Members of the band The Outside Track perform as part of the annual Sunset and Stars Gala as part of CeltFest.

Members of the band The Outside Track perform as part of the annual Sunset and Stars Gala as part of CeltFest.

Celtic traditions celebrated at festival

Don’t be surprised to see a flash of the tartan on Nanaimo streets next week.

Don’t be surprised to see a flash of the tartan on Nanaimo streets next week.

The annual CeltFest celebration of music and dance runs Saturday to Thursday (July 16-22) featuring some of the world’s finest Celtic musicians and dancers in North America.

“Everyone is invited to join in the celebration of Celtic Heritage Week and we’ll offer a peek beneath the Celt with impromptu performances throughout the community,” said artistic director Carolyn Cusson. “Our roving troupe of performers will take ceilidhs to senior centres and cafes around town, and you may catch a random ‘flash o’ the Celt’ on a city sidewalk when you least expect it.”

Classrooms at Vancouver Island University will be filled with the sound of pipes and drums as students learn not only the traditional Celtic music but also the many forms of dance.

In the evening, the faculty and students celebrate with performances in the school’s cafeteria.

Opening ceremonies at Maffeo Sutton Park start Saturday (July 16) at 4:30 p.m. and features music, dancing and traditional food. The Piper’s March leaves Diana Krall Plaza at 4:45 p.m. and heads to Maffeo Sutton. The event is free.

Entertainment continues Tuesday (July 19) with the Wacky Jig and Hornpipe Contest at VIU cafeteria. Tickets are $5.

“The evening is spontaneous and hilarious and we invite people of all ages to step up and show us their best jig or hornpipe, or just come and enjoy the show,” Cusson said.

On Wednesday (July 20), the Celtic women perform at Malaspina Theatre. Performing that night are Mary McLaughlin, Norah Rendell, Mairi Rankin, Eileen McGann, Ailie Robertson and Fiona Black. Tickets are $28.

The festival wraps up with the Sunset and Stars Gala July 21 at the Port Theatre.

More than 30 champion fiddlers, dancers, pipers and drummers, including James Troy of Victoria, Alex Gandy of Halifax and Trent Freeman of Comox, create a Celtic variety show.

This year’s headliner is the internationally acclaimed The Outside Track. Hailing from Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton and Vancouver, its five members are united by a love of traditional music and a commitment to creating new music on its foundation.

A special feature will be a Tribute to the Military Tattoo with a performance by the Pacific Tattoo Dance Team, comprised of dancers from all over B.C.

Tickets are $39; $29/children. Please call 250-754-8550.

For a complete schedule of events, workshops and ticket information, please visit www.celtfest.ca.