Hebcelt fans urged not to gamble on legal highs

The award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival has joined a campaign to help highlight the dangers of so-called legal highs.

HebCelt will be among more than 40 summer music events taking part in a ‘blackout’ campaign which will call on the incoming Government after the General Election to raise awareness and improve education around the substances.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) organised a similar offensive last year when 26 festivals’ websites and social media accounts displayed a completely black window except for a grey light bulb and the message “Don’t be in the Dark about Legal Highs”.

This year event organisers will replace their online presence on 4 May with an image of a roulette wheel and the words ‘‘You Could Lose the Lot on Legal Highs’, as well as a list of the most commonly used substances.

The blackout campaign, which is being run in conjunction with the Angelus Foundation, a charity dedicated to raising awareness about the unpredictability of such substances and that the risk can be equivalent or even greater than illegal drugs.

According to the AIF, ‘legal highs’ continue to be an issue, with more than 100 new substances on the market in 2014 and over 60 recorded deaths.

Paul Reed,General Manager of AIF, said: “Following the huge success of this campaign last year we felt that it was important to revisit it in 2015. The dangers of so-called legal highs are still of great concern to our members and anyone involved in staging music festivals

“We want all events this summer to be safe, enjoyable environments for music fans. This is an important message and we are very pleased to say that support for this initiative is growing, with over 40 festivals participating this year.”

Caroline Maclennan, Director of HebCelt which will be held from 15-18 July in Stornoway in the island of Lewis, said: “Although legal highs are not a big issue for us, we recognise they present a huge problem for the organisers of other festivals and for society in general.

“Anything that gives people advice about these substances and the risk they present should be welcomed and we are keen to be part of this campaign.”

This year’s HebCelt 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: {http:// www.hebceltfest.com/booking|at}