With so much to do, see, and hear during the Celtic Colours International Festival, you can’t possibly get to everything, so we’ve decided to spin the bottle and shine the spotlight on some potential choices for your Celtic Colours experience.
This first community spotlight focuses on one rural corner of Inverness County. This Scenic side-route to Inverness, Mabou, and Terre Noire has a rich heritage of fibre arts and Gaelic culture. Along the northeast corner of Lake Ainslie, at the foot of the Southwest Margaree River is the community of Scotsville, where cultural heritage is woven into daily life – pun intended.
The Scotsville School of Crafts was founded in 1991 by the Lake Ainslie Weavers & Craft Guild. Their vision has transformed an old school into a unique centre for the display and teaching of several traditional crafts including weaving, spinning and painting. During Celtic Colours, the Lake Ainslie Weavers & Craft Guild hosts a variety of events including an exhibition of art work, demonstrations of textile arts, painting workshops, and a Gaelic history discussion.
Scotsville is about 30 minutes from Whycocomagh, 20 minutes from Inverness, and 30 minutes from Mabou, so traveling through Lake Ainslie, Scotsville, or Southwest Margaree are great choices for a daytime scenic detour en route to your Celtic Colours concert of choice.
Take Wednesday, October 15 for example. You could start the day at the Southwest Margaree Hall with a traditional breakfast beginning at 8:30 am, and then head to the Scotsville School of Crafts for 10 am for a Celtic Walk where you’ll learn the history of local bard Malcolm Gillis and sing his songs along the scenic riverbank. Following the walk is a Hot and Hearty lunch of homemade soups made from local ingredients. Stay on site for the afternoon’s square dance workshop where you’ll learn the patterns and figures of local square sets. And it all wraps up in time for you to take a drive through the colourful Inverness County countryside to the village of Mabou for a community Salmon Dinner and the Keys to the Cape Breton Piano Concert. Isn’t that a spectacular cross-section of Cape Breton culture in one jam-packed day?
Or Friday, October 17. If you’re traveling with your partner or friends and you have different interests, this day may give everyone an experience to their taste, even if you travel together. Local Artist Barrie Fraser is offering a Watercolour Workshop at 1 pm at the Scotsville School of Crafts. At the same time on the same site, there is a workshop of Gaelic Songs and Stories, where the history of the Scottish highlanders comes to life through the sharing of their stories and songs. While there, be sure to check out the art exhibit and artisan demonstrations.
Then take a short 20 minute drive to the community of Inverness where the Inverness County Centre for the Arts hosts an art exhibit as well as a community dinner of Roast Beef. Less than 5 minutes from dinner is the Inverness Education Centre / Academy, the venue for the evening’s concert Gigging with the Galway Girl featuring artists Sharon Shannon, Maeve Gilchrist & Nic Gareiss, All Fired Up, The Chaisson Family, and Dara Smith-MacDonald & Adam Young. And after the concert, it is a short drive to the Southwest Margaree Hall for their Square Dance.
The cultural buffet that is Celtic Colours allows you the opportunity to explore the beauty of Cape Breton Island, spend some time immersed in the local culture of the many communities where Celtic culture has been kept vibrant, and draw in the inspiration from the artists who have taken the passion of the culture in their signature styles to the stage at our world-class concerts. Celtic Colours International Festival takes place October 10-18. Please give the box office a call if you need more information or guidance (888-355-7744), or consult celtic-colours.com.