Tourism award is music to ears of festival organisers

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The internationally acclaimed Hebridean Celtic Festival has capped another successful year by winning a prestigious tourism award.

The four-day event, which was held from 16-19 July in Stornoway, won the Best Event or Festival category at the annual Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards held on Friday 7 November.

HebCelt now automatically becomes a finalist at the Scottish Thistle Awards 2015, along with the front-runners from the North East, Central South East and Central South West regional heats.

HebCelt, which will mark its 20th anniversary next year, has a major economic and cultural impact on Lewis and the wider islands community.

It is a passionate supporter of the Gaelic language and of young, emerging talent as well as traditional music.

This year’s festival staged its biggest ever programme of 40 acts, headlined by Big Country, Levellers and Donnie Munro.

A huge influx of music fans from overseas made up half the estimated 14,000-strong audience which provided a major economic boost for the islands.

The figure was close to last year’s record-breaking attendance and almost 17 per cent up on 2012.

Caroline Maclennan, the festival director, said (suggested): “Winning this major award is another major achievement in what has been a very rewarding year.

“Recognition of this nature is a fitting tribute for all the hard work done by an army of volunteers who help ensure HebCelt continues to grow and thrive.”

The HebCelt team at the awards’ ceremony.