FEMALE voices from around the islands will get the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival under way this summer.
HebCelt’s opening concert on Wednesday July 13, will feature Julie Fowlis from North Uist – who is also appearing with her band in the main festival arena on Friday 15 – alongside Mary Smith and Isobel Ann Martin (Lewis), Cathy Ann MacPhee (Barra) and Kathleen Macinnes (South Uist).
"We felt HebCelt’s 21st birthday merited an extra special event," Alex Macdonald, head of performing arts and cinema at An Lanntair, said.
"So, what better time to assemble this wonderful selection of island singers to perform together, particularly in the year that we are focusing on the Hebrides as a creative place."
The concert also marks start of the regular programme of events hosted by An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway during festival week.
On Thursday 14, An Lanntair’s programme will also include a reprise of Atlantic Blast, first devised by HebCelt for its 15th anniversary in 2010 which went on to feature at Celtic Connections the following year.
Featuring Calum Alex MacMillan (pipes, whistles/vocals), Norrie Maciver (guitar/vocals) and DC Macmillan (drums), the cast will also include local talent such as Stephen Drummond (accordion) and showcase some of the area’s most famous piping tunes whilst exploring the links between pipe music and song.
Friday will see MG Alba Scots Trad Live Act of the Year award winners Skipinnish take to the stage in their first HebCelt appearance since 2012.
An Lanntair will also host three-time BRIT award winner Eddi Reader, known for fronting the Scots band Fairground Attraction as well as her solo work, on Saturday July 16.
Reader, who has released 10 solo albums and was made a MBE for outstanding contributions to the arts, will be performing with her band – husband John Douglas, Boo Hewerdine, Alan Kelly and Kevin McGuire – in her first visit to HebCelt since 2011.
HebCelt is also known for community concerts outside the main centre of Stornoway and a series of events in rural areas are being announced as part of its outreach programme.
Award-winning Canadian singer and musician Allison Lupton will play at Breasclete in Lewis on Wednesday. They will also play the following night at The Old School Centre, Shawbost, Lewis, a new venue for HebCelt this year.
Orkney four-piece Fara – already announced for the main festival arena – are at Seallam Visitor Centre in Harris on Thursday.
•Tickets for these concerts and community shows, together with the popular late night dances and festival clubs in An Lanntair and the Caladh Inn, go on sale on 9am on Monday March 28 exclusively through the festival website www.hebceltfest.com or through phoneline 01851 621234.
The 21st HebCelt will be held in Stornoway from Wednesday July 13 to Saturday 16. The main festival in the grounds of Lews Castle will be headlined by Runrig, Hayseed Dixie, John McCusker, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and King Creosote.