The DEMOCRAT

Arts and Culture 

BIGGEST AUDIENCE FIGURES EVER AT CELTIC CONNECTIONS 2018

The 25th Celtic Connections festival drew to a close on Sundayt (Sunday 4th February 2018) and the festival is delighted to announce that audience figures are the highest they have ever been.

The fabulous Sharon Shannon and Aoife Scott and her band.

Over the past 18 days, 130,000 attendances have been recorded in venues across the city.

Celtic Connections has brought Glasgow to life with more than 350 concerts, workshops and events over the last 18 days. The festival has welcomed over 2300 artists from over 30 countries to perform across its 28 stages.

Artistic Director Donald Shaw has confirmed that in future years his role will focus on developing more of the special commissions, major one-off shows and unique creative collaborations that have made the festival such a distinctive and internationally acclaimed event under his artistic leadership. He will work with the wider festival team and funding partners to bring fresh programming talent to the festival.

Donald Shaw, Artistic Director of Celtic Connections, said: “This is an exciting moment for the festival. Now that the Scottish Government Expo Fund has been opened up to us it is important that we make the most of this opportunity to develop more of the  unique collaborations and one-off shows that the festival has become so well known for. Strengthening and expanding the festival’s programming team will support further growth, and enable us to continue to develop the festival to its fullest potential as we look forward to the next 25 years; ensuring the longevity and musical integrity of Celtic Connections.”

Councillor David McDonald, the Chair of Glasgow Life, said: “It’s been another phenomenal year for Celtic Connections with the 25th anniversary festival breaking all records yet again There is nothing that compares to Celtic Connections and it is a huge part of our year-round cultural calendar, providing much needed entertainment and economic cheer to the city during the darkest winter months. Our first 25 years have seen the festival grow into a world-beater and I can’t wait to see what is to come as we move forward with the city’s musical ambitions.”

On the festival’s middle Saturday, Celtic Connections’ 2018 flagship event took place in The SSE Hydro – Bothy Culture & Beyond: The GRIT Orchestra with Danny MacAskillAli Clarkson, All or Nothing Aerial Dance and Niteworks was a resounding success with overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Among the audience were Outlander’s Sam Heughan and comedian and actor Phill Jupitus, who wrote on Twitter: “My first in a Rave/Ceilidh mash-up mosh pit in front of a full orchestra. Full props to @ccfest and @cuillin music, Greg and the Grit Ochestra for an amazing gig last night.”

Sharing an image of a packed looking venue, Lesley Riddoch also wrote on Twitter: “Surely largest ever indoor Scots/Gaelic gig – Bothy Culture at Hydro. Huge demand for our own culture only waiting for auditorium big enuf. And Martyn Bennett’s music brought alive by Greg Lawson & Grit Orchestra.”

BBC Scotland filmed the whole show, using more cameras than a Royal Wedding, and it was broadcast last night on BBC 2 Scotland.

The festival began on Thursday 18th January with a very special Celtic Connections 25th Anniversary Concert. This one-off show welcomed artists who have performed at the festival over the past quarter of a century. Artists performing included Cherish the Ladies, Sharon Shannon, String Sisters, Louis Abbott and Eddi Reader as well as Sharat Chandra Srivastava, Gyan Singh and Maya Youssef.

Twenty five years ago, Celtic Connections began as a series of concerts celebrating music from the celtic nations and it has since transformed into a globally recognised festival of national importance. The unique and exciting collaborations that we have witnessed over the last 18 days, from both home-grown and international talent, has further solidified the festival’s reputation as a platform from which outstanding, one-off musical moments are showcased. Not only do artists flock from all over the world to perform on the Celtic Connections stages, but so too do audiences; some have been travelling here every year since the festival began.

When the festival started in 1994 doubters couldn’t believe the “sheer audacity” of festival organisers in planning an event of such length and scale during the month of January, when people were more inclined to stay indoors on the dark, cold nights than head out to attend a gig, especially a folk gig! Fast forward 25 years and now we have that same festival showcasing a fusion of folk, electronica and classical music on the stage of the largest entertainment venue in Scotland.  

Over the last 25 years the festival has grown at an unprecedented rate, increasing from 66 events in 1 venue with 27,000 attendees in 1994 to 172 events across 11 stages with 50,000 attendees in 1997, to now putting on over 350 events across 28 stages and an attendance figure of over 130,000.

The 18 days of entertainment included a mixture of concerts, talks, workshops, film screenings, ceilidhs, art exhibitions, free events and late night sessions.

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