By Laurel Munroe – Cape Breton Post
If you’re counting on seeing legendary Irish fiddler Sean McGuire at this year’s Celtic Colours festival, you’ll have to act fast.
One of McGuire’s two festival performances, Fiddlers’ Heaven, Oct. 9, at the Judique Community Centre, is already sold out and only a handful of tickets remain for Irish Roots, Oct. 8, at Theatre on the Cliffs, at Keltic Lodge, Ingonish.
If McGuire’s countryman, Irish bard Tommy Makem, is more your bag, you’ll have no luck with The Waters of Iona, Oct. 12, but tickets are still available for Makem and More, Oct. 13, in Inverness, where the singer will be joined by Cape Breton’s own Slàinte Mhath, Maritime duo Evans & Doherty and the Shetlands’ Filska. And Oct. 11, Makem will team up with fellow singer-songwriters Dougie MacLean, from Scotland, and Cape Bretoners Buddy MacDonald and Stewart MacNeil for Bards & Ballads, in Baddeck.
Tickets for this year’s edition of Celtic Colours, which runs Oct. 6-14, are going fast, says Select-a-Seat executive director Heather Hayes, noting five shows are sold out: Fiddlers’ Heaven, The Waters of Iona, Step Into the Past, at Fortress Louisbourg, The Giant’s Ceilidh, in Englishtown, and The MacDonalds of Queensville, in Glendale.
Shows with “very few” seats remaining include: Kelly’s Dream, Boularderie School, Ross Ferry, Oct. 9; Square Dance, Big Pond Fire Hall, Oct. 7; The Pipers Ceilidh, Gaelic College, St. Ann’s, Oct. 8; Tunes for the Mira, Marion Bridge Community Centre, Oct. 8; Christmas Island Ceilidh, Christmas Island Fire Hall, Oct. 10; Songs from the Shore, St. Ann’s Bay United Church, Oct. 11; and Classical Celts, Arkandor, Groves Point, Oct. 8.
“The rest of the shows are moving really well, too,” adds Hayes, who points out that local residents are learning to avoid disappointment by booking early.
“It’s definitely changing. A lot of people were disappointed last year because shows they wanted to see sold out quickly,” with the majority of advance bookings coming from off-island.
Not that national and international bookings are down this year.
“No, I’d say they’re close to the same as last year,” when 49 per cent of audience members came from off Cape Breton Island, Hayes says.
Festival organizer Eleanor Anderson, of icon communications, says bookings have come from all Canadian provinces, several U.S. states, including Texas, California, Michigan, Virginia and New York, and the United Kingdom, Germany and Denmark.
With two weeks left to go, ticket sales are already on a par with the opening day of last year’s festival.
Anderson attributes the increase in sales to a strong talent lineup.
“People are buying tickets because the combination of shows and the artists represented is great. If the product wasn’t good enough the people wouldn’t be there,” she says.
“But we can’t forget the festival has been building on itself for four years. There seems to be more and more people planning their vacations around it and it’s interesting to note that we haven’t experienced the general downturn the tourism industry experienced this year.”
Organizers are especially excited about the Thanksgiving weekend Celtic Cabaret, which kicks off the festival Friday, Oct. 6, along with the Gala Opening Concert at the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay.
The cabaret, at Sydney’s Centre 200, will feature the music of Sydney Mines fiddler Kimberley Fraser, Cape Breton’s Barra MacNeils and Kilt, and the much-talked-about Danu, a young band from Ireland.
“The volume of talent for this show is absolutely amazing,” says Anderson. “These acts are perfect for a cabaret-style show. I think Danu are going to wow people. They were such a hit at this year’s Vancouver Folk Festival ˆ Slàinte Mhath were blown away by them.”
Tickets for the licensed cabaret and other Celtic Colours shows for which tickets remain may be purchased by phoning Select-a-Seat, 564-6668 or 1-888-355-7744. For tickets to Irish Roots, phone the Keltic Lodge directly at 285-2880.
For a complete listing of shows, check out the Celtic Colours website.
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