The Gathering of the Clans has become the traditional way to spend Canada Day in Cumberland County. It is a party, Scottish style, with piping, drumming, highland dancing, highland games, artisans, midway, concerts, food and artisan vendors.
Early in the morning, local and international highland dancers take to the Eaton Park stage for ScotDance sanctioned competitions. Lovers of Pipes and Drums will enjoy the ACPBA sanctioned competitions on the grounds of the national historic site, Thinkers Lodge. At the Cyrus Eaton Elementary School, steely muscled men dressed in their kilts, toss the caber and compete in other heavyweight highland games. Many of these competitors are Canadian and international champions at their sport.
When the pipe and drum band competitions are over, all musicians form a massed band which will march up Water Street as far as the Village Hall. Band prizes are then awarded. This will be at about 4pm.
The official opening is at 2 pm in Eaton Park, when local, Provincial and Federal representatives are led to the stage by a bagpiper to officially declare the Gathering of the Clans open!
Enjoy a wide range of food and then take in a wonderful afternoon of entertainment in Eaton Park. Wrap up the day by attending the evening's special stage show featuring the best of Maritime musicians and a spectacular Canada Day fireworks display over the waters of Pugwash Harbour.
Entertainers from the area entertain through the afternoon and evening, with internationally known entertainers headlining for the evening on Eaton Stage in Eaton Park.
2019 Entertainment line-up:
Christine Martin and Dale Murray
Recent headliners have included: JP Cormier, Lennie Gallant, Sons of Maxwell, Scott Macmillan & Brian Doyle, Matt Minglewood, Evans & Doherty and Rawlins Cross. The bands play until the fireworks are set off at dusk.
The Gathering of the Clans is a gated event. This allows us to keep the festival going with enough left over to donate to local non profit organizations, such as the hospital auxiliary. The Gates open at 8am and close at 9pm. The entrance fee is $5 for adults, $3 for students 5-12yrs and under 5s come in for FREE! There's lots to see and do for everyone in the family - all this just for 5 bucks!?
Traditional Canada Day events go on at the same time as the Gathering, with the Grand Parade at 10am and stupendous fireworks at dusk (about 10pm). The Parade winds its way along the village streets lined with throngs of people. We fill our parade with pipe and drum bands, floats, fire trucks, clowns, horses and surprises. Canada Day events are FREE
This Scottish festival started in 1951 when four local men, Bill Wilson, Bill Fillmore, Alex Walsh and Herbert Smith wanted to fund raise for the new local Red Cross Hospital. The Gathering became renowned for its highland dancing competition. In 1957, an Act of Nova Scotia Legislature incorporated the "Gathering of the Clans and Fisherman's Regatta." They chose to hold the events on Dominion Day (now Canada Day) as there were already holiday events being held that day.
The Gathering of the Clans is held every July 1st, unless that day falls on a Sunday, as it did in 2018, in which case it is held on July 2nd.
Everyone is welcome - come out and help us in 2019 celebrate the 68th anniversary of the Gathering of the Clans in beautiful Pugwash by the sea!