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HCF Blog

Autumn in HebCeltLand

It seems like an age ago since HebCelt brightened up the streets of Stornoway and, for sure, the weather feels like we went from summer to autumn pretty quickly after July.

But in HebCeltLand nothing stops for long. After the festival tidy up was completed on the ground we headed straight into the evaluation process. This involved a lengthy process of gathering feedback from pretty much all aspects of the festival.

An exercise like this ensures we capture essential data to feed into the economic impact assessment and also to get important information and ideas from festival-goers on where we can improve and which artists you would like to see playing at a future HebCelt.

We do listen to these suggestions and we always try our hardest to make the festival experience as enjoyable for all.

This appraisal, which again has shown the value of the festival as a key economic and tourism driver for the islands, is also valuable when we report back to our funders and sponsors. It demonstrates clearly that their support in underwriting the event is rewarded with an event that has such a widespread impact.

This obviously matters when we prepare the case for HebCelt 2019. Work is ongoing in that regard, but we are making progress. We are always looking for new and innovative ways of raising funds to enhance the festival, so if anyone is interested in getting involved just get in touch.

The audience figures for this year show it was the busiest HebCelt ever and, once again, Stornoway and the surrounding areas benefited from a huge influx of visitors. Of course, this puts a strain on our accommodation providers and we thank everyone who helped provide a bed, whether it was in a hotel, guest house, campsite or spare room.

Each year when local people open their arms, and often their homes, to visitors, it is a pleasant reminder how supportive the community is and we would not be able to be so successful without that togetherness.

This year’s festival enjoyed unprecedented exposure due to the visit from BBC’s The One Show. They broadcast live from the festival on the Friday evening reaching, we are told, around 5 million viewers. And, although it impacted on some of our normal activity, it was a very positive experience for them and one that raised the profile of HebCelt and provided a great boost to the islands as a tourism destination.

The board of directors and associates met just recently.

We are a dispersed group now, but take time to meet in person at least once a year outwith the festival, and this was our opportunity to review all aspects of the event and consider adjustments to our operational plans. I cannot credit this amazing bunch of highly motivated people enough, their year round voluntary commitment is staggering and their investment in the festival is unwavering.

And talking of volunteering, the support we received from our festival volunteers was fantastic this year. In all, 175 people contributed more than 3,800 hours to make sure the event was carried off in a safe and enjoyable manner. We’ve had tremendous feedback from festival goers about our volunteers; we really couldn’t do it without them. For those interested in helping in 2019, we will be opening this area for registration at the start of the year.

In the meantime, due to popular demand, advance tickets from HebCelt 2019 are already on sale and are being snapped up quickly. You’ll be pleased to know that these have been held where possible at this year’s prices.

Also in response to feedback from you, we have changed the ticketing structure; reduced the child ticket qualifying age, and added in a youth ticket. This means the concessions brackets are slightly more favourable for our younger festival attendees and hopefully this will clear up some of the anomalies for our under 18s. More information on our ticketing page.

And finally, we have started the search for artists who will grace our stages in 2019. This will be ongoing until February or March next year.

It’s a long process, which takes a lot of time and effort to get right. It needs to be a balanced programme, mixing local, national and international acts; established and emerging talent; and artists to appeal to our wide age range – all within the boundaries of the festivals ethos. Not easy, but we enjoy a challenge.

So HebCeltLand will be buzzing again soon. In the meantime, keep up to date with what’s happening on Twitter, on Instagram and on Facebook