Thousands of non-Gaels are joining Gaels in the Highlands for the biggest Fringe in the Royal National Mod’s 122-year history, according to organisers.
Scotland’s Gaelic cultural festival opened in Inverness on Friday, the first time the event has been hosted in the Highland capital for 17 years.
The Mod is enjoying record levels of Gaelic speakers and event participation,. Organisers are especially pleased entries for the children’s traditional category have risen by 10 per cent.
Over the next week, more than 3,000 competitors are to compete in another 180 competitions in Highland dancing, Gaelic music and song, sport, literature and drama.
Alongside the competitions, however, more than 70 events are taking place in the the biggest Fringe in the event’s history.
Yesterday was a rest day in terms of competition, but followers and tourists enjoyed some of the Fringe performances and special church services.
During the week there will be concerts, street theatre, meet-the-author events, pub music nights, children’s disco, come and try sessions and a ceilidh.
The festival is attracting as many non-Gaels as Gaels, according to organisers, and John Morrison, chief executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach (Royal National Mod), said: “It’s been a wonderful start and Inverness has already proved itself to be a welcoming host.
“Some of the most coveted awards and events are still to come and we’re all eager to see who takes away the Gold Medals on Thursday. I hope non-Gaels get a taste for the Mòd and maybe pick up a phrase or two.
“There are some brilliant gigs and concerts taking place as part of the Fringe - from sessions at Hootananny’s, the Ironworks and Blackfriars, concerts by Gaelic music stars at Eden Court to events like the children’s disco and even ‘Echoes of War’.
“It will celebrate the poetry of Reverend John Macleod from wartime and set to music – there’s literally something for the whole family.”
The nine-day spectacular, which runs until Saturday and is expected to bring in up to £2.5 million to the locsl economy, will see thousands of competitors compete across 200 events.
The Mod began with the presentation of the coveted Gaelic Ambassador of the Year award to BBC presenter Kirsteen MacDonald – previous winners include writer and broadcaster Ruairidh Maclean and singer Julie Fowlis.
Ms MacDonald, a former pupil of Millburn Academy in Inverness, has hosted radio and television programmes including Dè a-nis?, An Là and Seachd Là on BBC Alba. She is BBC Scotland’s first Gaelic-speaking weather presenter.