Streets will fill with flash ceilidhs during CeltFest

Sounds of pipes and stomp of feet will fill Victoria with Celtic feel


Don’t be surprised to suddenly see flash ceilidhs on the streets next week in Oak Bay.

A bit of the Celt will show up in surprise performances, though they’ll likely show up around noon and before dinnertime.

“We did this in Nanaimo with some success last year,” said Carolyn Phillips Cusson, producer of CeltFest.

Now in its 12th year, CeltFest comes to Victoria for the first time July 14 to 20. It will bring performing artists from around the world in a series of Celtic concerts, workshops and ceilidhs or Celtic jam sessions at the Canadian College of Performing Arts, 1701 Elgin Rd. in Oak Bay.

“They’re going to be roving type ceilidhs,” Cusson said, unwavering from the secrecy of what or who might do flash mob-style performances and where. “The whole idea of having the ceilidhs in the community is to get people interacting.”

The CeltFest concert series kicks off July 16, with Lori and Innes Watson: Scots Kith & Kin.

July 17, Ottawa fiddler/step dancer Stephanie Cadman, takes the stage with former World Champion Irish dancer, Owen Barrington. The festival’s Wacky Jig and Hornpipe Contest Family Night is July 18. Join students and faculty from CeltFest’s Summer School in a good-natured contest open to individuals. The only criteria are to play, sing, or dance to a jig and/or hornpipe. Entries should be submitted at the CeltFest office on site at the Canadian College of Performing Arts.

In a gala finish, Celtic cultures merge in the festival’s finale, the Sunset and Stars gala, Thursday, July 19, with champion fiddlers, dancers, pipers, and drummers, including Juno Award nominee Eileen McGann and master pipers Rene Cusson and Jamie Troy as well as headliner The Niamh Ní Charra Trio from Ireland.

“I was born in Victoria, the bulk of my piping over the years has been in Victoria,” said champion piper and co-producer Rene Cusson. “I’ve had a strong association. I was part of the original City of Victoria Pipe Band … It was very innovative. It was one of the world’s top pipe bands.

“Some of those fellows including Jamie Troy Jr. and Colin Magee are still on the (Greater) Victoria Police Pipe Band. It’s fun to get together with them and we’ll put on a good show together,” he added. “You sort of hit the ground running at festivals … you get this fusion and I think that’s one of the things that makes a festival a unique musical event. They haven’t worked the music to death.”

All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Canadian College of Performing Arts auditorium and the audience is invited to remain after each concert to participate in the ceilidh. Ticket prices range from $10 to $34. Visit for full schedule and ticket prices.

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