Back to My Stompin’ Grounds – Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

We are an Island, a Rock in a stream
We are a People, as proud as there’s been
In soft summer breeze, or in wild winter winds
The home of our hearts, Cape Breton…

No matter where I go, when I go, or how long I go, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia will always beCeltic Colours Cape Breton Nova Scotia my home. I’m returning with my daughter, Athena, from October 6th-14th for the Celtic Colours International Festival, the ultimate taste of Cape Breton culture, music, and dance. For nine days in October, the Celtic Colours International Festival presents an extensive line-up of community events and concerts all over the island. Cape Breton is home to a unique combination of music, culture, and tradition; I want to become a tourist in my home town and soak up the island’s living Celtic culture. With an ambitious schedule and an open heart, I can’t wait to become part of the action and revel in Cape Breton’s spectacular Autumn scenery and entertainment.

Cape Breton FiddlersMy anticipated schedule includes The Cape Breton Fiddlers and a Thanksgiving Dinner in the Gaelic College on Sunday, October 7th. On Monday, October 8th, I hope to attend Our Gaelic Kids in the Christmas Island Fire Hall. The Orangedale Whistle in the Orangedale United Church is on Tuesday, October 9th and a special Ceilidh is planned for Wednesday, October 10th at Highland Heights Inn in Iona. With a Roast Beef Dinner and Highlands and Islands also in Iona on Thursday, October 11th, I have no reason to leave the area. Then, Friday, October 12th is a Celtic Pub in the Baddeck Community Centre (Athena might stay with her grandmother for that one).

Highland Heights InnHighland Heights Inn is the perfect starting point for the Celtic Colours. It’s central location, family-like atmosphere, home-cooked meals, and spectacular view make it the best spot on the island.

You can be sure that they’ll have nightly entertainment and if it isn’t arranged, just ask any of the local restaurant guests and my guess is that they have a guitar or fiddle not far away.

During my last stay there, local musician, Joe Peter, was enjoying his dinner when the Highland Heights Innhotel owner, Susan, asked him if he had “a few rounds in him”. He walked out to his car and returned with a fiddle. After only few minutes of playing, a young man joined in on the piano that was in the corner of the restaurant. Before I knew it, there were four other musicians playing along. It was a full evening of unexpected entertainment. I guess that’s common at the hotel. I mean, I grew up there but I didn’t think people traveled with their instruments in the car.

Yet another stay at Highland Heights Inn included a traditional Ceilidh with fiddle playing and dancing. I’d never square danced before, but I very well couldn’t be the only person at the hotel actually sitting. I “stepped up” and felt oddly comfortable with my new dancing friends. I might not have had a clue what I was doing, but I had a blast doing it.

The weather isn’t always great in Cape Breton, but the sunrises and sunsets are something to talk about. Do you want to experience one for yourself? It’s truly something to behold!

View from Highland Heights Inn

Even if you can’t attend Celtic Colours, you can find tradition, culture, family, and natural beauty on a regular basis at Highland Heights Inn.

Highland Heights Inn Iona Nova Scotia

During Celtic Colours, there are community cultural events held daily as well. Although I can’t play the guitar or fiddle, I might engage my voice or swing a partner since all participatory events are geared for inclusion. On Wednesday, October 10th at 2pm there is a Milling Frolic at the Highland Village Museum, which is conveniently located in the same driveway as Highland Heights Inn.

Gaels often sang while they worked. A milling frolic is the process of taking cloth from the loom, and pounding and fulling it on a milling table to felt the wool into a tighter fabric. It is a group effort where I, as a guest, will learn the chorus to Gaelic songs. I’d like to combine singing with some good ol’ fashion dance, but I don’t need a scheduled event to do either of those. Just find a party and join in the fun; everyone is always welcome in Cape Breton. 

Highland VIllage Cape Breton Nova Scotia

Will you be in Cape Breton during the Celtic Colours? I’ll see you at one of the events. I’ll be the one with a baby on my hip, a song on my lips, and a stomp in my step.

Over the highway and over the road,
Over the Causeway stories are told;
They tell of the coming and the going away,
How the cities of America draw me away.
Oh, and the companies come and the companies go,
And the way of the world we may never know;
We’ll follow the footsteps of those on their way,
And still ask for the right to leave or to stay.

(official Song Of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia)

114 thoughts on “Back to My Stompin’ Grounds – Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

    • Although from Cape Breton, we often spent our summers in Ingonish area. It was just far enough away from my home in Sydney Mines to feel like a vacation.

      I still think it has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and I’ve been around 🙂


  1. I was listening to a podcast of the Vinyl Cafe where they visited Cape Breton and I decided I should go next summer and since then I’ve seen so many wonderful articles and blogs about the area. It must be a sign! Enjoy!


  2. We so enjoyed Cape Breton, the Cabot Trail, Gaelic college and the ceilidh we attended. what a brilliant night that was! Thanks for reminding me of all those things. We will return!


  3. Thanks for this look into Nova Scotia. I recently found out that one branch of my family lived there for a short time. They lived in the area where the Accadians were expelled from. I would like to visit there someday.


  4. That sounds like a wonderful festival and celebration of your Celtic heritage! My Aunt used to really enjoy going to Celtic Festivals in our area and whenever I hear the music or anything about the culture, I can’t help but smile and remember her. Enjoy!


  5. Would that I could be there. Natalie McMasters has played the Bankhead in Livermore a couple of times now, so I am acquainted with the incredible talent up there in Cape Breton.


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