Putting community heroes in Hebcelt spotlight
HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan
Even after 25 years of being involved with HebCelt, nothing – absolutely nothing – can prepare you for festival week and the rollercoaster of emotions it engenders.
The only parallel I can draw is giving birth; you tend to forget the proceeding worry and pain amid the all-encompassing joy that comes with creating something unique and so, so special.
Having been involved in the conception and birth of HebCelt, I’ve taken immense satisfaction in watching it grow into one of the main music festivals in Scotland. But there are so many others who have helped its development and make sure it’s something that makes us all proud.
When I stood at the top of the castle green close to midnight on opening night on Wednesday, after a day, and a week even, that has challenged the resilience and stamina of our team, I reflected on the heroes who makes this happen; our festival family who have just got to be the most dedicated, hard working people you will possibly ever meet.
I believe this year has been the most challenging in our history. (maybe I say that every year when in the midst of it all, but this year feels different). It’s always an anxious time with many factors outside our control, including the weather and getting people to an island location. Not even the most seasoned of music festival managers can predict at this stage how we will get to the other side.
However, we’ve made a very positive start. Ticket sales are buoyant with events sold out across our opening day. The family concert and meet-n-greet with the local phenomenon that is Peat n Diesel were stowed out, as were the two contrasting, but thoroughly Hebridean, concerts with Beinn Lee in Breasclete and the truly special tribute by the Mackenzie family to the memory of Rodney Mackenzie.
And in true HebCelt style, the ceilidh went on until the wee small hours with volunteers, festival-goers and artists alike enjoying our unique atmosphere.
Yes, we had a rainy day in Stornoway, but it could not dampen the spirits of our ever-growing audience or the buzz spreading through the island as we welcome visitors from home and abroad as well as family and friends who are returning to enjoy the festival and see loved ones.
Leaving the main arena at midnight after an update with the site team, I got a lift back to my temporary digs from a bunch of guys who had at least another 3-4 hours of work ahead of them. This, friends, encapsulates what makes our festival; the dedication, the community spirit, the willingness to work for each other for the bigger cause.
It’s a genuine team effort; the Board, who all manage key areas; the site crew; the shop staff, front and back, and the amazing volunteers who pull it out of the bag each and every year. Add to that the extended family, the people who will drop everything to pitch in to help no matter the problem or the time of day. Thank you so much, you are all heroes.