Prince Edward Island has an abundance of festivals and events that will tickle the fancy of any visitor.
On the island there are events celebrating everything from the beauty of sea glass to the indescribable taste of fresh shellfish. Jazz, bluegrass, Irish, Acadian and Scottish music are presented in special events and almost every day during the summer one can join a Ceilidh (Kaylee) in a community hall. These public kitchen parties include music that will set your feet atapping and Irish dancing that will set your eyes a reeling.
If you come to the Island in the early summer you can take in the Evangeline Bluegrass and Traditional Music Festival at Abram Village in Western PEI. It highlights the best in Acadian music from around the Maritimes.
The rest of the summer is chock-a-block with entertaining festivals. At the Festival of Small Halls held in mid June more than 35 community halls join in presenting a wide variety of traditional music, dance and storytelling. Attending one or more of these events is a great introduction to Island culture.
For fans of piping and Highland dancing the Summerside Highland Gathering is not to be missed. It is held annually in late June at The College of Piping & Celtic Performing Arts of Canada in Summerside, PEI. Be sure to check the program of the College at other times in the summer and take in a performance of their nightly presentation demonstrating the talents of the best of the college’s students.
The signature Island Festival is the Charlottetown Summer Festival. It has been a fixture on the Island for years. It includes Canada’s longest running musical, Anne of Green Gables. This very popular entertainment is but one of a variety of professional productions that invariably receive high reviews from visitors.
The PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival is held on Canada Day weekend in a large grassy field in Rollo Bay near Souris. This event draws large crowds. Many camp on the grounds so that they can take in all the performances and workshops.
For something completely different try Mermaid Tears Sea Glass Festival held in mid-July at the Wood Islands Lighthouse. The lighthouse grounds, adjacent to the Wood Islands ferry terminal, have a beach and an innovative play area for children. At the festival you can learn everything about sea glass and pick the minds of experts in collecting and using sea glass in jewellery. You can also find out what mermaid’s tears are.
In late July Atlantic Fiddlers’ Jamboree in Abram Village features the best of Acadian musicians and dancers.
And back in Charlottetown the PEI Blues and Jazz Festival held in mid-August has a packed program of concerts by a stellar line-up of jazz greats. A number of the performances are free as part of a summer street party.
To get a feeling for the agricultural heritage of PEI you cannot do better than take in the Dundas Plowing Match & Agricultural Fair, held in late August. It has all the feeling of an old time country fair.
If you want to sample the finest freshly harvested shellfish prepared by master chefs from PEI and elsewhere you must go to the Edward Island International Shellfish Festival. Here you can sample brilliant bisques, watch an oyster shucking contest and taste the work of contestants in a chowder making competition.
One of the most popular of Island festivals is the Fall Flavours Culinary Festival that runs throughout September. This festival celebrates the use of fresh Island ingredients in dishes prepared by a number of notable chefs. There are demonstrations and special meals including a lobster party and a clam bake.
Take in the events at an Island festival. No matter when you arrive in Canada’s smallest province there’s sure to be an event to entertain you.