FOR the third year in succession the Hebridean Celtic Festival has been selected as one of the top 10 UK summer festivals by an influential publication.
World music magazine Songlines, which features artists from around the globe, has chosen the award-winning HebCelt as the only Scottish festival in its 2013 list, alongside the likes of Glastonbury and the Cambridge Folk Festival.
The four-day event, which this year marks its 18th anniversary, will be held from 17-20 July in Stornoway in the Isle of Lewis and feature headliners Van Morrison, Dougie MacLean, Capercaillie, The Battlefield Band and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.
Songlines editor Matt Milton said: “Songlines has long been a fan of the HebCelt festival. This is the third year that we’ve included it in our Top 10 UK festivals, and for very good reason. HebCelt puts on a great mix of big-name legends, traditional Scottish musicians and up-and-coming singer-songwriters.
“It does exactly what a 21st century folk festival ought to, and the setting – Stornoway itself – really sets it apart from other festivals. You feel like you’re getting away from it all.
“We’re particularly pleased to see Songlines favourites such as Lau and Karine Polwart on this bill, who we’ve championed within the mag over the years.”
HebCelt has its two main stages in the spectacular setting in front of Lews Castle in Stornoway, with performances also in An Lanntair arts centre and in rural parts of Lewis and Harris.
It attracts fans from around the world every year when the audience far outnumbers the 10,000 population of its host town.
Festival Director, Caroline MacLennan, said: “This recognition from Songlines is wonderful news, particularly as it is the third year in a row we have made the Top 10.
“HebCelt’s unique setting and great blend of music already help us attract people from many parts of the world and this further enhances our reputation at home and abroad.”
The accolade was also welcomed by Creative Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) who are supporters of the festival.
Ian Smith, Portfolio Manager, Creative Scotland, said: “It’s great to see HebCelt being recognised as a truly great Scottish festival, not only by Songlines, but by the fans from Scotland, the UK and all over the world.
“It is a global celebration of the Gaelic diaspora and language, which attracts artists of international repute such as Van Morrison. With a fantastic line-up and diverse programme each year, HebCelt just goes from strength to strength.”
Comhairle leader Angus Campbell added: “The Comhairle is pleased to again be supporting the Hebridean Celtic Festival which is a major success story for the Outer Hebrides and for Scotland.
“It is fantastic news that the festival has again made the Songlines Top 10 Summer Festivals list. It is testament to the organizers of the festival, the community of the Outer Hebrides, the performers and all those who support this exciting and vibrant celebration of Celtic culture.”
And Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil added: “This recognition for a third successive year is fantastic for HebCelt and well deserved.
“The festival organisers do a great job in putting together an impressive line-up of top acts while also promoting young, up and coming talent and helping to promote the Gaelic culture to an international audience, which then translates in every language, to an enjoyable event for all.”
Joining HebCelt in the Top 10 are: Africa Oyé (Liverpool); Cambridge Folk Festival; Hay Festival (Wales); Glastonbury Festival; Larmer Tree Festival (near Salisbury); Norwich and Norfolk Festival; Shrewsbury Folk Festival; Towersey Festival (Oxfordshire); WOMAD Charlton Park (Wiltshire).
Meanwhile, the 18th HebCelt is attracting huge interest across the globe. Advance tickets have already been snapped up by fans across the UK and Ireland, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and America.
Day tickets were available to buy from March 1st and early sales are encouraging with more than double the number being sold than at the same time last year. More than 70 per cent of tickets sold so far have also gone to off-island fans.
The 2013 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.