TICKETS for this year’s award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival are selling at more than double the rate of last year, helped by demand from overseas.
With three months still to go, organisers of the four-day flagship event based in Stornoway in the island of Lewis say they are delighted with the early level of interest, particularly from international music fans.
Last year HebCelt attracted an audience of over 14,000, 46 per cent of whom were visitors to the area, including fans from across Europe and North America.
So far this year over 70 per cent of tickets sold are going to off-island fans from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and all around the UK.
The event is set to deliver another economic boost for Stornoway with an appeal being made already to residents to help accommodate visitors with beds already at a premium during festival week.
HebCelt, which runs from 17-20 July, marks its 18th anniversary this year with headliners Van Morrison, Dougie MacLean, Capercaillie, The Battlefield Band and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.
Festival Director Caroline MacLennan said: “It is encouraging that we are experiencing a higher than normal demand at this time. I hope this is a trend we will continue to see over the coming months.
“HebCelt has always attracted an international audience and it is gratifying that its popularity among our overseas fans is growing. While tickets are still available, we would advise those who are planning to come book their tickets in good time to avoid disappointment.”
Such is the interest in this year’s festival that residents in Lewis have been asked much earlier than usual to make beds available to supplement accommodation in hotels and guest houses.
Alastair Lockett, VisitScotland’s visitor services team leader for the Outer Hebrides, said: “We are already at the stage where most of the accommodation in Stornoway is full during HebCelt which shows what a major attraction it is.
“The festival is internationally renowned and attracts people from all over the world which is good for the town and the islands in general as many festival goers visit other places as well.
“We are expecting further enquiries as the event gets nearer and we need help from local people to ensure everyone is found a bed.”
“If anyone is able to offer good quality accommodation and friendly Hebridean hospitality between 17th-20st July, please contact the VisitScotland Information Centre, 26 Cromwell St, Stornoway Tel: 01851 703088.”
An additional ferry will be operating the day after HebCelt to take festival goers back to the mainland from Stornoway.
Martin Dorchester, managing director of CalMac Ferries Ltd, said: “We fully recognise the importance of the HebCelt Festival to Stornoway and the Western Isles and are always happy to play our part in making it as successful as possible.
“We are therefore pleased to be able to once again schedule an extra sailing for the morning of July 21st to help festival-goers get home safely. “
This year’s HebCelt line-up also includes Karine Polwart, Darrell Scott, Pete Roe, Paddy Callaghan, and local artists Iain Morrison, The Boy who Trapped the Sun and Face the West, as well as Dundee’s Anderson, McGinty, Webster, Ward & Fisher; Lau, voted ‘Best Group’ at this year’s Radio Two Folk Awards; Orcadian eight-piece The Chair; The Hot Seats, from Virginia; Manchester outfit The Travelling Band; Welsh band Rusty Shackle; Fatherson and The Dirty Beggars, from Glasgow and Rose Parade, a four-piece from Ayr.
To find out more and book tickets please visit www.hebceltfest.com