Kilts, Celts and Wizards launch the Quebec Celtic Festival

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Photo: Photo: Shirley Nadeau

The 78th Fraser Highlanders lead the Celtic Festival parade to the Morrin Centre.

The 6th annual Quebec Celtic Festival got underway with the opening parade on Saturday and it seems that the Celtic gods blessed the entire weekend with fantastic weather.

The parade was led by two pipe and drum bands: the 78th Fraser Highlanders of Quebec City and the Black Watch from Montreal. There were Breton Dancers, two groups of Irish dancers, and representatives of seven Celtic groups from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Breton and Galicia. Members of Clan Fraser, Clan Gunn, Clan Lindsay, and Clan MacNicol, as well as others sporting kilts of Quebec, Nova Scotia and Canada tartans, all marched proudly in the parade.

The day started with a "bang" at noon in Place d'Youville as a cannon was fired to officially begin the parade which made its way along rue St. Jean, and rue Ste. Anne to the Chausée des Écossais in front of the Morrin Centre.
Many people in the crowds lining the parade route followed the parade to the Morrin Centre on the chaussée des Écossais (or the "Road of the Scots") in the Old City to take part in the many activities happening both inside and outside the Morrin Centre.

Conferences and historic workshops on Celtic songs, the Bretons, and Scottish traditions and superstitions were held in College Hall. Guided tours of the old prison cells were given in English and in French throughout the afternoon.

Outside, there were displays by the Scottish clans, all the Canadian provincial tartans and the Canadian national tartan, and booths selling Scottish regalia, as well as a tasty variety of food and beverages.

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Les Tourbillons de Beauport gave Irish dance lessons under the trees next to St. Andrew’s Kirk Hall.

 

New this year was a special show for children featuring Argus the Wizard and the Mysterious Tower. Children and parents alike were held spell-bound by the actor playing the role of Argus as well as the various puppets-Plume the dragon, Violette the vegetarian plant, and Gong the door-knocker-as they tried to solve the mystery of the tower. There was also an area for children's activities with interesting interactive games.

If you ever had the urge to kick up your heels and learn how to dance Irish style, this was your chance! Les Tourbillons de Beauport, a local Irish dance troupe, gave a demonstration and dancing lessons under the trees next to St. Andrew's Kirk Hall.

All in all, it was a happy day for all concerned. The event was very well organized with lots of volunteers to help keep things running smoothly. Created six years ago by the Morrin Centre, an English-speaking cultural centre which houses the wonderful 187-year-old library of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, the Quebec Celtic Festival welcomes all Quebecers, no matter what their mother tongue may be, to participate. As the President of the Celtic Festival, Patrick Bourassa said, "If you look back far enough, almost everyone in Quebec has Celtic roots."

More events took place on Saturday evening, with Fest-Noz, a lively Breton dance party. On Sunday morning there was a Kirking of the Tartan ceremony and in the afternoon, a concert, in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church by Airsaig in collaboration with the Quebec International of Sacred Music. At noon there was a Celtic Banquet of roast boar! Activities continue throughout this week with whisky tastings at the Morrin Centre and conclude with the Natalie MacMaster concert at the Palais Montcalm on Saturday evening.