Cape Breton is not just about scenery and sights: the Scottish Highlanders who settled much of the island in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (many as a result of the Highland Clearances, where they were forcibly evicted by landowners) brought with them strong cultural traditions and today these are best recalled by the island’s musicians, especially the fiddle players. Buddy MacMaster (1924–2014) was one of the greats, and current names to watch out for include his niece Natalie MacMaster, her cousin Ashley MacIsaac and the remaining members of the Rankin Family, not to mention Glenn Graham, Rodney MacDonald and Jackie Dunn – though it’s impossible to pick out the “best” as each fiddler has their own particular style. Local tourist offices will gladly advise you on gigs, whether it be a ceilidh, concert or square dance, and listings are given in the weekly Inverness Oran (w invernessoran.ca), a local newspaper available at tourist offices and convenience stores. During the summer there’s something happening almost every day – the Saturday night Family Square Dance at West Mabou Hall is especially well regarded (10pm–1am; $8). The largest festival is Celtic Colours (t 902 562 6700, w celtic-colours.com), with performances all across Cape Breton held over ten days in early to mid-October.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Canada features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best places to go in spring

The best places to go in spring

Springtime is beautiful, with its big blue skies and flowers in bloom, so there may be no better time to travel. If you're thinking about getting away, here are…

14 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Road trip Canada: 5 of the best routes

Road trip Canada: 5 of the best routes

Rugged and vast, Canada is a road-trippers dream. Driving gives you the freedom to travel at your own pace – pull over and drink in the scenery along the wa…

05 Dec 2016 • Stuart Forster insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month