The Celtic Connections online festival begins this Friday (15). Running until February 2, the festival will feature over 30 performances.

Due to the pandemic, digital content from specially commissioned projects and performances have been created. These have been filmed across many of Glasgow’s venues, including the National Piping Centre. International artists have also contributed to the eclectic line-up by recording performances remotely.

Traditionally, the festival welcomes around 100,000 attendees to the city. Organisers say the 19-day event has caught the attention of music fans across the world with festival passes purchased in 35 countries already. Shows will be available for a week after they are first streamed to alleviate any restrictions for different time zones. 

Donald Shaw, Creative Producer for Celtic Connections, said: “The concept for a digital-first Celtic Connections was borne out of a desire to promote wellbeing and optimism amongst fellow musicians as much as it was about still being able to offer entertainment to our loyal Celtic Connections audiences during the dark nights of January.

Tryst at The Drygate.
Tryst at The Drygate during the 2019 Piping Live! festival.

“The resounding feeling that has come out of the recording days is a space for musicians to come back, to play again, to feel part of the community that they helped to create. The last time many of the contributing artists performed was at Celtic Connections last year and now they are back playing as part of the festival one year on after what has undoubtedly been the hardest year of their careers.”

The opening show features a dozen performances packed into 90 minutes, with footage recorded across many of Glasgow’s venues as well as captured remotely across the world.

Each night’s online concert will show an ambitious line-up of various performers.

For piping enthusiasts, Scottish folk group Breabach – which features Callum MacCrimmon and James Duncan MacKenzie, the 2019 Inverness Silver Medallist – will perform as part of a show being aired on Tuesday 19.

Ross Ainslie.

On Thursday 21, Ross Ainslie and his band join Talisk and Mànran on a bill, while Gnoss – featuring Connor Sinclair, 2019 Inverness Gold Medallist – are playing the following evening.

An exciting evening of piping has been lined up for January 28. The Conundrum 2021 includes Finlay MacDonald, Ross Ainslie, Malin Lewis, Ailis Sutherland, Conal McDonagh, Bradley Parker and a band of Steven Blake, Steve Byrnes and David Foley. Also joining this bill are Tryst, the 10-member band of pipers. The neo-trad trio Project Smok will open the night of entertainment with a number of tunes built around the distinctive piping of BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2020, Ali Levack from the Black Isle. 

The afternoon of January 31 will showcase the festival’s third and final New Voices Commission from the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland’s Director, Steven Blake of Rura fame.

• An ‘All Access’ ticket is priced at £40. This will give access to all of the concerts taking place across the 19 days. It is, of course, also now possible to purchase tickets for individual shows, pricing for these is detailed in the listings below. Click here for a ticketing information.

Celtic Connections began in 1994 when its 66 events centred around one venue, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, and welcomed 27,000 attendees. Since those early days Celtic Connections has become more adventurous, more experimental and more diverse and now annually welcomes over 100,000 attendees and over 300 artists to Glasgow for over 2,000 events.

The festival is delivered by the charity, Glasgow Life and is funded by Glasgow City Council, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government Festivals EXPO Fund.