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It's a landmark year for many

It’s a landmark year for many

Anniversaries seem to be a theme running through this year’s HebCelt.

To have finally reached our 20-year milestone festival seems a bit surreal. It all began in 1996 with just a few hundred people, mainly locals, for that’s what the focus of the event was. This year attendances are expected to top around 15,000, half of which will be from outside the islands.

Shooglenifty were on the bill at our first festival and today (12 March) we have announced that they will be back with us as one of the main acts on the Islands Stage during their own 25th year of performing.

Still as popular as ever around the world Shooglenifty will be gigging in four different continents this year alone, and will also be profiling tunes and songs (yes that’s right) from their latest album, due for release in May.

Our pals at An Lanntair Arts Centre also have their 30th anniversary this year. Our collaboration stretches back to 1997 and the early days of HebCelt. Their venue hosts our showcase concert series and is home of the festival club where we’ve had some memorable late night gigs.

An Lanntair will again be hosting a diverse range of shows during festival week, starting with Between Islands, a unique collaboration involving Kris Drever, from Orkney; Arthur Nicholson, from Shetland; and Willie Campbell, from Lewis, which will be premiered at HebCelt.

We’ve also added the fabulous Salsa Celtica, whose mix of salsa brass and Scottish and Irish tunes will bring a Latin flavour to our opening night in the festival arena.

Mànran

Hebridean heroes Niteworks come storming back armed with a new album of work and Mànran take centre stage on Friday evening. Will the sharpies make an appearance though...

We’re delighted to have Findlay Napier appearing, fresh from a support slot on Eddi Reader’s UK tour and the release of his single, while his latest album, ‘VIP Very Interesting Persons’, has attracted 5 star reviews and already featured in The Telegraph’s 12 best folk albums of 2015 list.

Sorren Maclean, from Mull, is another rising star – and a busy one. The singer, who launches his EP, ‘Way Back Home’, this month, has recorded with Colin MacIntyre of Mull Historical Society and Roddy Woomble – with whom he still collaborates – is about to release a new album and support Idlewild on tour.

We had great fun introducing our acoustic stage last year. It was so popular that we are going to extend it further and have an interesting first couple of bookings; Dublin-born poet singer Vincent Cross, who was raised in Australian and is now based in New York; and Glasgow singer-songwriter Scott McWatt. Many more to come of course.

Add in those artists already announced – including the mighty Afro Celt Sound System, Treacherous Orchestra, Raghu Dixit, Karen Matheson, Iain Morrison, amongst many – and we aim to have an anniversary party to remember.