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HCF Blog

Kids watching a show in the narrows

Sunshine, selfies and serenades

There was a moment, just a brief moment when the sun poked its head out from under the clouds gathering over Lews Castle as the gates creaked open and decided that it wanted to stay a wee bit longer.

It has already proved kinder than most had predicted, delaying a seemingly inevitable downpour on Thursday long enough for the streets of Stornoway to enjoy a carnival of good karma to kick off Hebcelt in style.

Huge semi-circles of wide-eyed children gathered at the heart of town as circus acts pulsed out laughter and fun, a Jack Sparrow lookalike parked up his trike and young bands dished out leaflets urging folk to come see them.

Windows were rolled down but even as the heat built up behind glass, smiles reflected off windscreens at singers and bands playing and chatting on the local radio stations, sharing their own Hebcelt hopes and memories.

All along the way pipers tuned up in alleyways and buskers strummed on guitars. Music was fairly oozing from every corner and open door.

Bella and the Bear

And as evening arrived and festival organisers entertained sponsors and partners in the shade of woods, as they paid a glorious tribute to the army of volunteers who help make it all possible, the weather still held as if listening to the serenade of CalMac Culture Music winners Bella and the Bear.

When short lived burst of showers did come, a defiant rainbow of different coloured Hebcelt t-shirts, hoodies and shorts snaking their way along the shore simply looked up to the skies, shrugged, and kept on walking.

This was their festival, and nothing was stopping them.

The sun was canny enough to understand, and picked its moment to blaze in its rays, waiting to see Alasdair White pull on his smart jacket, take his place on the stage, and unleash a quite indescribable joy of music with An luchar.

It bathed the crowd and giant tent in a glow of approval, lifting up the happy mood of the place further as if in tempo with the music. At the moment, that brief moment, it could have been snowing in the arena and no one would have cared.

Because music like this, performances so special, have no season. They are more akin to planetary events, as rare and lucky as catching a falling star, leaving everyone wishing for the next time.

It is a feeling that spans generations. From the children in the circus tent, to the fans of Niteworks jumping up and down without pause at the fore of the Islands Stage as the band took a selfie, the tent itself still seduced by the beauty of Siobhan Miller's voice earlier.

Yet as quickly as the sun finally dropped from the sky to usher in the late events around town, it was back. Perhaps a little more tired and challenged than before, as was the case for most, but back nevertheless.

Allowing Friday to pick up the pace as a fresh wave of visitors, friends and artists were delivered safely onto shore from the ferry. More hugs, more handshakes, more fun.

More seats filled in the restaurants, more supplies hauled homewards from the shops, more people flocking to Hebcelt HQ in search of tickets as word spread of just how brilliant opening night had been.

As the day grew old, further chance for the fans to enjoy the music, to take part in meet and greets with the likes of Manran in the signing tents, and to post a flurry of images to Instagram hashtag #HebCelt20

Then in the first flushes of Saturday morning, headliners Idlewild summed everything up in a simple Tweet, which read: “We had a great time”

Which may be about the best everything ever written.

Keep up to date with all the news across the festival here or by following us on social media through our accounts on Twitter and facebook and Instagram or better still, share your photos using the hashtag #HebCelt20