Celtic Connections performers tune up for 30th anniversary concert

Thousands of musicians from across the world are set to perform across Glasgow as traditional music festival Celtic Connections marks its 30th year.

The opening concert on Thursday at the city’s Royal Concert Hall involves artists who have featured over the past three decades, including Scandinavian folk roots band Basco, Western Isles band Peat and Diesel, Irish musician Liam O Maonlai, fiddle legend Duncan Chisholm, Scottish Dance Theatre and the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland.

They will be joined by a big band which was originally brought together for the 2021 digital opening night and who will now perform in person.

The festival, which runs until February 5, includes performances from artists from the US, Mali and Morocco.

Since its start in 1994 with 66 events at one venue, Celtic Connections now has four times as many at 25 sites throughout the city.

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Among those performing this year are Scottish Album of the Year award winner Fergus McCreadie, who joins harpist and composer Maeve Gilchrist and Mr McFall’s String Quartet for a concert at The Mackintosh Church, while the sole remaining member of Zimbabwean rock band The Bhundu Boys, Rise Kagona, will take to the stage at Saint Luke’s.

James Grant and The Hallelujah Strings will perform at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, with a second date added due to audience demand.

Concluding events include the final of the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year competition.

Donald Shaw, Celtic Connections creative producer, said: “Sharing our music and our arts is a vital part of our human existence – it allows us to feel rooted in place and connected to one another, enriching our lives in the process.

“Over the last 30 years, this is what Celtic Connections has always been about.

Celtic Connections 2021
The Karen Matheson Band performing at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall at Celtic Connections 2021 (Gaelle Beri/PA)

“As we take a moment to recognise and appreciate what we’ve managed to achieve over the last three decades, we go into this year’s festival with feelings of immense determination, pride and gratitude.

“As ever we’re incredibly excited to be welcoming people from across Scotland and the world to Glasgow to enjoy the very best in Celtic, folk, roots and world music.”

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said: “Celtic Connections shines a bright cultural light in the winter darkness and I’m delighted the Scottish Government is able to support this year’s 30th anniversary event.

“This year’s stunning line up of musicians reflects the huge amount of talent we have in Scotland and also the festival’s standing internationally as world-famous artists travel to Glasgow to take part in the celebrations.”