This post is written by Mary Szymkowiak, Communications and Group Tour Specialist for the Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau. You can follow Mary on Twitter at @MaryS_DublinCVB.

Hear that? That rumbling vibration is the thundering feet of hundreds of Irish dancers warming up for the Dublin Irish Festival (August 3-5) —the party 25 years in the making! What began in 1988 as a group of parents illuminating a small spot in Coffman Park with their car headlights to watch their kids practice Irish jigs, has become one of the largest Irish Festivals on the planet—and it just keeps getting better every year.

The 2012 Dublin Irish Festival (called DIF by fans and locals) will host an estimated 100,000 visitors over its three-day run. It has been named a “Top 100 Event in North America” (2005 & 2009) by the American Bus Association and was recently dubbed the 2012 Best Heritage Festival by Columbus Parent Magazine, 2012 Best Festival by Columbus Monthly, and tied for first place as the 2012 Best Festival by Columbus Business First. Set on 29 rolling acres in Coffman Park, the event features seven stages of non-stop Irish music and dance, 65 acts and more than 535 performers—including some of the biggest names in Irish entertainment. (On the top of my personal list of “must-see” performers are: Atlantic Steps, Willis Clan, Eileen Ivers, Gaelic Storm and The Prodigals.)

Dublin Irish Festival

As a longtime Dublin girl (and DIF fan/volunteer), I always tell people that DIF is a different experience depending on what time/day you visit. (Hint: buy the online weekend pass to save money—and because you can’t get one at the gate). Warm-up events start with the IGS Energy/Dublin Irish Festival 5K and the Dub Crawl at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2 in Historic Dublin. Shops, restaurants and pubs will be lively with street-side music and dance to celebrate the start of the Festival. DIF Academy offers a “warm-up” to the Festival with small classes in Irish music and culture. Classes are offered between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Friday, August 3. Registration is limited.

Dublin Irish Festival

#DIF25 (the event’s official hashtag for twitter and other social media officially begins at 4 p.m., Friday, Aug. 3. In addition to the music and dance, visitors can experience Irish history and culture, learn to play a bodhrán or penny whistle, savor beer and wine tastings, get up close to Celtic Canines and Bog Ponies, shop the Marketplace, experience an Irish Wake (1890s style), attend a Sunday morning church service and get a rare glimpse at Celtic athletic events during the Highland Heavyweight Games. (Men and women in kilts!) Kids love the Wendy’s Wee Folk area with free crafts, activities and entertainment for the wee ones—as well as the Pot O’ Gold Playland with inflatables, mini-Gaelic games and a climbing wall.

Dublin Irish Festival

New this year is The International Highland Games Federation Women’s World Team Championships at the Tansky Sawmill Toyota Greenfields Sports Area (Sun., Aug. 5), an Irish Authors’ Corner featuring six Irish-American authors and an American Celtic Art Exhibit.

Best of all, tickets are a steal: $10 per ticket per day; with children under age 12 admitted free. Guests can also save a little green and experience the Festival for free by donating a non-perishable food item benefiting the Dublin Food Pantry and arriving before 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5.

Dublin Irish Festival

Dublin offers 14 hotels near the Festival grounds. The Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Dublin Irish Festival Sunday Getaway package—offers half-price tickets (Sunday only) and discounted rates at a choice of six Dublin hotels, with option to purchase discounted Columbus Zoo tickets. (http://www.irishisanattitude.com/irish-festival-hotel-packages.html) Parking is free and plentiful. To learn more, visit www.DublinIrishFestival.org or www.irishisanattitude.com