The Celtic Colours International Festival had another great year. The 12th annual festival, which took place in communities all over Cape Breton Island from October 10 to 18 created a great season for local businesses generating an economic impact of $4.5 million. In spite of a decline in tourism across the country, the festival sold 18,600 tickets, which is comparable to sales over the past few years. “Last year was a banner year and we almost reached 20,000 tickets, but 18-19,000 is our normal range so we’re delighted to be holding our own when so many events are experiencing major declines,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Scott, Chair of the Board of Directors.
As expected, the economic situation in the US resulted in fewer American visitors to the festival this year, but the good news is that 500 more Cape Bretoners were able to get tickets. Celtic Colours has a history and reputation for selling out shows, however, this year there were more tickets available in September and October than in the past few years and the local audience took advantage of that opportunity. The audience was made up of 50 percent locals and 50 percent visitors, which is ideal in terms of the long term viability of the festival. In fact, it achieves one of Celtic Colours’ strategic goals, which is to increase local audience numbers.
“It is essential to have a high percentage of Cape Bretoners attending the events if the festival is to survive in the long term,” said Artistic Director Joella Foulds. ” Our local audience is knowledgeable, enthusiastic and very hospitable. When they are in the room, the festival experience is richer and more authentic for the visitors.”
A major area of growth in 2008 was in education programs and community events with more than 265 events being offered in addition to the 47 concerts. These ranged from workshops and lectures to square dances and community suppers, reflecting many aspects of the local culture. Festival organizers worked with over 70 non-profit community groups who hosted the events that took place during the daytime or after the concerts. More than 10,000 people, both locals and visitors, attended these events.
In response to many requests from the public, Celtic Colours will be offering gift certificates this Christmas. They make excellent “home grown” gifts for family and friends and can be redeemed for tickets for the 2009 festival. The dates for 2009 are October 9 to 17. To purchase gift certificates call 562-6700.