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Prince Edward Island's cultural pastimes

Road Trip: Best-bet secrets of P.E.I.


When we vacation on Prince Edward Island, we go with relaxation in mind. A week -- or 10 days if we can manage it -- are just what we need to recharge. So we tend to devote ourselves to quiet pastimes and spend our days reading, walking the beach, cooking up new seafood recipes and enjoying the beautiful scenery right outside the door of our rented cottage.

But even leisurely vacations need a little activity, so we usually manage a break from R&R to enjoy some local music and theatre. We're not serious culture vultures but for us no trip to PEI is complete without a going to a ceilidh, visiting our favourite painter and checking out the local theatre offerings. Keep in mind that the island is alive with choices for things to do. The activities mentioned here are simply the things we have made part of our vacations.

The ceilidh: You'll find them all over the Island, so regardless of what part of the province you've settled in there is likely to be one or two nearby. For those who aren't familiar, a ceilidh is a gathering or party, alive with fiddle music, songs and storytelling. Most are held in community centres or church halls and from our experience are packed every evening with local residents and tourists alike. Songs are usually traditional ones and audience participation is a must.

The favourite painter: We 'discovered' Tony Diodati's gallery on one of our first trips to the Island and each year we stop in to see what he's added. For us Tony's work captures the beauty of P.E.I. perfectly and many of his paintings are of our favourite corners of the province. His gallery is located near New London on the north shore and is open from May to October. Go to to view his work.

The local theatre: Both Charlottetown and Summerside boast professional, nationally acclaimed theatre but for us, visiting the village of Victoria-by-the-Sea on the island's south shore and going to the Victoria Playhouse is an annual must! Located in the historic Victoria Hall, the theatre was founded in the 1980s and each season offers live theatre and performance events, with an emphasis on Canadian plays and music. Over the years we've enjoyed some delightful evenings and have developed a great appreciation for the wonderful Island talent. We usually manage to include dinner before or after the performance and our current favourite spot to dine in Victoria-by-the-Sea is the Landmark Café. To see what's happening at the Playhouse visit

New this year: Certainly not new to the Island but a new addition to our cultural experience was an evening at the Indian River Festival. The Festival runs from June to late August and features talented Canadian artists. There is a wide variety of music on offer and it's all held in the beautiful, historic St. Mary's Catholic Church near the town of Kensington. We took in an evening of opera, which was a new experience for us. We were thrilled at the music and the setting and will definitely make this a regular evening out when we visit P.E.I. again. To learn more about the annual Festival, check out the website at

Roslyn Ralph is an occasional contributor to CarTest!

Posted Sept. 7, 2008. ©


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