Celtic Connections

Celtic Connections
Photo: celticconnections.com
Celtic Connections is arguably the largest wintertime music festival in the world. It is held every January in the city of Glasgow, Scotland. This folk, roots and world music festival focuses on celebrating Celtic music and its connection to different cultures around the globe.

Celtic Connections was founded by Colin Hynd to fill a gap in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’s performance schedule. The post-Christmas period was normally quiet, and Hynd thought that a new festival would shake things up. The first edition of the Celtic Connections festival was held in 1994, attracting about 35,000 people. The festival program featured performances by Celtic folk singers and groups, ceilidhs (traditional Gaelic gatherings with music and dancing), modern Celtic art and a fashion shows. Most events have continued to this day, but the first fashion show turned out to be the last one.

The Celtic Connections festival has been held annually ever since, attracting over 120,000 attendees from all over the United Kingdom and abroad. Its program features around 300 concerts, ceilidhs, workshops and other events which take place in every space of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and in 20 more venues across the city.

The festival typically opens in mid-January with a spectacular torchlight procession and live music performances at several venues in the very heart of Glasgow. Thousands of school students attend free concerts held every morning as a part of the festival’s Educational Program. Celtic Connections aims to introduce children and youth to a wide range of music genres including traditional Scottish music, international folk, spiritual and blues. It also pays much attention to fostering new and young talent through special concerts and competitions.

Free and paid admission concerts are held throughout the day, followed by late night sessions at the Celtic Connections Festival Club which run to the wee hours of the morning. The club never announces its program in advance, surprising the audience with one-off collaborations between musicians. Alongside live concerts and sessions, the program of the Celtic Connections festival includes workshops, art exhibitions, and other events and activities.

Celtic Connections features both emerging talent and established artists. Performers who have appeared at the festival in the past include Sinéad O’Connor, k.d. lang, Snow Patrol, Mariza, Billy Bragg, Joan Baez, Bob Geldof, Clannad, Silly Wizard, Shane MacGowan, Evelyn Glennie, and others.

In 2021, the event was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Celtic Connections

Photo by Catriona




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