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HCF Blog

Parachute comes in handy for shop opening

by Caroline Maclennan, director of the Hebridean Celtic Festival

I knew that parachute would come in handy someday.

For reasons I can’t quite remember now, it was acquired some years ago and while it was no longer suitable for its original purpose, we must have felt having a large piece of silk would be useful at some point.

So now it is being used to hide a multitude of sins at the back of the pop-up HebCelt shop which opened on Monday in Cromwell Street, Stornoway, after a rapid make-over. Over the course of a week or so a team of hard-working volunteers have turned the former Co-op building into a town centre focal point for the festival.

The building had been disused for a number of years and the interior looked rather ‘industrial’. But, after treating the floor, painting and covering the walls and hanging a colourful picture here and a disused piece of skydiving equipment there, our helpers completed their Changing Rooms-type transformation on Monday, ready for the public opening.

For the next three-and-a-half weeks this will be the HebCelt headquarters, a town centre presence for local people and visitors to buy their tickets, festival t-shirts and hoodies and also hear some good music.

The large space allows us to stage regular gigs by some of the artists performing at the festival, one of which will be Willie Campbell and the Tumbling Souls, a collection of familiar and talented local musicians. It provides a showcase for them ahead of stage appearances and gives people something to enjoy as they visit the shop and the town centre.

The work behind the scenes of the festival goes on year-round, but I feel the shop opening is the start of the build-up to the event. Having that focal point gets people thinking and talking about HebCelt approaching and it is the first note in what will shortly develop into a buzz of excitement that envelopes the place around festival week.

Soon visitors will start to arrive; hotels, guest houses and campsites will become fuller, shops will begin to dress their windows with festival displays and the carnival atmosphere that is created by HebCelt will build up.

It takes on its own momentum from here - and not even a working parachute could stop it.