ATLANTIC CANADA, April 20, 2007 – The pipers will be piping and the clans will be gathering, the Tall Ships are sailing in and 100,000 francophones will be assembling. This summer Americans looking for history – not to mention traditional music and dance – don’t have to cross the pond to experience the culture of the British Isles or France. They can head up to Atlantic Canada. Here, in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island there’s plenty of celebrating going on. With Irish, Scottish, French Acadian, and British heritage, seafaring history, traditional ceilidhs, step dancing and Celtic music, there’s something everyone will enjoy.
Alternating every four years with Scotland, Nova Scotia’s International Gathering of the Clans will offer a veritable Braveheart extravaganza of events – ceilidhs, pipe fests, fiddling festivals and Burns poetry readings – from April to October. Visitors will even have a chance to see North America’s oldest Highland Games, the Antigonish Highland Games July 21-22. www.igc2007.ca/index.asp Called Canada’s festival province, Nova Scotia hosts more than 800 annually and one was recently awarded royal status. Kicking off July 1, the Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo is the world’s largest annual indoor show typically drawing up to 60,000 spectators. With over 2,000 performers, the event combines music, dance, drama, gymnastics, comedy, military displays and competitions and ends on July 8 with the spectacular Pipefest which showcases 1000 pipers on parade. www.nstattoo.ca From July 13 to 23, Tall Ships Nova Scotia 2007 – the largest event of its kind in North America this year – sails into Halifax and on to Lunenburg, Shelburne and Yarmouth. www.wdcl.ca
The Irish have long had a strong presence in New Brunswick (and throughout Atlantic Canada) going back to the Great Famine of the mid-1800s when more than 30,000 Irish immigrants entered Canada through Saint John alone. Their heritage is celebrated at Canada’s Irish Festival on the Miramichi, July 20-22 with outdoor song and dance performances, impromptu ceilidhs (kitchen parties), children’s activities, a 5K race and workshops focusing on everything from genealogy to Irish whistle-playing. www.canadasirishfest.com Visitors are invited to “Be a Scot for the weekend” July 27 to 29 at the Highland Games and Scottish Festival in Fredericton where there will be highland dancing, bagpipes, whisky tastings and a Tattoo. www.highlandgames.ca From July 25 to 29, the Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival is the only one in Canada that focuses on music from 1600 to 1760. Taking place on picturesque Lamèque Island off the province’s northeast coast, this premier artistic event stays true to the aesthetics of the Baroque era by using only period instruments or exact replicas. www.festivalbaroque.com Voted one of the top 100 Festivals in North America last year, the Acadian Festival (August 5-15) draws 100,000 spectators to see some 200 artists perform – concerts, theater, dance performances – and comes with the blessing of the fishing fleet by the local Catholic clergy. There’s plenty of food and drink capped off by the Tintamarre, a massive – and very loud – street celebration on Acadia Day (August 15). www.festivalacadien.ca
Newfoundland and Labrador
From July 1 to 8, Newfoundland and Labrador will be hosting Festival 500 Sharing the Voices, an international festival of choral music which will attract singers, conductors and scholars from around the world. www.festival500.com Some 60 concerts are scheduled in St. John’s and this year’s theme focuses on the Celtic influence on the genre. St. John’s Time is a non-stop, 11-day party from July 26 to August 5 that includes three major festivals and a regatta. This lively celebration kicks off with the George Street Festival (July 26-31) in St John’s famous downtown entertainment district. The streets are closed, pubs throw open their doors and bands rock all day and well into the night. As this party winds down, the next one is just beginning. Celebrated since 1826, the Royal St. John’s Regatta, one of North America’s oldest continuing sporting events is highlighted by a series of rowing events along Quidi Vidi Lake. This year on August 1, some 50,000 cheering spectators are expected to line up in outlandish dress to watch. Then from August 3 to 5, it’s the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival where scores of singers, dancers, storytellers, musicians and bands from all over the province come to perform traditional Newfoundland music, Celtic tunes handed down through the centuries and rock. At the Buskers Festival visitors can see up to 30 shows a day watching jugglers, acrobats, magicians, comedians and much more at four busking stages throughout the city. www.stjohnstime.ca
Prince Edward Island
This summer the news on PEI is as much sporting as musical. Prince Edward Island is hosting two major events that show off the province’s golf courses and biking trails. For the Women’s World Cup Cycling race (June 10-14), cyclists will race across the 8 ½-mile-long Confederation Bridge (it’s the bridge’s 10th anniversary) and around the island’s quaint villages, up gentle rolling hills and past charming seascapes. www.tourdepei.com On July 29 and 30 the Links at Crowbush Cove, the crown jewel of the island’s 30 golf courses, will be the setting for Making the Connection ® Legends of Golf. Last year World Golf Hall of Famers Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson played head to head and this year Mike Weir, the only Canadian ever to win the Masters will compete against World Golf Hall of Famer, Vijay Singh at this charity competition. www.legendsofgolfpei.com Music lovers will enjoy the Indian River Festival (July 1-August 26), a series of concerts at St. Mary’s Church. The 1902 French Gothic building is acclaimed as one of the world’s top ten places to perform and leading classical musicians from North America and Europe – including celebrated Celtic musicians – enjoy making music here. www.indianriverfestival.com Also in July and August, a dozen sculptors will transform 3000 tons of sand into original sculptures during Sandland right on Charlottetown’s waterfront. www.visitcharlottetown.com
Looking ahead to 2008 Prince Edward Island will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication of the children’s classic, Anne of Green Gables with a year-long series of events including a children’s literary festival. And it’s also not too early to start thinking about the World Acadian Congress in New Brunswick in 2009 – a perfect opportunity to see the culture and traditions of the French Acadians which are still alive today.
The Atlantic Canada Tourism Partnership (ACTP) is a nine member pan-Atlantic partnership comprised of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the four Atlantic Canada Tourism Industry Associations, and the four departments responsible for tourism for the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Go to www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca (1-800-561-0123), www.novascotia.com (1-800-565-0000), www.newfoundlandlabradortourism.com
(1-800-563-NFLD) and for Prince Edward Island, go to www.gentleisland.com (1-800-463-4PEI).