Boost in tourism for Celtic Colours Festival
Published Monday, October 9, 2017 12:12PM ADT
Cape Breton has had one of its best tourism seasons ever and the numbers keep growing as visitors take in the Celtic Colours International Festival.
The festival’s combination of fall foliage and fiddling has proven to create repeat visitors even from out of province.
A group of 40 high school students and chaperones from Kitchener, Ontario, took in the up-tempo sounds of the celtic bagpipes, Sunday.
"A lot of these students are musicians. A lot of them are fiddlers and I run a fiddle group at the school so we're searching for inspiration," said Kristy Hunsberger-Shortt.
It's the third time the Eastwood Collegiate Institute has sent a group of aspiring arts students to the Celtic Colours Festival.
"The beautiful views, the amazing music, the friendly people, they even let us cross the street,” said Sidney Hiemstra. “It's that amazing!”
Visitors from out of the country also took in the festival this year.
"Fall colours we've noticed were not quite this colourful in Montana,” said Joan Cook.
Besides the beautiful foliage of Cape Breton in the fall, Cook said she came to the festival for the first time to enjoy the music it has to offer.
"We heard about this fantastic festival three years ago so we made plans to come here,” she said.
Celtic Colours organizers said they have been noticing an uptick in people coming from out-of-town and a jump in ticket sales from Western Canada in particular.
While it would be easy to simply credit Cape Breton's recent momentum as a tourist destination, those behind the festival said the success runs both ways.
"I think the popularity of Celtic Colours is having an impact on our tourism numbers,” said organizer, Dave Mahalik. “We had a big year last year, our 20th and we've had some great media attention the past couple of years and I think we're seeing the results of that this year,”
Festival organizers said one group that can be challenging for the festival to tap into is Cape Breton’s rapidly-growing cruise ship industry.
They said it's tough to get passengers to a concert during a short stopover, but they’re looking for ways to keep visitors coming for future years.
"What we do there is we market to those passengers and we hope they will kind of catch onto it, check it out and then buy their tickets for next year. Plan their trip for the next time they're here,” said Mahalik.
The Celtic Colours International festival is running until Saturday.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.