Cape Breton Island’s story is told in many ways. It’s etched in her craggy cliffs. Written in the trails that marble her face. Spoken in three languages and celebrated in her music and dance.Let us be your guide and experience over two decades celebrating Celtic Music with the Celtic Colours Festival.
Arrive at Halifax. airport meet & greet. transfer to hotel directly in the down town core and eight minutes’ walk to the water front at the four and a half star “Halifax Hotel”. Enjoy an orientation/familiarization tour around the historic core of the city. where your hotel is located. balance of the day at leisure with an evening sailing around Halifax Harbour at dusk on Nova Scotia Van Tours.
Day One -To Cape Breton
Following breakfast, we'll head for Cape Breton. Our first stop will be in Truro so we can learn about our 'First Nation's Peoples', the Mi'Kmaq. We'll travel across the Canso Causeway - a 1,385 m rock-filled roadway crossing the Strait of Canso, with two vehicle lanes of traffic and a single railway track. It is the deepest causeway in the world, with a depth of 213 feet. The word "Canso" is believed to be derived from the Mi'kmaq word kamsok, which means "opposite the lofty cliffs".
We'll stop at the Cove Motel Restaurant for a great lunch and super views of the Causeway.
Following lunch, we’ll make our way to Baddeck following along the beginnings for the fabled Bras D’or lake. Entering Baddeck we’ll make time for a visit the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. This national historic site communicates the story of Alexander Graham Bell's wide-ranging interests and inventive work, much of it undertaken in Baddeck. The site boasts about 10 hectares overlooking Baddeck Bay, on Bras d'Or Lake, and Beinn Bhreagh, Bell's summer home, where Bell pursued much of his scientific work. The museum commemorates and interprets the work of Alexander Graham Bell and his associates and also functions as a centre for the study of Bell's scientific and humanitarian work, as illustrated by the artifacts and documents preserved there. We'll spend the evening in Baddeck and ready for the opening night for the festival.
Day Two - Cabot Trail
Today, we'll spend most of the day traveling the world-famous Cabot Trail. The Cabot Trail is one of the best road trips in the world and winds through stunning landscapes, along the Margaree River and through the spectacular rugged highlands of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The trail was named after Italian explorer John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) who reached our shores in 1497, sailing on a mission for King Henry VII of England. The name also celebrates the meeting of Cabot and the Mi'kmaq people, the original inhabitants of Cape Breton Island.
The Cabot Trail, completed in 1932, joined previously isolated fishing villages along approximately, a 300 km loop. Today, the Cabot Trail connects eight major communities with intriguing histories, including Acadian, Irish and Scottish settlements.
Options for this day include visiting the Gaelic College, Whale watching in one of the best spots in Nova Scotia for viewing whales on the Gulf of St. Lawrence or taking time to visit various Artisan shops along the trail.
We’ll return to Baddeck and ready for the evenings concert.
Day Three – Highland Village Iona
Following a leisurely breakfast, we'll depart for Highland Village in Iona.
Experience Nova Scotia's Gaelic culture Highland Village Museum. Today we’ll view some of the most breathtaking scenery that this Province has to offer on the shores of the mighty Bras d’Or and the Iona Peninsula is well worth that visit. The Iona Peninsula is located in the centre of Cape Breton Island, almost completely surrounded by the magnificent Bras d'Or Lakes - Canada's Only Inland Sea. The Bras d'Or is a 1,098 km2 (424 sq. mi.) basin* that is one of the finest sailing and boating venues in the world. They separate Cape Breton's Highlands and Lowlands. The Bras d'Or coastline abounds with wildlife and is particularly noted as a breeding area of the magnificent bald eagle. We’ll take in some extensive views of this area before traveling to the
The Iona area is rich in Gaelic heritage. It was first settled in the early 1800's by MacNeil’s from the Island of Barra in Scotland. Donald 'Og' MacNeil spotted Iona during his service with the British Army. On a trip back to Barra, Donald 'Og' told his family and friends of the advantages of the Iona area; "Besides the fuel in the forests, water in the ground, and fish in the sea, you will find there more shelter from the North wind, better and earlier ripening harvests, and good fishing ground." Donald 'Og' came back to Canada to fight in Louisbourg in 1758 and Quebec City in 1759, where he died. His message was followed. In 1800 four MacNeils from Barra arrived at Iona. Several years later two of Donald 'Og's own sons also settled here. Today, the MacNeils' and MacKenzies, the MacLeans and MacDonald’s, and the Gillises and Campbells "All Call Iona Home.” We’ll learn about how these families lived with a visit to the Baile nan Gàidheal | Highland Village, an outdoor living history museum that tells the story of Gaelic settlement in Nova Scotia. We are located on a stunning 43-acre property overlooking the majestic Bras d’Or Lakes in Iona.11 historic buildings are staffed by costumed animators who are passionate about sharing the Gaelic culture of their ancestors. A favourite of Nova Scotia Van Tours and internationally acknowledged for advancing research, fostering appreciation, learning and sharing authentic Gaelic language and heritage while serving a vibrant Gaelic cultural community. Before returning to Baddeck we can make our way through spectacular scenery to Bras d' Or Look-off which will allow for amazing views of the Bras d'Or lakes before returning to Baddeck to ready for this evenings concert.
Day Four – Fortress Louisbourg & the Marconi Trail
Our first stop of the morning will be at the National Historic Site, Fortress Louisburg.
Fortress Louisbourg is an intimate part of the fabric of Nova Scotian history, involving French, English, American, and Mi'kmaq peoples. It has been called the 'Gibraltar of North America’ and in 1928, Fortress Louisbourg was proclaimed a National Historic Site and in 1961, the Government of Canada began to reconstruct one-fifth of Louisbourg, using the original blueprints to recreate identical building units. Today, it's the largest fortress re-construction site in North America, with over 25 open buildings for you to explore.
During your visit, you will find dozens of costumed animators who portray the residents of 1744. Period costumes and exhibits line the streets and along the busy waterfront. See how the wealthy elite lived, contrasting to the very different life experienced by the poor. We will provide you with a private, one-hour, guided tour of this Fortress, then you will have ample time to explore the unique site on your own.
We'll be dining in Louisbourg, so bring your hunger to one of the 18th-century restaurants. The food is fresh and plentiful, the recipes are from the 18th-century and the atmosphere is New France in the New World! Hotel De la Marine is a busy waterfront tavern and where mariners, soldiers and fishermen would have supped, with only a spoon on the table. Grandchamps is another lively waterfront cabaret or perhaps you would prefer L'Epee Royale, which recreates the atmosphere and menu of a comfortable inn, an upscale eatery where the tavern crowd rarely ventured…and a place where you can show your proper breeding and eat with a full set of cutleries!
Time considered and based on your interest we’ll leave Louisbourg behind travelling through some spectacular scenery, we'll head to Glace Bay to visit the Miners Museum, home of 'Men of the Deeps'. We'll tour this mine, take a trip underground and learn first-hand, from miners themselves, what this harsh life was like.
We'll return to Baddeck for this evenings concert.
Day Five – Celtic Sounds and a “Wee Dram”
Following breakfast we'll meander our way to Judique to visit the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre. Explore the centre and our Celtic musical heritage then enjoy a ‘lunch time ceilidh'.
Leaving Judique and just north of Mabou is the Town of Glenville where you'll find a true gem of Cape Breton, the Glen Breton Distillery. Renowned for its rare Canadian Single Malt Whisky, the only single malt whisky made in Canada, produced by using traditional copper pot stills method and only three ingredients: barley, yeast and water. (It cannot be called 'Scotch' unless it is produced in Scotland, hence the name, Canadian Single Malt Whisky). Glen Breton offers a guided tour of their operation, a fine restaurant, walking trails.
We’ll return to Baddeck for this evening’s concert.
Day Seven – Beautiful islands
Today following breakfast we’ll be heading to Cape Bretons only winery, Eileanan Brèagha Winery.
As Nova Scotia's northernmost estate winery, Eileanan Brèagha (Scottish Gaelic for beautiful islands), the vineyard was named in homage to the owner's Gaelic heritage and for the majestic view of the numerous small islands in the Bras d'Or Lakes. Enjoy, what has been said to be, "the most stunning vineyard vista in the Province" with a little island in every glass!"
Wine making in Cape Breton is relatively new, but tea drinking is a long-standing tradition! We'll pop into Rita MacNeils Tea room to enjoy some true island tea hospitality. We'll continue on to St. Peter's, where we'll cross St Peter's Canal - the only functioning lock system in Nova Scotia.
Returning to Baddeck for our last evening of concerts before departing for Halifax the next day.
Day Six – Halifax Bound
Following breakfast and Depending on your requests and timing provided we can take a different route to Halifax and We'll follow the Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee, a Gaelic word meaning party or gathering) Trail along the shoreline of the Gulf of St Lawrence. The roadway clings to a rugged shoreline (Saint George's Bay of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, “Canada's in-land sea”) and skirts along the thickly-wooded, mountainous and rough terrain of central Cape Breton Island (Creignish, Big Ridge Mountains and Mabou Highlands). The scenery here is spectacular. We'll be passing places such as Port Hood, Mabou, Glenville, Dunvegan, St. Rose, Chimney Corner and Margaree Harbour, with breathtaking scenery and stunning seascapes found around every turn in the road.
Once again, we'll cross the Canso Causeway back onto the mainland and head for home. Hoarse from singing and toe-tapped out, we won't be offended if you doze off on our return journey.We'll return to Halifax in time for your evening meal.
At the appropriate time we’ll transfer you and yours to the Halifax International Air Port and bid you farewell with fond memories of Nova Scotia.
Each evening, during Celtic Colours, an after-hours (11pm) party is held at Colaisde Na Gàidhlig / The Gaelic College, St. Ann's
This tour can be combined with our other N.S. based Day tours prior to the Celtic Colours Festival dates, the choices abound.
Contact us today for your quote on this private, pre-booked fully narrated packaged tour today !