Renting a house in Stanhope, the oldest Scottish settlement on Prince Edward Island, we have been surrounded by Celtic culture. In fact, 45% of the island’s residents are of Scottish descent and 25% are of Irish descent. So when we heard about the College of Piping in Summerside and its highly regarded Highland Storm evening spectacular, we knew it was an opportunity too good to pass up.
The College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada is the only institution of its kind in North America. Here 350 year-round students take classes in Highland bagpiping, Scottish-style drumming, Highland dance, and Island step dancing. The Highland Storm event is a summer showcase for the talents of the students and staff, and their talent is impressive to say the least.
While we were expecting an entertaining evening of Celtic music and dance, we were truly impressed by how family-friendly the whole experience was. We arrived about 45-minutes early to get good seats, but there was plenty going on to keep even the youngest of us entertained. Waiting in line for tickets we were treated to live bagpiping out in front of the College, and traditional music played inside the building as well. People from all levels of the College, including the Executive Director, then greeted us with smiles and words of welcome as entered the covered outdoor theater. We took our seats on a section of padded benches to the left of the stage, with an open space in front for the younger Fives to dance around as we waited for the show to begin.
The Highland Storm itself had something for everyone, young and old alike. High-energy with plenty of traditional costumes, it provided a wonderful mix of music, dancing, and even comedy.
The pictures of course can’t do the performance justice. To get a somewhat better feel, the College of Piping’s YouTube channel has highlights from the show as well as their performance at Dalvay by the Sea for Prince William and Princess Kate in 2011. Our evening definitely left a lasting mark on all of us, and the younger Fives are already talking about enrolling in the school when they get older. If that means more chances to see the College of Piping perform, that is just fine with us.