21st Hebridean Celtic Festival, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides of Scotland, 14 – 17 July 2016.
MSPs have congratulated organisers of the Hebridean Celtic Festival for the most successful event in its 21-year history. The four-day festival’s 18,000 attendance figure was the biggest to date. It was the highest grossing festival in terms of sales, with tickets selling faster than at any time before and most shows were fully booked weeks in advance. The festival also staged more than 70 hours of performances in the main arena, at An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway and in rural venues in Lewis and Harris, making it the biggest programme ever, while onsite trading hugely increased on last year.
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart has now tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament acknowledging the success. The motion, which “acknowledges the massive boost that this event has given to the fragile island economy, and wishes all concerned every success in the planning of the 2017 event”, has been signed by a number of fellow MSPs. Festival director Caroline Maclennan said: “This year’s event was an outstanding success and we are delighted all the hard work by so many people to make it work has been recognised in this motion.”
Scottish rock legends Runrig brought the festival to a close on Saturday night with a memorable concert which keyboard player Brian Hurren said was one of the top gigs the band have ever done. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Hayseed Dixie, Astrid, Julie Fowlis, King Creosote, Eddi Reader, John McCusker and Breabach were also among the line-up of stars that thrilled the international audience.
Over the four days Stornoway and the surrounding villages were crammed with visitors from across the UK, Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, filling hotels, guest houses and campsites in the area. Over half the audience came from outside the Hebrides, demonstrating again the festival’s importance to the tourism industry, with non-UK visitors making up six per cent of the total.
HebCelt has grown from a small event attracting less than 1,000 fans, to an international showpiece for roots, Celtic and traditional music. It is estimated it has generated more than £20 million for the local economy over two decades.
Early Bird tickets for next year’s festival - to be held from 19-22 July 2017 - are now on sale via the HebCelt website.
Photo Credits: (1) Red Hot Chilli Pipers, (3) Hayseed Dixie (by Jim Hope); (2) Bruce Guthro (Runrig), (4) Rura (by Fiona Rennie); (5) Skipinnish, (7) Sandy Brechin & Eddi Reader (by Leila Angus); (6) John McCusker & Duncan Chisholm (by Colin Cameron).