Celtic Traditions

Cape Breton Island offers a chance to truly explore Celtic culture and history. There is a saying common here: Ciad mile failte. It means “a hundred thousand welcomes” and is typical of the warm greeting the island’s visitors can expect. To truly experience the Celtic culture, you’ll want to visit:

Gaelic College of Arts and Crafts

The Gaelic College of Arts and Crafts is where you will find students of all ages from around the corner and around the world who travel here to study programs in traditional Scottish disciplines including Gaelic language and song, music, dance and crafts.

Highland Village

The Highland Village is a living history museum and cultural centre that celebrates the Gaelic experience in Nova Scotia.

Celtic Music Interpretive Centre

Learn to fiddle or step dance at a ceilidh at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre, which offers the perfect introduction to traditional Cape Breton music. Listen to professional musicians explain the culture and play such tune types as marches, strathspeys, jigs and reels and watch them step-dance to the music too!

Celtic Colours International Festival

Take in one of the dozens of events, activities, concerts, workshops, tours and dances during the Celtic Colours International Festival held for 10 days annually each October.

Feis an Eilein

Visit Feis an Eilein on Christmas Island and take in the traditional milling frolic held the third Thursday in August as it has been for more than 70 years.

The Red Shoe Pub

Enjoy tasty eats and musical treats nightly at The Red Shoe Pub in Mabou, home of The Rankin Family.

Immersion Weekend at St. Francis Xavier University

Off island, you can also get a taste of our Scottish ancestry in Antigonish with an Immersion Weekend at St. Francis Xavier University with programs for children and adults as well as offering a Celtic Studies program.

Traditional Square Dances

Take in a traditional square dance … there’s one to be found around the Cape Breton Island on any given night! Local favourites include:

  • West Mabou Sports Club - the biggest (and some say best) dance on the island, this one runs all year long on Saturday nights featuring both indoor and outdoor dance floors.
  • Glencoe Mills Hall - with a new dance floor to spruce up the historic hall, this lively dance was once the regular gig of hometown fiddler Buddy MacMaster.
  • St. Joseph’s Parish Hall, Southwest Margaree - this adults-only shindig has been around forever!
  • Brook Village Parish Hall - this adults-only dance runs every Monday night for those who want to start the week off right.
  • The Barn at the Normaway Inn, Margaree Valley - a ceilidh kicks off the evening at 8 pm with a 3-fiddler competition followed by the square dance at 10 pm.
  • Scottsville - Located in the Lake Ainslie Community Hall, this adults-only dance is also on the north east side of Lake Ainslie itself.