We are thrilled to announce the official launch of The Isle of Harris Gin Cèilidh Tent at the Hebridean Celtic Festival 2023. Formerly known as the Acoustic Stage, this exciting new endeavour aims to evolve from sponsorship to stewardship in the coming years, establishing itself as an integral part of the annual festivities.
To enhance the vibrant atmosphere, we will be setting up our Isle of Harris Gin Bar, ensuring the spirits keep flowing alongside captivating live performances by musicians Abigail Pryde, Michael McGovern, and the award-winning Scottish piper Malin Lewis. Joining us to create a wonderful ceilidh atmosphere on Friday evening is the folk trio Carnan, while the incredibly special Welsh language singer Gwilym Bowen Rhys will grace the stage on Saturday.
Stay tuned for more updates on these exciting happenings! In the meantime, let's delve into the story of the HebCelt Festival...
In the harbour town of Stornoway, approximately 40 miles to our north, a festival like no other has been captivating hearts and minds for over 25 years. Born in 1995 from the collective vision of local enthusiasts, HebCelt has blossomed into a cultural extravaganza that attracts music lovers from around the world. From its humble beginnings drawing in 1,200 predominantly local attendees, HebCelt has experienced remarkable growth, now standing as one of the most cherished events in our islands.
The festival owes its success to the passion and dedication of its volunteer board of directors. In 1998, HebCelt transformed into a limited company while retaining its charitable status, ensuring a steadfast commitment to its community and heritage. Over the years, the festival's trajectory soared, with the 10th anniversary celebration marking a turning point, captivating a staggering 15,000 attendees, with half of them venturing from outside the Outer Hebrides, eager to experience the event and the surrounding attractions.
However, it was the 25th anniversary, delayed until 2022 due to the pandemic, that etched its name in history as HebCelt's most successful festival to date. Thousands of people flocked to the event, creating a vibrant tapestry of attendees hailing from 20 countries across the globe. This success testified to the festival's enduring appeal and its ability to unite people from diverse backgrounds through music, culture, and the warm Outer Hebridean welcome.
What sets HebCelt apart from other festivals is its unique character and setting. Nestled in the picturesque Lews Castle Grounds, HebCelt encapsulates much of the best of our Gaelic language and culture. With its welcoming and friendly atmosphere, the festival embodies the spirit of its dedicated team of volunteers who have crafted an event with universal appeal while maintaining a strong sense of community identity.
The festival strikes a harmonious balance between local talent and renowned Scottish, UK, and global artists, presenting a diverse blend of sights and sounds that remain true to Celtic traditions while embracing new ideas and influences. Beyond the music, HebCelt is a cultural phenomenon for its community. It acts as a homecoming for islanders, fostering reunions with family and friends, while extending a hand of friendship to visitors who return year after year.
Moreover, HebCelt serves as a platform for the local creative community to shine. Artists, musicians, dancers, craftspeople, and other creatives come together, adding their unique touch to the festival's tapestry. Through their participation, HebCelt not only promotes the region's exceptional natural beauty and heritage but also uplifts the local economy and empowers the creative industries.
Looking ahead to Heb Celt 2023, anticipation is tangible. With a record number of bars and food stalls, attendees will have a wider array of high-quality products to savor and the public arena has expanded to provide more space for everyone, ensuring comfort and enjoyment.
As HebCelt prepares to open its gates once again, it stands as a testament to the power of music, community, and cultural preservation. It invites all to join in a celebration of tradition, diversity, and the enduring spirit of the Hebrides. Whether you're a local returning to your roots or a visitor embarking on a journey of discovery, HebCelt promises an experience that will leave an indelible mark on your musical heart.
Chì sinn ann sibh! / See you there!
HebCelt will take place on the Castle Green of Lews Castle in Stornoway between July 12 and 15, 2023.
Tickets are now on sale at www.hebceltfest.com