Nova Scotia annually hosts some 600 festivals and, at first glance, you'd think 599 were devoted to food. June's Shelburne County Lobster Festival and July's Lobster Carnival in Pictou are followed by a Seafest in Yarmouth that celebrates all things fishy. Not to be outdone, Digby turns the spotlight on scallops in August. The farm-filled Annapolis Valley brackets the fishing season by offering an Apple Blossom Festival in May and Pumpkin Fest in October. Many other events, however, highlight the diversity of the Nova Scotian people. In June, a multicultural festival on the Halifax waterfront showcases more than two dozen ethno-cultural groups. Antigonish honors its Scottish heritage with the Highland Games in July, and there is a rollicking Acadian fête in Clare each August. Halifax focuses on a different type of diversity during its mid-summer LGBT Pride Week.
Music lovers have several festivals to choose from.
Celtic Colours International Festival. For nine days in early October, while fall colors are at their peak, Cape Breton showcases the very best Celtic musicians and dancers—international artists and homegrown talent—in more than three dozen island communities. Activities celebrating Gaelic language, lore, history, crafts, and culture complement the joyful sounds. www.celtic-colours.com.
Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. The centerpiece of Nova Scotia's signature festival is a fast-paced, two-and-a-half-hour extravaganza of military instruments (brass, bagpipes, and drums), military-inspired music, acrobatics, and traditional and modern music and dance performed by participants from around the world. The event, which takes place during the first week of July and includes other free concerts, parades, and other activities around town, marks its 35th anniversary in 2014. www.nstattoo.ca.
Scotia Festival of Music. This internationally acclaimed chamber-music festival unfolds in Halifax in late May and early June. Concerts take place at the Dalhousie Arts Centre. www.scotiafestival.ns.ca.
TD Halifax Jazz Festival. Musicians representing a variety of styles perform at this popular nine-day event held in early July. Some of the concerts are free. www.jazzeast.com.
Prefer more traditional tunes? Lunenburg and Wolfville stage folksy festivals in August and September, respectively. In October, Cape Breton pulls out the fiddles and pipes during the Celtic Colors International Festival, and the capital counters with the Halifax Pop Explosion.
Shoppers will enjoy the Lunenburg Folk Art Festival (www.nsfolkartfestival.com), in late July or early August.
Halifax International Busker Festival. Street performers are the stars of this 11-day waterfront event in early August. The line-up includes acts for audiences of all ages. www.buskers.ca.
Atlantic Fringe Festival. Various venues in downtown Halifax present alternative dramas, comedy, and other performances as part of this popular festival held in late August, early September, or both. www.atlanticfringe.ca.
Atlantic Film Festival. The output of Eastern Canada's burgeoning film industry is presented at this eight-day event held in Halifax in mid-September. www.atlanticfilm.com.
Digby Scallop Days. Knowing a good thing when they see (and taste) it, the townspeople of Digby honor the magnificent mollusk during this five-day festival in early August, replete with parades, fireworks, and food. www.digbyscallopdays.com.
Apple Blossom Festival. The beauty of the orchards provides reason enough to visit the apple-growing region in late spring, but this six-day, family-friendly festival in late May and early June heightens the experience with tours, a beauty pageant, concerts, art shows, and apple-themed food. Kentville, NS. www.appleblossom.com.
Halifax Pop Explosion. Nearly 200 bands take to various stages at one of Canada's most important music festivals. Other activities at the five-day event, which unfolds in late October, include the RecordZine and Label Fair, the Music Conference, and the Digital Conference. Halifax, NS. halifaxpopexplosion.com.
Halifax Pride. In July a huge rainbow flag flutters over downtown Halifax, heralding 11 days of gay-pride activities that include a parade, a theater festival, sports events, drag shows, comedy, disco parties, and concerts. Halifax, NS. www.halifaxpride.com.
Multicultural Festival. A three-day celebration of Nova Scotia's multicultural mix, this late-June event takes place at Halifax Seaport near Pier 21, where many immigrants first set foot on Canadian soil. Music, arts and crafts, shopping, and the smells and tastes of world cuisines make for a lively scene. Halifax, NS. www.multifest.ca.
Pictou Lobster Carnival. Celebrating its 80th year in 2014, this three-day festival in early July marks the end of its region's fishing season with concerts, parades, lobster-boat racing, and a midway and other attractions. Pictou, NS. www.pictoulobstercarnival.ca.
Seafest. Yarmouth honors its seafaring roots with 11 days of festivities in late July. Highlights include a street parade, mackerel tossing, driftwood-art contests, beach parties, concerts, fireworks, and a parade of illuminated boats. Yarmouth, NS. www.seafest.ca.
Shelburne County Lobster Festival. The county celebrates the local lobster industry in early June with four days of events, entertainment, and lobster suppers. Shelburne, NS. www.discovershelburnecounty.com/shelburnecountylobsterfestival.
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