Douglas Cameron and Kristen Shaw play for a square set at the Normaway Inn, Margaree during KitchenFest!

ST. ANN’S: The young, island-wide traditional music festival is back for year four as The Gaelic College presents KitchenFest! taking place from July 1-7.

The annual celebration of Cape Breton-based Gaelic music gives locals and visitors alike an up-close and personal insight into this distinct and vibrant living culture, bringing the kitchen-ceilidh feel to the forefront.

This event takes place over seven days, in 30 venues, featuring 100-plus events, and with over 150 performers showcasing music, food, stories, and warm hospitality. Each of the over 60 live performances will feature a Gaelic-speaking host or hostess and happen all over Cape Breton. Fiddles and bagpipes, concerts and ceilidhs, Gaelic language and song, cheering and dancing, informality and hospitality all take the floor.

Over 95 per cent of the musical lineup is Nova Scotia-based and will include such performers as Ashley MacIsaac; Heather Rankin; J.P. Cormier; Gordie Sampson; Howie MacDonald; Beòlach; Evans and Doherty; Còig; McGinty; Goiridh Dòmhnullach; Andrea Beaton; Nuallan; Fileanta; and many more. Also included in the mix are youth performers, highlighted through the week during daily performances on-site at the Gaelic College. Featured for 2017 are Abigail and Brienne MacDonald from St. Andrew’s, Siobhan Beaton from Mabou, Elizabeth MacInnis from Mabou, and Jay MacDonald from Arisaig.

“We are excited to once again collaborate with island partners to showcase and celebrate some of what makes this part of the world so special,” says CEO and festival creator Rodney MacDonald. “The hope is to present a slice of what life is like here, while also creating some new opportunities for areas elsewhere on the island to connect with the local music culture.”

An Eat Local program was introduced in 2015 and hopes are for it to only grow bigger and better. Island restaurants and eateries are encouraged to feature dishes made with locally-grown ingredients during the week, with over 70 already on board for 2017.

Within the mix of venues, both private sector and community-run, entertainment can be found at the Brook Village Hall, the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique, the Glencoe Mills Hall, Granville Green in Port Hawkesbury, the Inverness Legion, the Mabou Community Hall, the MacBouch Restaurant & Lounge in St. Peter’s, Miller’s Tap & Grill in Port Hawkesbury, the Normaway Inn in the Margaree Valley, the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, the Southwest Margaree Hall, the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou, the West Mabou Hall, and the Whycocomagh Waterfront Centre.

On-site events at the Gaelic College throughout the week include an Opening Gala Concert with special guests the Men of the Deeps, community meals, daily lunchtime ceilidhs, cultural demonstrations, an afternoon pub with Ashley MacIsaac, and concerts with headline acts. The festival comes to a close with the KitchenFest! Kitchen Party, slated for Friday, July 7 from 11p.m. to 2 a.m.

Tickets are available on the Gaelic College Web site, and events throughout the island are paid at the door.

To view the complete schedule, visit: www.kitchenfest.ca.