Nova Scotia and Cape Breton native Kimberley Fraser has spent the past few months fiddling her way across North America, Scotland and Scandinavia. She’s back home where she’ll be joining other musicians as they tour Cape Breton for the Celtic Colours Festival (October 11 to 19). As one of the artists in residence, she’ll also be presenting her major work String Crossings.
Island Arts Café
Adjacent to the Cape Breton Fudge Company (try the fudge made with local whiskey) in Sydney, this spot brings in lesser-known travelling acts to the island. Fraser even played an acoustic set here with fellow Artist in Residence, Danish fiddler Herald Haugaard, last winter. “I love that you can get a cup of tea and cookie, or some gourmet fudge, and settle in for a good show,” she says. “It’s the perfect venue for discovering new acts, local and otherwise.”
This North Sydney restaurant strays from the typical meat and potatoes menu that you’ll find elsewhere in Cape Breton, says Fraser. Dishes like Cajun seafood and lobster pot pie showcase the best of local seafood, and even their dessert menu has a selection of homemade sweets. “I remember thinking that their custard-filled hardened meringue with berries on top was one of the most fabulous desserts I’ve ever had.”
The Red Shoe Pub
Named for native son Dan R. MacDonald’s first composition, this Mabou pub features live fiddle music almost every night of the week. Oenophiles will appreciate the opportunity to try some Nova Scotia wines from Jost Vineyards while beer lovers will want to opt for the local beer on tap. Fraser recommends the Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout, a full-bodied organic brew with chocolate and coffee undertones from Cape Breton’s Big Spruce Brewery. “It’s really fantastic,” she raves.
The Louisbourg Playhouse
Originally built two decades ago by Disney for the filming of Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale, the town of Louisbourg bought this Shakespeare-inspired theatre (think the Globe in London) for a dollar when production on the movie ended. “When you’re playing here, you have to look all around you because there’s an audience at your back,” says Fraser, “It’s got great sound.”