Festival finishes with a flourish


THE scale of Celtic Connections this year may have seen a departure from the huge numbers of performers and audience members who now typify the festival, but as the curtain came down on the final performance it was hailed as a triumph over the challenges which Covid-19 has presented.

With 100 musicians taking part—down from 2100 last year—and audiences watching performances online, a change in the festival was simply the price of making sure it could go ahead, but from the first night to the last the performers ensured that fans of the festival had their usual fix of musical entertainment at a time when it is needed most.

“The last 19 days have instilled in us all a renewed sense of hope and optimism,” Donald Shaw of Celtic Connections said. “Sharing our music and our culture will continue to be an essential part of our human existence and it has been incredible to be able to facilitate this, despite the challenges. The feedback we have had really shows just how important music is to people and we are delighted to have been able to help in some way brighten up the darkest January in recent history.

“As the curtain falls on this digital Celtic Connections 2021, I’d like to say such a huge thanks to so many people, to the community of musicians across the world who have gone above and beyond to provide the most incredible music, to the team behind the scenes who have made this happen and to the audiences who have tuned in and supported the festival from all across the world. A heartfelt thank you to you all.”

The success of the festival has shown others involved in the music industry that large scale events for big audiences can still take place, and others will now be looking to such formats as a way to deliver quality musical entertainment online.

“For the past couple of weeks so many of us have been happily immersed in Celtic Connections—making a special event of catching concerts live, dipping back into missed gigs, cheering along to personal favourites and adding new acts to the musical radar,” Alan Morrison, Head of Music at Creative Scotland, said. “Every artist has given their all, restoring our faith in the power of Scotland’s music. Not only that – the digital presentation has been flawless, and Celtic Connections has set the digital bar high for every other festival to follow.”

This year’s festival was also praised by Scotland’s Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, who celebrated the transmission of a music festival at a time when other forms of entertainment are unavailable due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“I congratulate Celtic Connections on the success of its first wholly digital festival,” she said. “All of the musicians who have performed this year have brought joy and brightness to many through the dark winter, giving audiences the chance to enjoy the sheer talent of their music and performances.