My son’s eyes were as wide as saucers and shining bright. His smile was equally huge as he giggled and tried to keep up with the final dance. We were singing a different language and danced in circles around each other, but the laughter will be a memory that we will never forget!
It was the closing dance at our Beggars Banquet within the Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia. We had travelled 6377 kilometres to celebrate Canada Day in one of the Nation’s oldest fortresses, and by the look on my son’s face, I knew that our trip was a success. Dressed in full period costume and with a full belly of Atlantic seafood, a local band lead us on the adjacent stage for a final closing and goodbye. A room full of strangers had come together as one to celebrate Canada on her birthday. We drank, we danced, and we celebrated Canada Day as it had been done for over 150 years!
What is a Beggar’s Banquet?
A Beggar’s Banquet is an 18th century dining experience. Before you head into the main banquet hall you’re dressed in full period costume, even the kids were transformed into children from the 1740’s! Once dressed, you’re welcomed to head down and meet up with your fellow beggars, where you’ll dine on a fabulous meal of East Coast delights accompanied with all the fixings. Throughout the meal you’ll be entertained by local musicians and encouraged to get up on stage to share any special talents. After spending the day at the Fortress of Louisbourg, the Beggars Banquet was the perfect way to wrap up our Fortress experience.
Appropriate Attire Required
You can not attend the Beggars Dinner without the appropriate attire! As soon as we arrived we were each fitted up with our own special costume, including special kids costume! The kids were a little unsure and not used to having mom and dad play dress up too! My daughter was especially concerned, worried that we were going out to dinner like this and that no one else would be donning the same attire! She was relieved when we went down to the main hall and were met by 100 other Beggars!
Walking into the main hall was like stepping back in time. The replicated space was embellished with local decor including ships wheels, muskets, brass mugs, and wooden long tables.
Pass the Mic!
The band kicked off the night with traditional Nova Scotia classics, setting the tone and the mood for the evening. We especially enjoyed their regular call outs to the crowd to join them on stage to perform… whether you were a singer or played the spoons it was clear that the microphone belonged to the community and their tradition was to share it.
Delicious East Coast Food
When we booked our dinner we were given the options of chicken, halibut, crab or lobster. Having hard decisions to make we chose to order one of each and we all shared our meals. My son was thrilled to get a lobster, but I quickly learned that it wasn’t because he wanted to eat it, he was just excited to tear it apart and play with it! This meant more lobster for us and WOW was it delicious (and I don’t like seafood!)
The One and Only “Sebine”
A true highlight of the night was meeting Sebine… a hustler with a “big hiney” whose main goal was to flirt with the men and make everyone blush. She even had my six-year-old son glowing a nice shade of red when she asked him to dance… my husband, however, stepped in and took one for the team! Our kids think that the song “I like big butts” was written for her!
When the evening adventures were over we carried our sleepy children to the car as their little legs were tired from spending so much time on the dancefloor. The laughter, the lobster and the Canadian community made our night at the Beggar’s Dinner one we will never forget!