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HCF Blog

Festival shop 2016 opens

Temperature rising as festival fever starts to grip

You know summer is here when Stornoway becomes home for a few hours to hundreds of cruise passengers and one of their ports of call is the newly-opened HebCelt shop.

Our base in Cromwell Street opened this week and has already been a hive of activity, dealing with calls, texts, emails and social media requests, as well as the queues of people who have called in to buy some of the ever-diminishing pile of festival tickets or our rather lovely and eye-catching merchandise.

During festival week the shop will be augmented by a pop up Harris Gin outlet – the first outside Harris – which will certainly add to the feel-good factor surrounding the festival.

This year has a special feel to it, and not just because it’s our 21st birthday or our gin partnership. We have already broken a few records; the Early Bird tickets sold faster and in greater numbers than ever before; weekend tickets disappeared quicker than even our previous best years and as things stand we are heading for a sell out across all four days.

However, the work is just starting. As the temperature creeps a few degrees higher outside, the heat has also increased for our various team leaders and volunteer staff as the excitement and anticipation builds towards this year’s event.

The festival buzz is growing increasingly audible by the day; it’s starting to dominate conversations in the streets and businesses are preparing for their busiest time of the year outside the festival period. The local tourist office, when not engulfed by a rogue wave of cruise passengers, is looking for spare rooms to accommodate festival goers who have found space at the hotels and guest houses hard to come by.

Soon the big tents and stage equipment will be arriving on the island and the transformation will get under way of the castle green into a small village of food and drink outlets amid the performance areas.

Our volunteer army – over 100-strong - is ready to swing into action with military precision to ensure all parts of HebCelt run smoothly. They are a dedicated group from all walks of life and from different countries, many of them returning year after year to help behind the scenes, soak up the atmosphere and be part of the HebCelt ‘family’.

While their numbers are healthy and their enthusiasm unquestioned, they can always use a hand so recruits are always welcome, particularly in the Green Team which ensures our environmental principles are upheld. So please volunteer before we are forced to consider conscription.

The imminent approach of the festival is exciting but daunting, familiar yet unpredictable. For a few days our small town will be bursting with 15,000 people of various nationalities, bringing a vibrancy that makes us all feel good. Yes, there are economic benefits, but there are other positive impacts.

The festival brings people together, enhances our spirit of community, brings new friends together and renews old relationships.

It maintains and promotes our musical heritage and the indigenous Gaelic language and helps provide a platform for young developing talent.

There is much to celebrate and look forward to – over 70 shows, activities and performances in the main arena, an An Lanntair and in rural venues – culminating on Saturday night with our headliners Runrig making their fourth appearance in support of their last studio album.

This is your festival. Make sure you’re part of it

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