Island music festival reveals £3.6m spin-off for local economy after record audience

One in three performers were based in Lewis and Harris

Scotland’s biggest island music festival was worth £3.6 million to the local economy as it broke its attendance records this year.

Organisers of the Hebridean Celtic Festival, which is staged in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, each July, say the event has now generated £34 million since it was launched in 1996.

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The main festival site, in the grounds of Lews Castle, attracted a record overall audience of 19,500 this summer, an eight per cent increase on the 2022 event.

And early bird tickets for the 2024 festival were said to have been snapped up in record time when they went on sale shortly after this year’s “HebCelt.” The Proclaimers, Peat and Diesel, Skerryore, Talisk, Sharon Corr, Niteworks and the Kinnaris Quintet were among the acts to perform.

HebCelt is a past winner of the best cultural event honour at VisitScotland’s annual Thistle Awards and the event of the year prize at the Scots Trad Music Awards.

More than a third of the 265 performers who appeared in this year’s “Hebcelt” were said to be based on Lewis and Harris.

Organisers said the figure demonstrated the festival’s commitment to supporting local musicians, as well as “the wealth of local talent coming from the Outer Hebrides.”

Visitors to the four-day festival were said to have spent an average of 6.8 days on Lewis and Hewis during their trip to take in the event.

A spokeswoman for the festival said: “A total of 70 performances, including 40 in the main arena, nine late night sessions, four at the An Lanntair arts centre and three family concerts, took place over the course of the week.”

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Gayle Findlay, chair of the Hebridean Celtic Festival Trust, said: "It’s so important to us that HebCelt has a positive impact on local people and businesses, and knowing that the festival has helped bring visitors to Lewis and the Hebrides in general, allowing them to see the beauty of the local area, is really encouraging, as is seeing the unwavering appetite for Celtic music and culture.

“We’re constantly blown away by the support and enthusiasm of the HebCelt audience, and to have broken the attendance record once again is just phenomenal.

"It means so much to us to see the festival grow each year, and to know that it brings such a boost to the local economy is fantastic. We can’t wait to do it all again next year.”



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