Opening Friday night, October 9 in Port Hawkesbury with a concert featuring Loreena McKennitt, the String Sisters, Artists in Residence Lucy MacNeil and Liz Doherty, and Sabra MacGillivray, the 2015 Celtic Colours International Festival, presented by The Chronicle Herald, promises nine days and nights of concerts and community events before wrapping up October 17 in Sydney with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, the Barra MacNeils and J.P. Cormier in concert at Centre 200.
Artists from Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, will join some of Cape Breton’s finest singers, dancers, and players in 47 concerts taking place in communities all over the Island.
For its nineteenth year, Celtic Colours is bringing back some Festival favourites including fiddler Liz Doherty, harp-player Laoise Kelly, piper Paddy Keenan, and We Banjo 3 from Ireland; piper Fred Morrison, and Gaelic singers Kathleen MacInnes and Mary Ann Kennedy from Scotland; and Helene Blum and Harald Haugaard from Denmark. April Verch and her band return along with banjo-playing balladeer Old Man Luedecke, beloved singer-songwriters Dave Gunning and Laura Smith, and the always delightful and entertaining Newfoundland duo Jim Payne and Fergus O’Byrne.
We’re very excited to introduce Mec Lir from Isle of Man, Old Tyme fiddle legend Calvin Vollrath from Alberta, Irish-American trio Open the Door for Three and the Rachel Newton Trio from Scotland. Also making their Celtic Colours debut this year are The East Pointers from PEI, Matthew Byrne, Aaron Collis and Emilia Bartellas from Newfoundland and Labrador, and the String Sisters, a powerhouse group of fiddlers from Shetland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the US, some of whom are already old friends of the Festival.
Cape Breton Island is rich with musical heritage and our local musicians make up the largest component of the festival every year. Some of the artists you’ll see include Ashley MacIsaac, The Barra MacNeils, Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac, J.P. Cormier, Howie MacDonald, Dwayne Côté, Andrea Beaton, Kinnon and Betty Lou Beaton, Kimberley Fraser, and the Men of the Deeps.
Many of our traditions still exist because they have been passed down over the years. This year Celtic Colours honours three of these culture bearers with shows that focus on the important contributions made by the Cape Breton Symphony Fiddlers, Broadcaster Ray “Mac” MacDonald, and Eskasoni fiddler Wilfred Prosper.
There’s much more to Celtic Colours, and the culture, than concerts. More than 250 community cultural experiences offer opportunities to try out a square dance, a milling frolic or join in a session, to learn more about festival artists and the cultures they represent, to take in a workshop, a fiddle class, a hike with a magnificent view, or to enjoy a home-cooked meal at a community supper. This year many community meals are offering locally grown food, something you’ll also find at this year’s collection of Farmers’ Markets. And each day ends with an unpredictable lineup at the late night Festival Club, where the magic happens when the concerts are over.
This year, Celtic Colours is partnering with Cape Breton University to present the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention. NAFCo will offer fascinating papers and presentations to delegates and visitors, informative public workshops on fiddling, related instruments and dance, and exciting live performances during the Festival.
The 2015 Celtic Colours International Festival runs October 9-17. For the full schedule of events and artist information visit celtic-colours.com. Tickets go on sale Monday, July 6 at 10AM ADT. Phone 1-888-355-7744 or visit celtic-colours.com to book tickets.