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Celtic Connections is 25

Celtic Connections celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2018. In true Celtic Connections style the festival features an ambitious and eclectic line-up of musicians from all over the world playing at venues across Glasgow. The festival runs from Thursday 18 January to Sunday 4 February 2018.

When the festival began in 1994 doubters couldn’t believe the “sheer audacity” of festival organisers to plan an event of such length and scale during the month of January, when purse strings were pulled tighter and people were more inclined to batten down the hatches on the dark dismal nights than head out into the night to attend a gig, especially a folk gig!
Not only were the timings described as wrong but so also was the venue, the festival was centred round the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall which was described as “too formal, too plush, too posh for the essentially scruffy, laid-back creature that is folk music.” From these initial scepticisms and the various doubters the Celtic Connections festival grew at an unprecedented rate, increasing from 66 events in one venue with 27,000 attendees in 1994 to 172 events across 11 stages with 50,000 attendees in 1997 to now putting on over 300 events across 26 stages and an attendance figure of over 100,000.
Not only has the Celtic Connections festival grown in terms of events, stages and visitors’ attending but it has also grown significantly in terms of the music that it showcases, the genres it embraces and the international artists it welcomes. Celtic Connections 2018 will embrace music from the past to music of the present and will look ahead to the future of an increasingly experimental and exciting music scene.
With this year’s line-up and one-off collaborations the festival will show how much Scotland’s music scene has changed over the last 25 festivals, with ever increasing musical styles and cross genre fusions of jazz, classical, folk, world and electronica.
Donald Shaw, Artistic Director of Celtic Connections, said: “Since the inception of Celtic Connections in 1994 the Scottish music scene has developed and diversified hugely. When the festival began there was still significant compartmentalisation of genres, which although has its place at times, has become less prevalent over the years. The influence and inspiration that the traditional music scene has had across the whole musical landscape in Scotland and worldwide has helped to make the journey of Celtic Connections all the more adventurous and exciting.
“As an internationally renowned festival we continually strive for better and the 25th edition is no exception. Audiences will be treated to performances from some of the best artists from across the world and an array of unique collaborations and an eclectic mix of world music.”
Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Celtic Connections has been a leading light in Scotland’s cultural calendar for 25 years and I would like to wish them a very happy 25th anniversary! Since its modest beginning Celtic Connections has firmly established itself as a destination of choice not only for lovers of folk and traditional music but also for anyone who wants to embrace outstanding music from across the world.
“Every year audiences from around the world also flock to Celtic Connections, some who have attended every year since the festival’s inception. We look forward to welcoming these audiences back to our city in 2018 and the outstanding musical talent we’ve come to expect from this globally renowned festival.”
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Scotland has a rich heritage of traditional music and storytelling. For 25 years, Celtic Connections has built a stunning Trad folk and world music festival that promotes Scotland’s reputation as a nation of creativity and musical excellence, attracting music lovers from far and wide.
“As we enter our Year of Young People in 2018, Celtic Connections continues to support young people through their educational programme and provide opportunities for young musicians to perform and learn from other, more experienced artists. This is a festival of celebration that welcomes the world to Glasgow, confirming Scotland’s status as an open, outward looking country.”
Emma Campbell, Music Officer, Creative Scotland, said: “It’s a wonderful thing to congratulate Celtic Connections on its twenty-five years as an integral part of Scotland’s music scene. The festival celebrates our shared musical traditions and shines a light on the brightest new stars. Celtic Connections offers a world-class stage and wildly enthusiastic audiences to top performers from home and friends from across the globe. It’s particularly exciting to welcome Ireland as the festival’s international partner in 2018. This partnership with Culture Ireland builds on a strong affinity between our countries, with joint ambitions to share our music with the world.”