Preview: Stonehaven Folk Festival

Stonehaven Folk Festival included an Aqua Ceilidh held at Stonehaven Open Air pool. Picture: submitted
Stonehaven Folk Festival included an Aqua Ceilidh held at Stonehaven Open Air pool. Picture: submitted
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T IN the Park may be about to turn 20, but it isn’t the only music festival celebrating a big anniversary this weekend. A few miles up the road, the comely Aberdeenshire seaside town of Stonehaven will be hosting its 25th annual shindig of traditional music and song.

“It originally grew out of the Stonehaven Folk Club,” says festival committee chairman Charlie West, who’s been involved in the event since its third year. “And because the club had really good personal contacts, that first line-up was pretty impressive, with Dougie MacLean and Capercaillie headlining.”

MacLean returns to open the 2013 programme at Stonehaven Town Hall tomorrow night, and the line-up also features renowned Irish singer-songwriter Paul Brady, Derbyshire songstress Bella Hardy, and an array of top Scottish talent, including Mairearad Green & Anna Massie, Breabach and Rura. The festival remains rooted in the North-east’s rich singing traditions, too. This year’s Tradition Bearers Concert sees Turriff-born Moira Stewart flying the local flag.

The 300-capacity Town Hall concerts are complemented not only by informal pub sessions, but by a couple of unique “fringe” attractions. Saturday’s World Paper and Comb Championships is a yearly fixture in which often sizeable ensembles perform elaborate arrangements of popular and classical pieces. It is followed on Sunday by the Aqua Ceilidh, at the town’s open-air (though heated) Art Deco swimming pool.

“The council were threatening to close the pool down, and we wanted to do something to help save it,” West said. “It has a bandstand beside it too, so a ceilidh in the water seemed natural.”