Comunn Féis an Eilein is welcoming travellers to Christmas Island for their 20th annual Feis an Eilein to celebrating the Gaelic language, culture, and history of the area.
A Féis is a community-based festival with its beginnings on the Island of Barra, Scotland in 1981. Held to in part to promote the preservation of an area’s gaelic traditions, the Feis movement spread to eventually number 36 festivals. The Féis at Christmas Island was the first one to be held outside of Scotland, with Comunn Féis an Elein forming as a registered charity to preserve its particular local traditions.
A full schedule of workshops and activities is planned for August 16-21. The events include workshops in Gaelic language and song, step dance, fiddle and chanter for bagpipes, with sessions available for all ages. Visitors and residents can participate in Gaelic culture through concerts, milling frolics, céilidhs, and square dances. Prices for activities range from $5 to $25.
The festival kicks off with a children’s concert Monday, August 16, 7:00pm at the Grand Narrows Waterfront. There will be performances of youth from the summer music programs along with young local musicians Anita MacDonald and Evan Bonaparte. Hot dogs and pop will be available free of charge, though silver donations are welcome.
To commemorate the 20th year of the festival, a symposium will be held at 7:30pm, with long-time Féis supporter Lorrie MacKinnon hosting. Those gathered will be able to take a look at the history and development of the Féis, and hear from founding members and native gaelic speakers. Admission is $8, and refreshments will be served.
Proceeds of the annual Féis are used to offer classes in Gaelic language and song, step dance and chanter. The classes are subsidized by the Feis Society so that lessons can be offered to children and youth at no charge.
For more information on the Féis and its complete schedule of events, visit féisaneilein.ca. Most events are located at 8539 Grand Narrows Hwy, (route 223), Christmas Island.