Celtic Connections festival kicks off in Glasgow

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Scotland’s biggest winter musical festival got underway this afternoon in Glasgow, and looks like the perfect way to beat the winter blues with a celebration of Scottish music.

Don’t think ‘Celtic’ music is really your cup of tea? Well don’t despair, as the organisers of the Celtic Connections festival are taking a fairly loose interpretation of the term… as well as the term ‘Scottish!’ Rather than simply being a two-week-long ceilidh, the festival aims to celebrate the influence Scotland has had on music across the world – meaning a huge assortment of acts from blues guitarist Ry Cooder to 10-time Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin, best known for his cheery 1988 hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Checking out the official programme of events, revellers have a lot to be excited about, with a packed schedule involving about 1,500 artists in more than 300 events taking place across the city throughout the month. It all kicks off with today’s torchlight parade through the streets of Glasgow city centre (let’s hope the ice has melted) and ends in fittingly explosive style with the final night party on Friday 31st at Glasgow Art School.

While the Celtic Connections festival is sure to appeal most to those with a love for traditional folk music, you may be surprised by just how much is on offer – this year even sees the festival launching its first club night, the incredibly diverse Balkanarama. This event will be held at the Old Fruitmarket tavern this Saturday, and features belly-dancing, DJs, house bands and Hungarian delicacies – how’s that for a night of variety?

The festival isn’t restricted to Scottish acts after all, though it does offer a great chance for local talent to get time in the spotlight too. It’s not too easy to dismiss the event as being just for folk fans either – after all, how many groups, from the Chieftains to the Corrs, have gone on to great success through bringing the traditional folk style to a wider audience?

No wonder the festival has grown so much in popularity over its 17 year history, with more than 100,000 people attending last year. With so many events taking place over the next two weeks, it’s a great chance to see some fantastic live performances in Scotland’s second city. And seen as I’ll be heading across the border for Burns Night next week, I think it’s worth giving a look!

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