The countdown has begun for the annual Dublin Irish Festival , taking place July 31-Aug. 2. If you've always wanted to go to Ireland but didn't have the funds or time to make that trip, this is the place to be!

First, there are numerous culture exhibits throughout the weekend. Reenactors will share what it was like to live in 10th century Ireland - everything from how they made their food to how they fought in battles. You can also participate in hands-on activities and crafts, some of which are taught by nationally and internationally known artists.

I normally end up enjoying some great music or dance performances at one of the seven stages, and having fish and chips from Old Bag of Nails. Of course, a cold cup of beer is a must and Coors brewed a special beer in honor of the event - the Dublin Irish Festival Stout .

This year, I plan on trying something new by watching some traditional Celtic sports like caber toss and stone throw. It's amazing how strong the men are. And who would have thought sheep herding was a sport?

Tickets are on sale now and you'll save a dollar if you purchase yours online by July 30. For more details, including a planning tool you can use to schedule your whole weekend, visit .