My favourite time of year has come and gone; Celtic Colours. For those of you who are new to this blog or don't have any idea what Celtic Colours is, it's an international festival held every year on Cape Breton Island in October. The festival started in 1997 and it's since only gotten bigger and better. Every year since I moved back home to Cape Breton from Newfoundland, I try to attend as many of the festival events as possible. This year I didn't manage to do as much as I usually do but I did get out and participate in a few events.
As if on queue, the leaves around Cape Breton seem to change simultaneously with the start of the festival. You know when festival fever hits because lots of unfamiliar faces begin appearing around town and they like to stop locals to ask for directions to concert venues or simply dig for information about the island and its people. They come from all over - China, The United Kingdom, The United States - and they are here for one reason; to indulge in world-renowned Celtic music and culture.
The thing that peaked my interest the most on this year's itinerary was the guided hike of the watershed in New Waterford, or The Summit as it's known to locals and this is the first event I attended during the festival. The reason it peaked my interest so much is because I'm from New Waterford and I had never done that trail before. I thought this hike would interest my dad as he lives in the area so he agreed to meet me at the trailhead that damp, foggy, rainy afternoon. Without thinking, I wore my regular, everyday walking sneakers and this proved to be a big mistake as the trail was full of very deep and muddy puddles.
About a dozen people showed up to do the hike and our guides were very informative and familiar with the area. We learned about the different wildlife and plant life that called the area home, we learned about the negative effects that everyday human activities are having on the watershed and we learned what steps are being taken to protect it and to educate the public on what they can do to protect it. When we stopped at the lake for snacks and pictures, we also learned about one another. Only a couple of the people there were from the New Waterford area while everyone else was from various places including one couple who came all the way from England. I enjoyed the watershed hike even though my feet got soaking wet. When the weather warms up, I think I'll do it again but this time take the other paths that went off into other directions that we didn't do that day due to a lack of time.
I didn't take in many other events this year but I did go to a few markets around Sydney and Baddeck. One event I always attend is the final concert of the festival and this year was no exception. Ricky's Rattlin Roarin' Roots took place at Centre 200 in Sydney and I was fortunate enough to be invited to watch the event from a private sky booth that also came with complimentary pizza and snacks. The concert was phenomenal just like every other one I've ever attended and featured an electric ensemble of both local and international talent. J. P. Cormier opened the show followed by the The Barra MacNeils and headliner Ricky Skaggs. Such a diverse mix of traditional sounds that came together for one great night at the end of one great festival!