Skip to main content

HCF Blog

Hebcelt at Celtic Connections

As I write this I’m about to embark on my second outing to Celtic Connections and the fabulous Showcase Scotland event which runs within the main festival event. This is a superb opportunity to connect with individuals who work across the world putting on live music, promoting it, supporting it, writing about it and so much more. It’s such an inspiration for me and the relationships that we build across the globe are unique.

But it also resets the world a bit. When you work remotely on the west coast of Lewis, and are involved day-to-day with HebCelt, sometimes you forget just what an amazing event the festival is. But when international delegates are aware of it, and how successful it’s been over the years (and all practically run on volunteer effort) it’s just a bit mind blowing. But it also swells the heart.

We look back with great pride on our recent achievements. A highly successful festival in 2017 was followed by our profile being raised massively at Lorient and also four awards in the space of three months. Having won both the Festival of the Year award and the Grand Prix prize for ‘best of the best’ at the Scottish Event Awards, we were also named Best Cultural Event or Festival in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, and in January we won a Highly Commended accolade at A Greener Festival Awards.

And it may not stop there. We still have the Scottish Thistle Awards to come on 15 March. This weekend we have Blasta getting an outing at Celtic Connections (3 February).

And that’s when I think back to last weekend in Glasgow and our annual round the table board meeting. See, we actually operate remotely but meet regularly on skype or talk individually, practically every other day so it’s that sense of gathering the family that I get such a lot from. And these are an amazing bunch of people. All bring their own skillset, but more importantly they have the wellbeing of the festival at the centre of everything they do. This isn’t a board who turn up for the tea and biscuits, all have a role in making the festival operate, and all are volunteers.

HebCelt is such a hugely positive event and is carried off in an exemplary manner. But, I’ll reiterate, it’s all run on volunteer power. We are a charity, we don’t make money at this, we cover our costs (if we are lucky). In 2017, there were 160 volunteers, who carried out 3,500 hours of unpaid work and that doesn’t take into account the support of community groups round Lewis & Harris or the year round effort of the board.

We’ve just opened up our volunteering for this year’s festival and already all the stalwarts are signing back up again, looking forward to the summer and the family gathering. These people are just the salt of the earth and I’m so proud to be a part of it all.

Oh, and we got to Bothy Culture and Beyond...what an amazing show. Felt like a defining moment for us folkies. Be proud, be loud, be ambitious, be confident. Well done Donald et al.

Caroline Maclennan, Festival Director