It was over a decade ago that an imaginative union of tourism and cultural heritage formed to create the Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. With the 11th annual festival taking place Oct. 6-13, 2007, and growing every year, the nine-day festival, awash in autumn colors, with gorgeous sea and landscape settings, has become one of the world’s most renowned gatherings.
Last year 14,000 people — more than half from off-island — traveled from 21 countries to hear an amazing mix of Celtic entertainment and attend some of the hundreds of events and workshops in fiddle, pipes, dancing and crafts.
Star-studded concerts took place every day and evening and were spread over 50 communities on Nova Scotia’s northernmost region, an area known for preserving the Scottish, Irish, Acadian (French) and Native America heritage as part of its everyday existence.
Visitors can pick and choose the performers that appeal to them, and enjoy driving uncrowded roads and breath-taking scenery enroute to community halls like the Glencoe Mills Dance Hall or the Judique Musical Centre. You will also see more fiddlers playing at more events than you have ever seen before.
Opening this year’s Celtic Colours Festival are the grand old men of Irish traditional music, The Chieftains, who last came to the festival in the opening year of 1997 when they were exploring Cape Breton music. The Chieftains will perform with a slew of talent in a show entitled the “Cape Breton Connection” at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Center. Irish acts like the Karan Casey Band and Michael Black will join the group along with Dougie McLean, Shoogenifty, and the best of Cape Breton’s musicians, including the legendary Buddy McMaster. J.P. Cormier, the Barra MacNeils, Ashley MacIssac and Mary Jane Lamond, will also be on hand.
The Barra MacNeils, one of those quintessentially multi-talented Cape Breton families who have made a huge splash in Canada and the U.S., will close out the festival on October 13 with a concert celebrating their 20 years in the music business. The special tribute will take place at the Sydney Marine Terminal, in the port city furthest north.
In addition to all the concerts, late night revelers with stamina can rub shoulders with the talent at the nightly Festival Club held in St. Ann’s at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts, where even more music is laid on until the early hours.
The website www.celtic-colours.com offers further details on the myriad events and concerts as well as travel information. Or you can call: 902.562.6700. ♦