A Trip to Prince Edward Island and the Charlottetown Festival Provides a Charm All Its Own
By Caitlin Leonard, Contributing Writer, July 25, 2016
Summertime often brings out our wanderlust and we look for reasons to travel to slightly out-of-the-way places to enjoy nature and all its beauty, and often there is a festival of some sort or other that provides the impetus for us to plan the trip in the first place. Our “neighbors to the north” provide some of the most beautiful places on this planet to visit and partake of their generous hospitality. Beloved by Canadians in the Atlantic Provinces, The Charlottetown Festival is a yearly draw to international visitors for the unique experience of visiting Prince Edward Island (PEI) and enjoying all it has to offer. While it will take a little bit of effort (and travel time) to get there—it’s about 14 hours of driving and anywhere from 4 to 8 hours of air travel, depending on your specific itinerary, the rewards are well worth the trouble. Some of special attractions that await you at the end of your journey are presented below.
Every summer The Charlottetown Festival presents a yearly tradition: the musical Anne of Green Gables. Based on the popular children’s book of the same name by Lucy Maude Montgomery, it tells the story of a red-haired orphan with an unstoppable imagination. The musical based on the novel has been playing every summer at The Confederation Centre in PEI’s capital, Charlottetown, since 1965 and is now in its Guinness-Record setting 52nd season. The musical has become a fun convention in the area—different every year with an ever-changing cast, and yet always has the same loved story and music. The score was written by Norman Campbell with lyrics and story by Don Harron, and thrills audiences from June to August with humour, dance, and universal themes of friendship and love. It is a surprise this well-kept secret hasn’t yet made it to Broadway!
Also included in this year’s Charlottetown Festival is a performance of the popular musical Mamma Mia! Another familiar and beloved story takes the stage in this unique PEI setting, and runs with daily performances until September 3rd.
Available until August 20th at The Confederation Centre are tours of Charlottetown with trained historical actors – giving information about the city as the “Birthplace of Canada,” in 1864’s Charlottetown Conference. Take a theatrical journey and interact with important figures in Canadian history, such as its first Prime Minister, John A. McDonald, as the historical district in Charlottetown comes alive before your eyes.
While on tour of the island a visit to the original Green Gables house is available to anyone who is interested! The house the book is based upon, which has since 1908 sold 500 million copies worldwide, is available for tours until Labour Day. Imagine the story of Anne and her friends while taking in an important piece of history about PEI and its most beloved author, Lucy Maude Montgomery.
The beauty of PEI is unparalleled because it is impossible to find elsewhere. Its red roads and sands are due to a high amount of iron oxide in the soil, and this creates an unforgettable experience during the summer on red beaches. A popular one is at Basin Head Provincial Park, which was named the best beach in Canada by Canadian travel website vacay.ca. Build sandcastles, splash in the water, and soak up some rays on the soft sands. Camping is also often available nearby the beaches all over the island for an outdoor adventure.
Enjoy an evening of the freshest world-class dining overlooking one of PEI’s beautiful beaches while enjoying the best the island has to offer. At one of PEI’s many restaurants enjoy locally sourced lobster – as fresh as it gets, and PEI potatoes grown in the red soil, for a unique flavour. Well-known for their seafood buffet and 60 salad bar is Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Supper, located in beautiful North Rustico, PEI, about a half an hour drive from Charlottetown. Located near the beaches of PEI’s National Park, it is well worth a short trip to experience the natural beauty of this part of the island.
While on break from taking in a performance at the Charlottetown Festival, a stop at a nearby downtown Cow’s Ice Cream is highly recommended, especially on a hot summer day. The ice creamery started in 1983 in Charlottetown and their 32 flavors are made with the finest local ingredients available. Known for their quirky Cow’s clothing line, this is definitely a memorable must-try stop on any visit to PEI. To order some of their merchandise, click here.