Celtic Connections festival set for record year

Country music legend and actor Kris Kristofferson is among the attractions. Pic: Getty

Country music legend and actor Kris Kristofferson is among the attractions. Pic: Getty

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Glasgow’s annual winter music festival is on course to record ticket sales, organisers have disclosed.

Nearly 50 shows at Celtic Connections have already completely sold out in advance of the opening gala on Thursday, a celebration of the nation’s leading singers from the last 50 years.

Organisers have reported an unprecedented scramble for tickets after the 22-year-old event expanded into several new venues this year.

And Celtic Connections, which runs daily until 1 February, has even been extended by a day for the first time to accommodate audience demand.

The hottest tickets include a gala concert to mark 100 years of the Easter Rising in Dublin, headlined by The Chieftains, a concert to celebrate the music of legendary singer Joni Mitchell and a show in honour of the late Glasgow guitarist Bert Jansch, which will now run for an extra night at the end of the festival.

Big draws include Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant, who is appearing at the Jansch tribute night, along with indie favourites Bernard Butler and Graham Coxon, American rock outfit They Might Be Giants and country icon Kris Kristofferson, who will be part of both the annual Roaming Roots Revue show and the Easter Rising concert.

Already sold out are a 30th anniversary concert by the celebrated folk duo Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, Love and Money star James Grant, indie-folk favourites Admiral Fallow and Corries singer Ronnie Browne.

And tickets for intimate shows by rising Scottish stars like Siobhan Wilson, The Urban Teuchters, Robyn Stapleton, Claire Hastings and Scott Wood have also been completely snapped up.

More than 100,000 people flocked to the festival for the eighth year in a row last year, with record ticket sales of £1.15 million being recorded.

New venues this year include the Drygate Brewery, the Theatre Royal and a new auditorium which has expanded the Royal Concert Hall, the festival’s headquarters, which only opened in November.

Donald Shaw, the festival’s artistic director, told The Scotsman: “We are certainly in line with where we were at this time last year, if not ahead.

“We had our best ever year at the box office last year, but our sales are definitely as good as ever. We are in good shape at the moment.

“I had promised the team that we would do less events this year than we did last year but they tell me we’ve actually ended up with more. We’ve added quite a few extra shows.

“We have a lot of really busy shows, and quite a lot are already sold out, but there is a whole bunch of stuff still available.”

The festival, which will feature more than 2500 different musicians performing across 26 stages, will open on Thursday with a celebration of half a century of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland, which is being masterminded by one of the new generation of star performers, Siobhan Miller.

Edith Bowman, Vic Galloway, Mark Radcliffe, Ricky Ross and Janice Forsyth will be among those presenting the BBC’s biggest ever package of coverage from the festival, including the annual Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Award.

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