Music is a part of Scotland’s soul, the heartbeat of the land. This article features a few of the highly popular music festivals which take place in Scotland, from Celtic Connections to Rockness. Please note that months provided are rough guides to give you a feel as to when the festival usually takes place, and that timings may vary.
Celtic Connections - January. This Glasgow festival has been running since 1994 and takes place close to the dawning of the year. Celtic Connections is a major event – more than two weeks of music, performances by global artists and emerging talent, talks, workshops and exhibitions. A great way to experience Glasgow, you could sample one event or wander the city’s streets and concert venues for most of the festival... If you are not able to make it do keep an eye out for Celtic Connections’ extensive media coverage.
Edinburgh International Harp Festival - April. A cornucopia of harp music and talent with concerts, workshops and courses amongst the cream of the international harp community. The festival is run by the Clarsach Society, the clarsach being an ancient, portable Celtic harp. A unique opportunity to explore harp music and instruments from Scotland and the wider world with experts in the field.
Hedridean Celtic Festival - July. The inaugural event took place in 1996, and this Lewis based festival boasts a roll call of fame. Artists who have performed at the festival, to name but a few, include the Davy Spillane, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Salsa Celtica, Van Morrison and The Waterboys. Most events take place in Stornaway, the island’s major town. The Isle of Lewis is home to many ancient sites including Callanish standing stones and Dun Carloway broch.
Loopallu - September. If you are good at word games you may have worked out that the venue for this festival is Ullapool (Loopallu being Ullapool backwards). A popular festival for Highland residents, Loopalu has attracted acts including Franz Ferdinand and Mumford & Sons. The journey from Inverness to Ullapool is one of the most stunning I have taken; the views alone are worth a visit – consider the music a bonus...
Orkney Folk Festival - late May. The first Orkney Folk Festival took place in 1983, a venture conceived as a good drawing card for tourists in the early summer months. The festival features some of the best of Orcadian and Scottish talent. Orkney, like Lewis, is home to some stunning ancient monuments including the prehistoric village of Skara Brae and the standing stones of the Ring o’ Brodgar.
Rockness - June. Fancy a modern music festival on the shores of Nessie’s loch? RockNess emerged in 2006 and has proved a hugely popular music festival. Mud, music and tears... Rock Ness won the NME Best Small Festival award in 2011 and 2012. Even though this event takes place in summer do note that Scottish weather can be fickle; the crowds may keep you warm, but save a corner of your rucksack for waterproofs...