Suddenly I see Hebcelt on the horizon
There’s just two weeks to go before the Mackenzie Clan sing the first note of HebCelt 2019 when their sold-out show at An Lanntair gets the festival main events under way.
The excitement is already building for our 24th event. The festival shop opened last week in Francis Street and has been a hive of activity ever since. It’s always a wonderful feeling to begin the countdown and see the shop thronging with people buying their tickets and their HebCelt t-shirts and hoodies and other goodies.
It’s also satisfying to see folk enjoying the music and the general buzz around the shop, which adds a bit more enjoyment to a day’s shopping.
Next week the excitement level ramps up another notch with the arrival of the festival tents which will start to transform the landscape of the town and the arena site starts to take shape in the castle grounds.
Soon the first trickle of people will start arriving for the festival; the advance party of overseas visitors, the early volunteers who come from all parts of the globe and friends and family returning home to see loved ones. HebCelt is the magnet that draws all these people to Lewis at this time of year - for most of our audience it is the sole or main reason for travelling to the islands – and the atmosphere they all help generate makes this such a memorable time.
Not long now before each ferry and plane arriving in Stornoway bring more and more festival goers, filling the hotels, guest houses and campsites, swarming through the streets and turning the town into a four-day carnival of noise and colour, that party vibe radiating beyond the centre and into outlying areas.
Even after 24 years, the build-up generates a combination of excitement, pride and mild panic. There are hundreds of things still to do and the days are disappearing quickly. But this is when the community comes into its own, rallying around to ensure everything is done in time.
At a time when other music festivals in Scotland have gone under, we are still afloat and that community spirit has played a huge part in that. The sense of ownership we all feel when it comes together is what makes HebCelt special.
See you there!