This post is written by Mary Szymkowiak, for the Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau. You can find Mary on Twitter @MaryS_DublinCVB .

As a longtime Dublin girl (and Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau staffer ), I love all-things-Irish. So, my anticipation grows exponentially every year as we approach the Dublin Irish Festival —a magical central Ohio event, TWICE named a “Top 100 Event in North America.”

The 24th anniversary of the Dublin Irish Festival (Aug. 5-7), or “DIF” as fans call it, will be an amazing celebration of Irish music, culture, food and fun that comes with the tagline: Like Ireland, except smaller. Set on 29 beautiful acres of Coffman Park, DIF features many of the world’s top Irish bands. Best of all, you don’t have to be Irish to attend!

As a diehard DIF girl (one that has greeted many motor coaches), here’s my list of insider tips:

  • Buy tickets at the gate--or save by purchasing them early online . Buying online is the ONLY way to take advantage of the weekend pass (not available at the gate). Kids under 12 are free. Students with a valid school ID save $2 on admission. Free admission Sunday until 11 a.m. with a donation of a non-perishable food item.
  • Come early, stay and play. Historic Dublin hosts the Thursday night 5K Run and Dub Crawl —a fun event featuring plenty o’ Irish attitude. Dublin has 14 hotels, all within five minutes of the Festival. Additionally, Columbus has many hotels within a short drive of Dublin.
  • Free parking is available at many businesses within walking distance of Festival grounds. Metro Center Business Park offers parking AND a free shuttle. Many Dublin hotels also offer shuttle service for guests. The best parking is reserved for bicycles.
  • With 65 acts and 535 performances , you can feel the electricity in the air during DIF weekend. I’ll drop a few names (Moya Brennan, Gaelic Storm, StepCrew, Liz Carroll, The Young Dubliners, Teada, Karan Casey & John Doyle) and leave it to you to chart your fan plan.
  • The Columbus Feis Irish Dance competition coincides with DIF, taking place at Dublin Coffman High School on Saturday. On Saturday night, the Feis Parade of Champions strut their stuff on the PNC Bank Irish Thunder Stage . It’s ALWAYS a showstopping ‘best of the fest’ event.
  • If you find yourself lost, hurt or (Irish) penniless—think entrances. That’s where the Columbus State Preferred Pathway Information Tents, First Aid stations and ATMs are located.
  • Thirsty? You’ll need to purchase tokens ($2 each) for Festival alcohol, soda and water stands; cash not accepted. (DIF has its own signature stout, brewed exclusively for the event. Warning: get yours while it lasts.)
  • Embrace the culture. Buy a DIF T-shirt. Visit the Wake Tent. Pet a Celtic Canine. Shop for imported goods. Watch a hurling competition. Remember-While you’re here, you’re Irish!