Celtic Heritage Tour
Day 1: Pictou
Start your Celtic Heritage Tour in the historic harbour town of Pictou, the “Birthplace of New Scotland” and one of the largest communities on the Northumberland Shore. See an authentic replica of the Ship Hector which carried the first wave of Scottish immigrants to the area in 1773. The Hector Heritage Quay features an interpretive centre to explore as well as a master rigger, blacksmith, carpentry shop and artist on site.
Overnight: Pictou area.
Day 2: Pictou - Mabou
Your first stop today will be in Antigonish a major cultural and service centre with a strong Scottish heritage. You can watch as bagpipes are crafted at John Walsh Bagpipes Ltd. and perhaps even get a lesson!
Since 1861, the community hosts the Antigonish Highland Games every July - the largest and oldest highland games held outside Scotland with highland music, dancing, food and traditional games.
Continue to Cape Breton Island where Scottish traditions and Gaelic folklore come alive along the Ceilidh Trail. Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) is Gaelic for party or gathering, and if you listen closely you might hear the heart-stirring music of bagpipes and fiddles echoing through the glens of the beautiful corner of Cape Breton Island.
Discover Cape Breton’s Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique where you can learn about the history of Cape Breton music through cultural tours and workshops. Also in Judique, are The Tartan Gardens, a unique celebration of Scottish heritage with over 12,000 flowers planted in the MacDonald, Clan Ranald and Cape Breton tartans.
In Glenville, tour North America’s only single malt whisky distillery, Glenora Distillery. Enjoy the sounds of Celtic music during warm summer afternoons as you savour a wee dram!
Overnight: Mabou area.
Day 3: Cabot Trail
Spend the day exploring the world famous Cabot Trail - a coastal highway described as one of the world’s most spectacular drives! The Cabot Trail winds around the rocky splendour of Cape Breton’s northern shore, ascending to the incredible plateaus of Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
This magnificent highway is carved into the sides of mountains that rise high above the shimmering waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Look-offs offer unforgettable vistas of Cape Breton’s rugged coastline, where pods of whales can often be seen just offshore and bald eagles soar aloft on the ocean breezes.
Overnight: Ingonish area
Day 4: Ingonish - Iona
Travel from Ingonish to St. Ann’s, home of the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts, the only one of its kind in North America where figures in traditional dress represent the clans who first settled the area. Learn about Scottish history and culture from early times to the present with a kilt-making demonstration, pick up some Gaelic during a milling frolic or simply enjoy some tea and oatcakes as you admire the highlands vistas.
Experience centuries of Gaelic Scottish heritage at The Highland Village Museum (An Clachan Gaidhealah) in Iona. The picturesque 43-acre site overlooking the Barra Strait is one of the most unique historical communities in Canada with pure-bred Soay sheep joining the Village's herd of Highland cattle as a living exhibit of domestic animals indigenous to 18th century Gaelic Scotland. Costumed animators demonstrate weaving, rug hooking, soap making, blacksmithing, farming and much more.
Overnight: Iona area
Travel back to mainland (or continue on another itinerary).