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Sounds of the season: The Barra MacNeils East Coast Christmas tour returns to the Maritimes

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The Barra MacNeils are in the middle of a cross-country Christmas tour with 26 stops and just as many shows.

"This has become a Canadian tradition for a lot of folks,” said Stewart MacNeil, one of the MacNeil siblings of Sydney Mines, N.S.

The family has been performing together for decades as a musical group and putting on holiday concerts since the release of their first Christmas album back in 1999.

"Between releasing that album and being guests with Rita on her Christmas show, there seemed to be a demand for us and our Christmas music and arrangements,” MacNeil explained.

Over the years, their unique blend of Celtic music and Christmas favourites has appealed to generations.

"(People will) come up to us after the show and they say, 'When I was a kid, our parents used to take us to the show. Now, we take our parents to the show’.” MacNeil said.

However, when the tour comes home to the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay, N.S., on Dec. 16, one of their parents won't be there.

The MacNeils’ mother, Jean, died last January.

"That was the place where our parents would finally see the show,” said group member Lucy MacNeil. “So last year was the last year that both parents were there, and our father will come out this year. It will be a moving (evening), for sure."

The Barra MacNeils say their shows in Saint John, N.B., and Fredericton are sold out, but that some tickets remain for Halifax, Wolfville, N.S., Charlottetown, and Glace Bay, N.S.

The tour wraps up Dec. 22, at Massey Hall in Toronto.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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