Throughout the year, groups and communities across the Island organize events to celebrate any number of occasions, including the seasons, the arts, music, culture, heritage, and the harvest. Islanders spirit of community and appreciation of a good time mean that we are ripe for a festival of just about any kind, and at any time of year.
The fun usually begins in February, when communities across the Island hold their annual winter carnivals. Activities and dates vary among localities and from year to year, but participants can usually expect parades, winter sports, and evening entertainment; all designed to bring a little gaiety to the season and to dispel the winter doldrums wherever they may have set in.
Music takes centre stage at several festivals throughout the year. The Benevolent Irish Society Hall is the site of weekly ceilidhs featuring local performers of Irish, Scottish, and Island traditional music. Kicking off the summer festival season in May, various Charlottetown venues host major jazz and blues players from across Canada during the Summertime Jazz and Blues Festival. Island performers come under the spotlight during the Rustico Shindigs during July and August. The acoustically pure St. Marys Church in Indian River hosts the annual Indian River Festival in late-July/early August as well as the Sunday Evening Concert Series starting in late June and continuing to the end of July. Early August sees the annual Fiddlers and Followers weekend at Rainbow Valley in Cavendish, featuring huge fiddling shows presenting Maritime fiddle champions, step dancers, and great food. And the community of Rollo Bay is the Islands music destination, hosting the Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival in early July. Two weeks later, Rollo Bay Fiddlers Festival is held, which has seen regional musicians bending the bows to audiences delight since 1976. In addition, Island Gospel Fest is a daylong festival held at the end of August in Crapaud, which features individuals and groups playing a variety of music from Blue Grass to Contemporary.
Culture and heritage are the focus for many other events on the Island. Canada Day, on July 1, is always a time for celebration in communities throughout the province. Parades, entertainment, games, flag raising, and an evening fireworks display are par for the course in many localities celebrating the birthday of our nation. The Summerside Highland Gathering in late June offers a program of Celtic entertainmentceilidhs, fiddling, concertsas well as competitions for pipe bands, solo pipers and drummers, Highland and step dancers, and heavy-weight athletes. Later in the summer, Lord Selkirk Provincial Park, in Eldon, is the site of the annual Highland Games, which offers piping, dancing, and traditional athletic competitions, and concerts over three days. In turn, the Emerald Junction Irish Festival at the end of July promotes Prince Edward Islands Irish heritage and community spirit.
Communities and towns across the province celebrate the uniqueness of their corner of the earth through a multitude of local festivals. Since 1967, Kensingtons Community Harvest Festival has been celebrating and promoting the towns strong sense of community. The festival is Prince Edward Islands largest country fair, featuring Miss Community Gardens pageant, a baby pageant, street parade, road race, softball and golf tournaments, music and dancing contests, the provinces largest flower show, 4-H displays, and Womens Institute activities. This line-up is typical of community festivals such as the Souris Regatta (which also hosts the PEI Provincial Tug-of-War and Arm Wrestling Championships), the Morell Strawberry Festival, the Northumberland Provincial Fisheries Festival in Murray River, the Prince Edward Island Potato Blossom Festival in OLeary, the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival, the Crapaud Exhibition, the St. Peters Blueberry Festival and Homecoming, Montagues Community Festival, Albertons Prince County Exhibition, lExposition Agricole et Festival Acadien de la Region Evangeline (Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival), and the Prince Edward Island Ploughing Match and Agricultural Fair in Dundas, just to name a few. The provinces two larger community festivals are the weeklong Summerside Lobster Carnival in mid-July and, in Charlottetown, Old Home Week Provincial Exhibition, held in mid-August.