great American Melting Pot becomes a Grand Strand sand bucket for one day this fall with the 13th Annual Irish Italian International Festival in North Myrtle Beach. Paying tribute to America's unique and diverse heritage, the Sept. 24 shindig brings the rich culture, history, art, food and music of Ireland, Italy and the world to our little corner of the coast.

Held along Main Street in the Ocean Drive section of North Myrtle Beach, about 11 miles north of Long Bay Resort in Myrtle Beach, the Irish Italian International Festival provides the perfect venue for a fall family getaway for the day. Featuring activities of interest for all ages and cultures, the event is expected to draw more than 15,000 visitors to the downtown district for lots of great food, music, shopping and kid-friendly fun on a beautiful fall Saturday on the Carolina coast.

The one-day festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and packs a world of action into a six-hour window. The festival kicks off with live entertainment on two different stages — the Irish stage, which is located on the west end of Main Street beside Flynn's Irish Tavern, and the Italian stage, which is situated in front of Hope Taylor & Co. on the ocean end of Main Street. The musical lineup includes Irish- and Italian-themed acts, of course, but also features rock, pop, soul and beach music.

The Irish stage opens at 10 a.m. with a performance by the Academy of Dance and Fine Arts before the opening ceremonies at 10:30 a.m., followed by Band on the Rum at 10:45 and 11:50 a.m., Port City Pipes and Drums from nearby Wilmington, NC, at 11:30 a.m., and headline act Off Kilter, a quirky Irish band that plays traditional Celtic tunes and Americana ballads, at 1 and 2:45 p.m. In between sets, check out the festivities at the popular Irish pub at Flynn's, which has an outdoor patio and an indoor restaurant and bar.

On the Italian stage, Dale Mosher (10 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.) plays around the opening ceremonies (10:30 a.m.), and Larry Tanelli (1 p.m.) performs his style of Italian-inspired music before things get a little sloppy. Claudio's Spaghetti Eating Contest takes place at 2:15 p.m., giving young and old the chance to show off their hands-free, noodle-slurping skills and compete for prizes and bragging rights. Following a brief cleanup of sauce and slobber, Atwater (2:45 p.m.) closes out the show.

In between the two stages, Long Bay guests can find some great shopping opportunities — both in the standing retail stores located along Main Street and in the rows of vendor tents featuring unique arts and crafts — and take home some one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Featuring the work of top artists and craftsmen from all over the East Coast, the vendor tents are often staffed by the same hands that created the wares, giving visitors the chance to pick the brains of the featured painters, sculptors, glassblowers and candle-makers.

For folks with kids in tow, you have come to the right place. The festival’s Kids Zone section features inflatable play equipment, magic acts, street performers, balloon art and more. Let the little ones play while the grown-ups sample some of the delicious fare from local restaurants, ranging from Italian sausages and peppers to corned beef and cabbage. Enjoy cold beer or a glass of wine to wash it down, and take in all the sights and sounds the Irish Italian International Festival has to offer.

Following a fun-filled day in North Myrtle Beach, make the short drive back to Long Bay Resort for a little rest and relaxation. Hit the oceanfront pool deck to soak up some late sun while you soak in the hot tub, and stay with the theme of the day by enjoying the international cuisine at the on-site Martin's Restaurant. It's the perfect way to experience a weekend getaway with international flair on the Grand Strand.