Celtic Connections launches 30th Anniversary Festival

Celtic Connections launches 30th Anniversary Festival

Celtic Connections, the home of world-class music, one-off collaborations, and genre-defying spectacles, is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary this January.

The internationally renowned festival will mark this milestone with an ambitious and eclectic programme of music that will be showcased between Thursday 19th January – Sunday 5th February 2023.

The 30th Anniversary will be a pinnacle moment for the festival as it recognises the advancements and achievements of the last thirty years and all that organisers have overcome to bring people together in a defining cultural celebration. It will also acknowledge and celebrate the resilience of the Scottish music scene, and the live entertainment industry, in the face of adversity.

It would be fair to say that there was a sense of apprehension for that very first festival back in 1994 – many questioned the idea of celebrating Scotland’s folk music on such a large scale during the dark month of January.

However, against the odds the first festival was hailed a huge success, staging 66 events across one venue and welcoming 27,000 attendees. Celtic Connections, which is delivered through Glasgow Life with funding from Glasgow City Council, is now internationally recognised as a world-class event and has grown to over 300 events across 30 stages, with an annual attendance figure of over 110,000.

With the global pandemic hitting in 2020, the festival team re-evaluated their output and were one of the first events to put on a completely digital-first festival, where organisers created unique content from specially commissioned projects and performances that were filmed across many of Glasgow’s much-loved venues. This unique footage culminated in 30 specially commissioned projects and performances available to view across a period of 19 days. Over 27,000 tickets and passes were sold for the online festival and viewers from over 60 countries tuned in.


Donald Shaw, Creative Producer for Celtic Connections, said:

Our 30th anniversary is a hugely important moment for the festival, especially considering the last couple of years. We will, of course, be paying homage to the musicians, bands and artists who have contributed, supported and inspired the festival over the last three decades, but importantly this is also a moment to look to the future. The last two years have been incredibly tough for so many musicians and the live entertainment industry in general, so Celtic Connections 2023 is an opportunity to commemorate how far the festival and the Scottish music scene has come, and to also celebrate the fact that we are still here.

Celtic Connections is still showcasing some of the best music Scotland and the world has to offer, established and emerging musicians are still here creating and performing, audiences are still here enjoying the cultural exponents of our country and other nations from across the world. Sharing our music and our arts is a vital part of our human existence, connecting us and enriching lives, and we have missed that. I can’t wait to revel in a live festival once again and celebrate the resilience and the longevity of our sector.

Bailie Annette Christie, Chair of Glasgow Life, said: 

The launch of an exciting new Celtic Connections programme showcasing Scotland’s outstanding musical legacy across a variety of vibrant live events is always a real highlight. It’s particularly special and memorable this year, as we get ready to mark the 30th anniversary of the festival and celebrate just how successful it has become and the incredibly important contribution it has made, and continues to make, to Glasgow’s rich cultural offer.

Since the curtain first raised on Celtic Connections in 1994, it has grown over the years and earned an exceptional, well-deserved reputation as Europe’s leading traditional music festival, attracting thousands of visitors to our city. The superb range of entertainment next year’s 30th edition will offer to delight local, national and international audiences will, I’m certain, enhance and enrich the lives of everyone attending.

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said:

Celtic Connections has been lighting up the dark days of January for 30 years and it is good to see them back after the challenges of the pandemic with such a fantastic in-person line-up to celebrate this special anniversary.

Over the years the festival has built up a reputation for staging world-class traditional music talent from Scotland and abroad and the Scottish Government is delighted to support it through the EXPO fund.

The festival will pay homage to the last three decades with a variety of concerts that shine the spotlight on musicians or groups who have been involved with the festival since the inaugural event or have come together thanks to the Celtic Connections platform.

This year’s Opening Concert will celebrate the history of the festival with a panoply of artists who’ve featured prominently over the years, alongside those emerging from the vibrant folk scene - reflecting Celtic Connections' multi-generational breadth, its internationalism and collaborative, cross-genre spirit.

Details of the full Celtic Connections 2023 programme, and the artists taking part, are available from 12th October, at www.celticconnections.com.