Nova Scotia is a wonderful place for visitors to enjoy nature at its best. If you are a music lover as well as a natural world enthusiast, Nova Scotia is renowned also for its plentiful and varied musical events. Put together the wonderful locations and the eclectic musical roots that come together in modern Nova Scotia and you have a recipe for musical inspiration.
The Halifax Jazz Festival (the new name for the prestigious Atlantic Jazz Festival) is an annual summer event. Set near the Halifax water front, it is the largest summer festival in the region, bringing around 55,000 music fans each year. Previous years’ line ups have included Robert Glasper, The Pharcyde, Dr John and the Nite Trippers and Lauryn Hill. Entrance for the event is by Festival pass, but the festival organisers commit to putting on a number of free daytime concerts on the Waterfront stage. In a quest to make music accessible to all, they also run a music education programme which includes a year-round Creative Music Workshop.
‘A hidden gem of a Jazz Festival in a setting that’s hard to beat! So many free pop-up concerts as well as professionally staged concerts’ is how the festival is described by an enthusiastic reviewer on Facebook. Halifax, which could be described as the festival centre of Nova Scotia, is also home to the
Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. As the name suggests, a large element of the festival is military music, with two and a half hours of entertainment by marching bands, dancers, bagpipe players and acrobats. Performances of the colourful tattoo, known as the world’s biggest indoor show, take place in late June into early July.
Cape Breton Island is the venue for the Celtic Colours International Festival. Begun in 1997, the festival takes place for nine days each October. Perhaps partly due to being an island, Cape Breton has maintained cultural influences brought by its various settlers, including the Aboriginal Mi’kmaq peoples and Scottish settlers. Because it has such a full schedule, events take place simultaneously in several venues, so it is important for visitors to plan their musical highlights. These include both local talent and world-class musicians, dancers, singers and story tellers.
Additionally, festival-goers can take part in workshops and attend presentations to learn about the cultural history, traditions and crafts. The location for the annual 3-day Stan Rogers Folk Festival (Stanfest to aficionados) is the rather small town of Canso, population just 1,250. Nevertheless, the festival, which has won several East Coast music awards, attracts over 10,000 music fans.
Like the Celtic Colours festival, it first started in 1997. Named as tribute to the late Canadian singer / songwriter Stan Rogers, it stages folk, blues and traditional music from around the world. Because of the town’s size, any accommodation bookings are virtually impossible less than a year in advance. Some residents offer a room, through websites such as Airbnb; but accommodation consists mainly of camping sites, most set up specifically for the festival.
Not a booking to leave until the last moment!