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HCF Blog


Summer's here and the time is right...

This is it. HebCelt week. This is what the last ten months have been building up to. All the hours, the late nights, the worry, stress, endless phone calls and emails and a conveyor belt of coffee has finally come down to the next few days.

It started to get real when the festival site began its transformation from open space to main arena. Pathways have now been built and the colourful structures that will dot the castle grounds have started to appear. Soon they will become an array of food outlets, their inviting smell wafting across the castle grounds, enticing the masses as they swarm from tent to tent. In there somewhere will be a bar on the off chance that someone may get thirsty.

Over the weekend the big tents arrived on the island which is always an exciting moment. When these familiar giants change our landscape the heart beats a little faster. Not long now until young Eleanor Nicolson opens proceedings on the Islands Stage and the legendary Dougie MacLean kicks things off on our main stage. It’s so close; I feel its upon us all of a sudden, yet it can’t come quicky enough.

This really is my favourite time of year. Having everyone involved in this mammoth undertaking, along with those returning to the island for the week, in the same place at the same time is just magical.

It’s one of the joys of the festival, that it brings back to the island people who live and work on the mainland or further afield for a few days. Their homecoming, along with the arrival of visitors - many of them familiar faces now having been here so many times – is much of what HebCelt is all about. After 22 years, that feeling of togetherness is as strong as ever. It reminds me every year why we do it.

There is also a surge of anticipation, like a dam waiting to burst, as we wait for the opening note of HebCelt 2017. Walking around the site and the town centre, watching each part of the festival jigsaw slowly fit into place is another wonderful feeling. Yes, there will be challenges over the next few days, but our resilient and resourceful community has always found a way to get things done. It makes me very proud but humble too at the support that we get to make this all happen.

And it’s not just in the main arena that things are taking shape. An Lanntair is readying itself for tomorrow night when Between Islands play the festival’s opening gig and starting a full programme of events and festival club gigs, while the community venues in Breasclete, Bays and Tarbert are gearing up for sold-out gigs. The streets are busier with visitors, the campsites and guest houses are starting to fill up, shops are being made over with festival displays and HebCelt is beginning to dominate the local chatter.

The weather forecast? Who cares. And we’re all under cover anyway.

So, for the 22nd time - Welcome everyone.