Celtic & Gaelic Culture
The Gaelic Culture of Nova Scotia is as Celtic as You Will Get!
Gaelic, a Celtic language and its rich culture have helped shape Nova Scotia's identity. Centuries ago, Gaelic speaking immigrants from both Ireland and Scotland came by the tens of thousands and made Nova Scotia their home.
In both instances, these settlers called themselves Gàidheil (ones who speak Gaelic).
Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Gaelic Settlements
Irish Gaels settled in urban areas such as Halifax and Sydney and in pockets of rural Cape Breton. Today, fiddle playing styles, Anglo-Irish folk songs and dance are lively and enjoyable parts of the Irish culture experience in Nova Scotia.
Scottish Gaels settled in large numbers in eastern Nova Scotia and throughout Cape Breton Island.
Nova Scotia Gaelic and Cape Breton Celtic
The Gaelic language and culture of these early settlers is commonly referred to as Nova Scotia Gaelic and is part of daily living in the province. Fiddle and pipe music and Gaelic song provide a rich musical experience. Dance, storytelling, local history and customs are part of community living. The famous "kitchen party", often referred to as a "céilidh" ("a visit") is a common occurrence and is a great way to share language, song, music, dance and story.
To experience Nova Scotia Gaelic culture, attend a féis (festival), luadhadh (a milling frolic), bogadh (an immersion) or pick up a Gaelic dictionary to learn more about this rich language. Visit www.gov.ns.ca/oga and www.gaelic.ca for further information on Nova Scotia Gaelic.
To participate in a Scottish cultural experience, wear a kilt, enjoy the skirl of the bagpipes from a marching band and see the cabar being tossed at one of the province's Highland Games events.
Gaelic and Celtic Events in Nova Scotia
You'll find "Ciad Mìle" ("One hundred thousand") ways to experience Nova Scotia Gaelic language and culture, Scottish culture and Irish culture in Nova Scotia. Take in a performance by one of Nova Scotia's legendary Celtic performers like the Barra MacNeils and the Rankins, or Natalie MacMaster. You can find them everywhere from concert halls to cozy pubs. Dive into an Immersion Weekend at St. Francis Xavier University with programs for children and adults. Lose yourself in the whirl of kilts and skirl of pipes at the Antigonish Highland Games, an annual event in Nova Scotia since 1863.
Gaelic Culture of Cape Breton
To locate and experience the truly authentic, Gaelic culture of Cape Breton, investigate The Celtic Heart of North America, an organization representing the amazing Celtic and Gaelic cultural experience on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. They celebrate and share the only living Celtic culture in North America. Whether it's dancing to lively fiddle tunes, learning a Gaelic milling song or tracing your roots, we’d love to share our Celtic culture with you. Cuin’ a thig sibh air cheilidh? (So when are you coming?)
The following organizations are some of the key members of The Celtic Heart of North America.
Celtic Attractions in Cape Breton
- Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts - Students of all ages and ability travel here from around the world to study programs in traditional Scottish disciplines including Gaelic language and song, music, dance and crafts.
- Highland Village Museum/An Clachan Gàidhealach - a living history museum and cultural centre that celebrates the Gaelic experience in Nova Scotia.
- Celtic Music Interpretive Centre - Enjoy live Celtic music 7 days a week (May-October), sign up workshops or try the fiddle school.
- Celtic Colours International Festival - take in one of the hundreds of events, activities, concerts, workshops, tours and dances in this Island-wide event.
- Attend the 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.