Coronavirus Scotland: Celtic Connections goes online in ‘digital first’ festival

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As Europe’s largest winter music festival, Celtic Connections annually welcomes over 2,000 artists to Scotland in a musical celebration of folk and tradition. 

This year the Glasgow festival was set to celebrate its 28th incarnation in 2021 – but Covid has had different plans.

As with the rest of the world, festival organisers have had to have a rethink about this year’s set-up. 

“Loathed to sit back and watch” as Covid-19 inflicts chaos on the lives and livelihoods of musicians, technical crews, venue staff and the rest of the creative supply chain – the Celtic Connections team have put together a digital-first festival.

Along with the festival’s funding supporters Glasgow Life, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government, the Celtic Connections 2021 team is raring to present concerts in a digital format – using an online platform that will host musicians every night between Friday 15 January and Tuesday 2 February 2021.

Some of the best musician’s Scotland has to offer will put on a show that will be available to view online across the 19 days, as well as other Celtic Connections favourites from across the world.

With the full programme set to be announced in early December, Celtic Connections fans can expect to see an array of the most well-known and best-loved acts that have traditionally graced the festival stages.

The very best of Scotland’s roots music has always sat at the heart of this international festival that unites and collaborates with cultures and musical talent from all over the world.

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Organisers have ensured that, although the majority of the line-up predominantly showcases homegrown talent, a number of international acts remotely filmed are also included in the line-up so that the essence of what the festival has grown to be truly about – connections, collaborations and relationships – is still prevalent in this new-era Celtic Connections.

And in a bid to protect Scotland’s rich musical legacy at this time of uncertainty, the festival has pledged to focus on creating unique digital content from specially commissioned projects and performances filmed across many of Glasgow’s much-loved venues.

Annually welcoming over 100,000 attendees to Glasgow, a UNESCO City of Music, organisers hope the festival’s digital-first programme will appeal to the wide international audience they traditionally see attending the festival.

With the festival’s global audiences in mind, they have allowed for all shows to be available for a week after they are first streamed to alleviate any issues with different time zones enjoying the range of content. 

Donald Shaw, Creative Producer for Celtic Connections, said: “Of course one of the hardest consequences of the Covid-19 virus for musicians this year has been the loss of live audiences in venues, so like many festivals we have had to look to an alternative way of presenting the Celtic Connections experience.

“In a world where so much is unknown it is vitally important that as a sector, we do all we can to ensure the longevity of Scotland’s culture.

“Sharing our music and our arts is a vital part of our human existence, it connects us as a nation both at home and abroad.

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“We owe so much gratitude to our funding partners who have supported our plan to put together a festival that embraces and showcases Scotland’s culture whilst supporting both the artists and the supply chain that keep this sector running.”

The full line-up and details of how to book will be announced on Wednesday 2 December.



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