Hebcelt contributes to £1bn gain for UK economy

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Independent music events, including the Hebridean Celtic Festival, generated an estimated £1 billion for the UK economy in the last four years

The money was spent between 2010 and 2014 at 50 events across the country that are members of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).

Last year alone, audience spend was a record high of £296 million, while local businesses near festivals have also benefited by £80 million over the four years.

AIF has released the figures as part of its Festival Fever campaign to highlight the cultural and economic impact of independent festivals. All participating members will display a digital ‘badge’ across social media stating ‘Proudly independent’.

Paul Reed, General Manager of AIF, said: “Our extensive audience research shows that over the last four years our members’ events have contributed an estimated £1 billion to the UK economy, primarily through audience spend, which has benefited the entire UK.

“To celebrate that success we have launched ‘Festival Fever’ to highlight the importance of independent music festivals and to illustrate the huge diversity of wonderful events.”

The Hebridean Celtic Festival, which is marking its 20th anniversary this year, generates around £1 million annually to the economy of the Outer Hebrides. Its audience of about 15,000 is more than double the population of its host town Stornoway, in the island of Lewis, with half the number of music fans coming from outside the islands, including hundreds from across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.

Caroline Maclennan, the HebCelt director, said: “As these figures show, independent festivals make a hugely significant contribution to the economy and can provide major benefits to local businesses.

“HebCelt is now one of the biggest events of the year in the islands and is regarded by businesses as their biggest earning period outside the festive season. It encourages tourism to the islands and the impact is felt way beyond the main centre of activity in Stornoway.”

This year’s HebCelt, which runs from 15-18 July, will feature acts including Idlewild, Afro Celt Sound System, Treacherous Orchestra, the Karen Matheson Band, Shooglenifty, Chastity Brown, Le Vent du Nord, Raghu Dixit and Salsa Celtica.

Tickets for all events during the festival can be bought at www.hebceltfest.com/booking