Celtic Colours is an experience like no other. For nine days in October, Cape Breton Island is alive with music, energy and excitement as people come from far and wide to celebrate our rich culture. From concerts to dances and workshops to community suppers, we offer a full range of events against a gorgeous backdrop of autumn colours.
Ùr: The Future Of Our Past Dave Gunning & J.P. Cormier Natalie MacMaster & Mac Morin Kate Rusby Mairi Rankin & Eric Wright Blazin' Fiddles Brighde Chaimbeul & Ross Ainslie Karen Matheson & Donald Shaw Breabach Mary Jane Lamond & Ùr: The Future Of Our Past Socks in the Frying Pan Ye Vagabonds Cape Breton University Pipe Band
Cape Breton Island is home to a unique combination of music and culture, inspired by 19th Century settlers from Scotland and Ireland, and influenced by the Aboriginal Mi’kmaq people, the Island’s physical geography, and the waves of immigrants who populated its communities during industrialization. Generation after generation of settlers, from the Scottish and Irish to the French who came before them, were able to maintain their culture and traditions in this new land due in part to the island’s isolation and subsequent lack of outside influences. Music, language, dance and community played an important role in each of these cultures and continue to do so today.
One of the things that sets Celtic Colours apart from the vast majority of festivals taking place around the globe is that it isn’t limited to just one location. Communities around Cape Breton Island host concerts and workshops. These are the communities where the culture has been nurtured for over 200 years, providing context for the roots of the music and celebrating each community’s contribution to the island’s living Celtic culture.
In many of these communities, the local fire hall, parish hall or community centre has hosted musical events for generations, in some cases, literally moving the fire trucks out of the hall to accommodate a dance. Venues for Celtic Colours vary from an 18th Century reconstructed French Chapel to state of the art performance facilities to community halls, but all venues share in common the prominent place each holds in the community it serves. The Celtic culture of music, dance and story-telling lives on in these communities and provides foundation for the celebration of living culture that is the Celtic Colours International Festival.
First held in 1997, the festival has featured hundreds of musicians from all over the Celtic world and attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Cape Breton Island. For nine days in October, Cape Breton Island is home to a unique celebration of music and culture as the Celtic Colours International Festival presents dozens of concerts all over the island, an extensive line-up of workshops, a visual art series of exhibitions, and a nightly Festival Club. Over the years, artists have traveled from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, Brittany, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Cuba and Sweden as well as from across the United States and Canada.
Celtic music has seen a resurgence of interest in North America during recent years. Fueled in part by the success and popularity of entertainers like Natalie MacMaster, Buddy MacMaster, the Barra MacNeils, Ashley MacIsaac, the Rankin Family and Rita MacNeil, this interest has focused attention on Cape Breton Island, its music, its people and its culture.
Workshops, offered in many aspects of Celtic and Gaelic culture, allow visitors and residents alike to get the hands-on experience they desire. Host communities around the island present workshops in Gaelic language and song, components of tradition, instrument instruction and traditional dance, as well as offering cultural tours, ceilidhs and a lecture series. They also organize an extensive array of community events including meals and dances.
One of the most popular features of the Celtic Colours International Festival every year is the Festival Club. Located at the Gaelic College in St. Ann's, the Festival Club opens as the evening concerts are closing, offering an opportunity for Festival artists to perform in a more informal setting, or to get a session in with friends and colleagues from near and far. Performance is by invitation only and depends upon artist availability on any given night.
»This sixth volume of Celtic Colours Live opens with a rollicking number that leaves no doubt as to why Ùr: The Future Of Our Past has become a regular on Celtic Colours stages since debuting at the Festival three years ago ... Rounding out this year's hand-picked group of extraordinary students from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland was singer Amy Papiransky, along with instructors Lori Watson (fiddle) and Phil Cunningham (accordion).«
Photo Credits: (1) Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, (by Seán Laffey); (2),(5) Celtic Colours, (3),(9) Brìghde Chaimbeul, (5) Ùr: The Future Of Our Past, (6) Natalie MacMaster, (7) Dave Gunning & J.P. Cormier, (8) Kate Rusby, (11) Blazin Fiddles, (12) Frigg, (13) Wendy MacIsaac & Mary Jane Lamond (unknown/website).