The hit Irish quintet Celtic Thunder has announced plans for its first national tour of the U.S. this fall. The extensive 51-date trek begins October 3 at the Broome County Arena in Binghamton, NY, and continues through December 17 at the Rosemont Theatre in Chicago, IL.

Highlights for the Celtic Thunder trek include an October 7-8 run at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY, and two separate shows at Agganis Arena in Boston, MA, on October 6 and October 28. A single Canadian engagement is scheduled for October 23 at the Air Canada Centre Theatre in Toronto, ON.

Produced by Sharon Browne and Phil Coulter, the all-male ensemble formed in 2007 and performed its debut in Dublin, IRE, later that same year. Shortly thereafter Celtic Thunder released its eponymous debut record and companion live DVD, “Celtic Thunder: The Show,” but did not gain mainstream attention in the U.S. until PBS stations across the country began featuring the group. The follow-up “Celtic Thunder: Act Two” is slated for release on September 16.

Ensemble tours featuring traditional Irish song and dance mixed with contemporary overtones have become increasingly popular in the last decade, beginning with the emergence of Riverdance in the mid-1990s. Irish step dancer Michael Flatley’s offshoot Lord of the Dance, and female vocal group Celtic Woman have been the latest addition to the craze, selling out numerous shows around the world.

Celtic Thunder is comprised of Damien McGinty, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly, Paul Byrom and George Donaldson. The members bring a variety of vocal ranges to the group — and a variety of ages. Just 16 years old, McGinty is the youngest member, while Donaldson, the most established performer, is the oldest at 40.

The quintet performs traditional Irish songs, as well as contemporary covers, such as “Nights in White Satin” and “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Celtic Thunder’s recordings and live shows feature a blend of solo and ensemble performances by Celtic Thunder members, backed with a full back-up band.

“We had so much fun making the show, and it is very exciting to think about bringing it to U.S. audiences,” Byrom is quoted on the group’s Web site.

(Photo courtesy of Celtic Thunder.)

Celtic Thunder itinerary:
(Dates subject to change.)

October 3 Binghamton, NY Broome County Arena
October 4 Mashantucket, CT MGM Grand at Foxwoods
October 6 Boston, MA Agganis Arena
October 7 – 8 New York, NY Radio City Music Hall
October 11 Cincinnati, OH U.S. Bank Arena
October 12 Indianapolis, IN Theatre at Conseco Fieldhouse
October 14 Detroit, MI Fox Theatre
October 15 Rosemont, IL Rosemont Theatre
October 17 St. Louis, MO The Fabulous Fox Theatre
October 18 Grand Rapids, MI Van Andel Arena
October 19 Columbus, OH Schottenstein Center
October 20 Cleveland, OH Wolstein Center
October 23 Toronto, ON Theatre at Air Canada Centre
October 24 Pittsburgh, PA Petersen Events Center
October 25 Philadelphia, PA Wachovia Spectrum
October 26 Manchester, NH Verizon Wireless Arena
October 28 Boston, MA Agganis Arena
October 30 Albany, NY Times Union Center
November 1 Atlantic City, NJ Trump Taj Mahal
November 2 Long Island, NY Nassau Coliseum
November 5 Reading, PA Sovereign Center
November 6 Wilkes-Barre, PA Wachovia Arena
November 7 Baltimore, MD 1st Mariner Arena
November 8 Charlotte, NC Cricket Arena
November 10 Tampa, FL The Line Theatre at St. Pete Times Forum
November 11 Sunrise, FL Sinatra Theatre at the Bank Atlantic Center
November 12 Orlando, FL UCF Arena
November 14 Greenville, SC Pepsi Pavilion at the BiLo Center
November 15 Atlanta, GA Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center
November 17 N. Little Rock, AR The Theatre at ALLTEL Arena
November 18 Kansas City, MO Sprint Center
November 19 Tulsa, OK BOK Center
November 21 Grand Prairie, TX Nokia Theatre
November 22 San Antonio, TX AT&T Center
November 24 Baton Rouge, LA Baton Rouge Civic Center
November 25 Houston, TX Reliant Park Arena
November 26 Phoenix, AZ Dodge Theatre
November 29 Los Angeles, CA Nokia – LA Live
December 1 San Diego, CA San Diego Sports Arena
December 2 Fresno, CA SaveMart Center
December 3 San Jose, CA HP Pavillion at San Jose
December 4 Sacramento, CA ARCO Arena
December 6 Portland, OR Theatre of the Clouds at the Rose Garden
December 7 Seattle, WA Comcast Arena at Everett Center
December 8 Spokane, WA The Star Theatre at the Spokane Arena
December 12 Denver, CO Wells Fargo Theatre
December 14 DesMoines, IA Wells Fargo Arena
December 15 Minneapolis, MN U.S. Bank Theater at the Target Center
December 16 Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee Theatre
December 17 Chicago, IL Rosemont Theatre