The internationally-acclaimed Hebridean Celtic Festival is centre stage again after picking up its third award in three weeks.
The Stornoway-based event was named Best Cultural Event or Festival in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA), a title it also won in 2014.
HITA recognised the economic, cultural and musical impact of the festival. Judges highlighted the fact HebCelt has been running for more than 20 years, during which time it has generated in excess of £20 million for the islands, and that it attracts a wide overseas audience, including from across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They add that HebCelt is a “clear demonstration of hard work, commitment and enthusiasm”.
Last month, HebCelt also collected both the Festival of the Year award and the Grand Prix prize for ‘best of the best’ at the Scottish Event Awards.
Festival director Caroline Maclennan said: “This is another wonderful honour for everyone connected to the festival, including our audience, sponsors, supporters, volunteers and our community.
“Getting this recognition from the tourism industry underlines the festival’s drawing power for visitors, many of whom use the event as a starting point for a longer visit to the Outer Hebrides. As well as its cultural significance, it is also a huge economic driver for the islands.”
The HITA award is for the 2016 HebCelt, which was headlined by Runrig and attracted an estimated 18,000 people over four days to Stornoway and outlying areas in Lewis and Harris.
An independent economic impact study showed the festival generated £2.2 million for the economy and helped safeguard 40 tourism-related jobs.
The survey found that 63 per cent of festival goers came from outside Lewis and Harris, with almost three quarters saying they were in the area to attend HebCelt.