“There’s always a mad rush for tickets the first day they go on sale,” says Dave Mahalik, Information Officer for the Celtic Colours International Festival. “And we are expecting Monday to be a very busy day at the Box Office.”
Last year, more than 20,000 tickets were purchased by Celtic and traditional music fans from all over Canada, the United States, and 31 other countries.
“People tend to worry that tickets are going to sell out before they get a chance to buy,” says Mahalik, who has worked at Celtic Colours for 14 years. “But with 46 concerts scheduled during the 9 days of the Festival, there are plenty of options available if you don’t get your first choice.”
With tickets ranging in price from $25 to $150, concerts scheduled for both afternoons and evenings, and a handful of concerts licensed for 19 years and over, there truly is something for everyone. Musicians, singers, dancers, and tradition-bearers from Cape Breton will be joined by their counterparts from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Shetland, Scotland, Ireland, the United States and the rest of Canada. The theme this year is about exploring and celebrating our Nordic connections and the shared roots of both cultures’ fiddle, song and dance traditions.
Several concerts will focus on these Nordic links, beginning with the opening show in Port Hawkesbury, October 11. North Atlantic Neighbours will feature the Barra MacNeils and colleagues from Denmark, Norway, Ireland and Shetland, including The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, who will also go head to head with Ashley MacIsaac at Taste of the Festival in Sydney, October 12. In Louisbourg on October 16, Norwegian, Irish and Swedish artists meet Cape Breton’s Sprag Session for an exchange of songs and tunes. In Ingonish, Sweden’s number one folk trio, Väsen, will share the stage with Cape Breton’s young and energetic Coìg. And the story continues throughout the week and across the Island.
The Celtic Colours Artists in Residence this year are friends who met at the festival in 2001. Kimberley Fraser was a teenager at the time and Denmark’s leading fiddler, Harald Haugaard, picked her out of the crowd as “the best” of our young players. They played together on the Festival Club stage and subsequently recorded a track for Kimberley’s next album. This year they are working together on a project called String Crossings. It brings together a dozen string players from Cape Breton, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the US to demonstrate the wide scope of possibilities for strings to provide melody, accompaniment, rhythm and percussion. The resulting concert will be at Strathspey Place, October 16.
Louisbourg is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year so Celtic Colours got into the spirit by adding a very special night at the Fortress. Music of the Night: Musique de la Nuit brings the entire Fortress alive with music and stories from suppertime to midnight with a period meal and five venues up and down the historic street. Tickets are limited and expensive, but the experience promises to be unique and unforgettable. And we’ll still be offering Step into the Past, already our most sought-after event.
For folks who enjoy relaxing with some friends and sharing a brew, there will be two Cabaret shows at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre on Sunday and Monday nights of the long weekend. Both are amazing lineups: Celtic Cabaret on Sunday features Cape Breton’s Beòlach, the Teetotallers from Ireland, Dry Bones from Manitoba and the eclectic bluegrass, gypsy-jazz Modern Grass; Monday night’s Celtic Cabaret Too will be a hit with Ashley MacIsaac, Bruce Guthro, Denmark’s Helene Blum and Harald Haugaard Band and Darren McMullen’s band. The Celtic Pub, in Baddeck on the final Friday, always sells out. Book your tickets early so you don’t miss Dirk Powell, All Fired Up and Heartwood Slacks.
The festival continues to connect our Celtic and Acadian cultures. Acadian Celtic Crossroads at L’Etoile de L’Acadie in Sydney will do just that and also add our Cajun cousins to the mix. This show is a matinee on Saturday October 12 and will be the perfect opportunity to introduce young people to the rich music, dance and songs that have connected us over the generations. That theme continues in Cheticamp on Tuesday with Lennie Gallant meeting Dirk Powell, J.P. Cormier and Quebec’s Le Bruit court dans la ville.
There would not be a Celtic Colours without the legacy of our culture bearers. This year, tributes will be paid to two beloved Gaelic fiddlers, Joe Peter MacLean and Alex Francis MacKay, and the festival will celebrate Forty Years Strong with the Cape Breton Chorale and the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association. A very special nod to the music of the Rankins will be presented at the Savoy Theatre on October 18 as singers and musicians share their own interpretations of the well-loved songs, and the secret to passing along the culture will be shared at the Generations concert on the final afternoon in Mabou.
The Celtic Colours International Festival, a Canadian Tourism Commission Signature Event , takes place October 11-19 in more than 50 communities all over Cape Breton Island. Tickets go on sale July 8 and are available to purchase online through celtic-colours.com, over the phone 1-888-355-7744, or in person at the Celtic Colours Box Office, 355 George Street, Sydney.
For more information about Celtic Colours, including a complete schedule of concerts and community cultural events, artist biographies, and a video all about this year’s festival, visit celtic-colours.com.