Nova Scotia Community

9 things to do at Celtic Colours International Festival

Celtic Colours is an experience like no other. For nine days in October, Cape Breton Island is alive with music, energy and excitement as people come from far and wide to celebrate Cape Breton’s rich culture.

An unforgettable celebration of music and festivities, Oct. 11-19

For nine days in October, amid the spectacle of fall colours, Cape Breton overflows with music, energy and excitement as people come from all over to this island-wide celebration.

1. Take in a Concert (or sixteen!)

The Celtic Colours International Festival will look different this year, with its online only format. (Corey Katz Photography)

At any of the 52 concerts you'll experience some of the world's finest musicians sharing the stage with the best of Cape Breton's singers, dancers, players, storytellers and culture-bearers. Concerts take place in unique venues ranging from intimate community halls and churches to modern schools and performance spaces.

2. Get Outside

(Steve Wadden)

Cape Breton Island's spectacular scenery is magical so be sure to check out the series of outdoor events. Guided walks, informative hikes in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and boat tours get you outside and into the fresh air.

3. Enjoy a Home-cooked Meal

(Steve Wadden)

Have some dinner before your show, spend an afternoon enjoying lunch, or grab some breakfast to start your travels. Community groups around the Island offer an opportunity to break bread together and share a home-cooked meal, many with locally-sourced ingredients.

4. Go on a Road Trip


Explore some of Cape Breton Island's natural beauty by hitting the road. From the picturesque rocky shores of Isle Madame and rolling hills along the Margaree to stunning vistas around the Cabot Trail, a little road trip will surely take your breath away.

5. Get in on the Action

(Corey Katz Photography)

Participatory events give you a chance to get in on the action and immerse yourself in the culture. Learn a few steps and join in a square dance, take part in a milling frolic, or jump in on a jam session, there's plenty to do every day of the Festival.

6. Learn more about Cape Breton's culture

(Highland Village)

Learn more about Nova Scotia's Gaelic settlers, see celebrated Acadian handicrafts or experience traditional Mi'kmaw culture. Many communities host events that share the history, traditions, and stories of our people and the land.

7. Be Inspired

(Courtesy of Celtic Colours)

The creative spirit thrives on Cape Breton Island. A series of exhibitions, demonstrations, and workshops celebrate the visual arts and heritage crafts of the Island's many and varied artisans and crafters.

8. Make Something

(Murdock Smith, courtesy of Celtic Colours)

Throughout the nine days of Celtic Colours, you can learn a new skill and make something from scratch. From blacksmithing and basket-weaving to baking the best Cape Breton oatcakes, don't miss this chance to make something to take home... along with the memories, of course.

9. Toast the Good Times!

(Sean Purser)

Looking for some late-night fun? Head to The Festival Club held each night at Colaisde na Gàidhlig / The Gaelic College in St. Ann's. With performances by Festival artists going until 3 a.m., breakfast being served starting at 2 a.m., and a free shuttle service to nearby Baddeck hotels, this is a must for those 19 & over.

For more information about Celtic Colours visit the Festival website.