By all accounts, 2011 was a banner year for the Celtic Colours International Festival. In addition to celebrating its 15th year, the Festival’s ongoing success was evident both in the numbers it generated and in the recognition it received locally and nationally.
The Cape Breton Island-wide event partnered with 130 non-profit organizations and venues to present more than 300 performers in 45 concerts and 298 Community Cultural Experience events. The Celtic Colours in the Schools program was presented to 4,302 students in 22 schools throughout Cape Breton and more than 2,000 volunteers contributed almost 27,000 hours toward making the event a success.
Held in 76 communities throughout all four counties, the Festival attracted visitors from 50 US states, all Canadian provinces and territories, and 19 other countries. A total of 18,323 tickets were sold, and more than 12,000 people attended Community Cultural Experience events. An additional 6,649 people from all over the world tuned in to the Festival as nine concerts were streamed live online—one each day. With the increase in ticket sales and about half of the audience coming from off-island (55%), audience expenditure increased from $6.2 million in 2010 to $8.1 million in 2011 with more than $7 million directly attributable to Celtic Colours.
Celtic Colours’ 15th year was an exciting one from start to finish. In April, Festival founders Joella Foulds and Max MacDonald were inducted into the Cape Breton Tourism Hall of Fame by Cape Breton native Michele McKenzie, president and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission during a luncheon hosted by Destination Cape Breton Association. The following month, Foulds received an Honourary Degree from Cape Breton University. Hot on the heels of wrapping up the Festival in October, it was announced that Celtic Colours was named to the Canadian Tourism Commission’s Signature Experiences Collection and then in November the Festival won the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s National Cultural Tourism Award. Ending the year on a high note, it was announced on December 30 that Artistic Director Joella Foulds has been appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada, in recognition of her contributions to Cape Breton Island’s cultural sector as an arts administrator and volunteer.
The 16th Celtic Colours International Festival will take place October 5-13, 2012. The lineup will be announced in June with tickets going on sale in July.