Celtic Connections & Coastal Connections

Celtic Connections will celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters with a full day of special events all anchored to the maritime traditions that have shaped the country’s history. Coastal Connections, a one-off festival within a festival, will take place in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on January 18, offering single-ticket access to a packed programme of ocean-themed music, talks, film, storytelling, exhibitions and workshops.

Funded through EventScotland’s International Programme supporting Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, Coastal Connections will present musicians from more than 20 islands, coasts and peninsulas including Tiree-based Skerryvore, Oban-founded Capercaillie, Hebridean super-group Daimh, North Uist-born Julie Fowlis, Gnoss from Shetland, Orkney roots group Fara, Fiddler Gillian Frame from Arran, and Ceol Nan Eilean from Benbecula. Cape Breton neighbours Anita MacDonald & Ben Miller appear, along with projects by Feis Rois , Lochaber-based Ingrid Henderson and award-winning duo Mairearad & Anna from The Black Isle/Wester Ross.

In keeping with the festival’s strong commitment to roots music from and inspired by the edge of the Atlantic, the event will celebrate the unique heritage and diverse culture of the coasts and waters of Scotland. Given the rich seam of folklore that runs along our shorelines, myths, legends and storytelling will be a recurring theme of Coastal Connections and one of the highlights will be the first ever appearance of Vision Mechanics’ latest huge outdoor spectacular with support from EventScotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters and Creative Scotland.*

The waters around Scotland and the shore-to-shore journeys made by residents and visitors will be celebrated with a musical contribution from Ferry Tales, a forthcoming production from the National Theatre of Scotland, with the support of Caledonian MacBrayne and their ferries. Scotland’s seas can be treacherous, of course, and Coastal Connections will also present Launch!: an immersive performance combining footage from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s film archive with live music. The event, created by award-winning film curator Shona Thomson and sound artist/beatboxer Jason Singh, will draw inspiration from the footage, sounds and stories they discovered within the archive of this 200-year-old organisation. It will also feature a guest performance by singer-songwriter Jenny Sturgeon of acclaimed alt-folk band, Salt House.

Announcing the Year of Coasts and Waters event, Celtic Connections creative producer Donald Shaw said: “Landscape and culture are very closely linked and since Celtic communities have often been island or shore-based, there’s a strong maritime element to many Celtic songs and legends. Scotland’s Year of Coasts And Waters is a great opportunity to explore that rich heritage through music and drama, and we are delighted to be presenting Coastal Connections as a festival within a festival that already celebrates the very best of Celtic culture.”

Councillor David McDonald, depute leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Coastal Connections adds a new and exciting element to a festival that is already a highlight of Scotland’s cultural year. I’m particularly pleased that Songs Of The Clyde will feature alongside music from the furthest reaches of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands on a packed programme that looks set to be among the UK’s hottest tickets of 2020.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland's Director of Events, said: "Coastal Connections will be one of the early events to herald the arrival of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 and we are delighted to be supporting it. Scotland is the perfect stage for events and this gathering of musicians and performers will bring Scotland’s maritime traditions to the fore, immersing audiences in the culture of our coasts and waters while celebrating the treasured natural assets that are enjoyed year-round by visitors and local communities.”

Robbie Drummond, managing director of CalMac Ferries, said: “Celtic Connections helps brighten up Januarys in Glasgow so what better way to kick off the Year of Coasts and Waters than with an island festival in the city.”

(*Further details about the Vision Mechanics outdoor spectacular will be revealed at the full Year of Coasts and Waters programme launch in mid-November.)


Celtic Connections 2020 runs from January 16 to February 2. Since the programme was launched on October 2, tickets have sold briskly: the Roaming Roots Revue special 70th-birthday tribute to Bruce Springsteen, sold out within 48 hours.

The Coastal Connections festival-in-a-day enhances the previously published Celtic Connections programme and today, a raft of additional acts and events is announced, including:

· An extra performance of Born To Run: a Roaming Roots Revue 70th-birthday tribute to Bruce Springsteen. Staged in the Old Fruitmarket on Monday, January 27, the show will feature the same stellar cast as the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall performance on January 26, including Lisa Hanningan, Karine Polwart, Craig Finn (Hold Steady), Jonathan Wilson, Ryan Bingham, Phil Campbell and The Rails as well as house band Roddy Hart And The Lonesome Fire. Elsewhere at the festival, a second show by Noah Gundersen with support from Bess Atwell has been scheduled in response to popular demand. It can now be seen at both 3pm and 8pm in the Tron Theatre on Saturday, January 18.

· 365: Stories + Music, an epic cross-artform collaboration by famed folk musician Aidan O’Rourke and leading Scottish author James Robertson, performed within the breath-taking setting of the Mackintosh Church, Glasgow on Sunday, February 2. With Kit Downes on piano, Sorren Maclean on guitar and special guests Tam Dean Burn, Gerda Stevenson and Iona Zajac. O’Rourke’s music and Robertson’s stories will be encased within a newly created immersive installation designed by Yann Sezmec, which will be displayed within the Royal Concert Hall foyer for the duration of Celtic Connections 2020.

· Bogha-frois: LGBT+ Voices In Folk returns on February 2 following its hugely acclaimed 2019 debut. Alongside Gaelic artists Kim Carnie and Mischa MacPherson, singer-songwriter Hannah Rarity and singer/harpist Gillian Fleetwood, featured acts at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’s Strathclyde Suite include Marit Fält, Scarlett Randle, Finn Anderson and Megan D, together with a brand new collaboration between folk-pop songster Man Of The Minch, Kinnaris Quintet fiddler Laura Wilkie and award-winning poet/theatre-maker Leyla Josephine. (Bogha-frois is Gaelic for rainbow.)

· Jazz greats Tommy Smith & Brian Kellock join Gaelic star Kathleen MacInnes & Under The Surface for a night at The Mackintosh Church on Friday, January 31.

· Blue Rose Code presents This Is Caledonian Soul at the Fruitmarket on Thursday, January 30. Accompanied by a 14-piece band, Ross Wilson (aka Blue Rose Code) explores the roots and nature of Scottish music, with the help of a line-up of special guests.

· Scots World folk fusion favourites Moshie’s Bagel join Fado star Ana Moura in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on January 24.

· Country stars Brandy Clark with Heather Rankin (best known for her long career with The Rankin Family) play St Luke’s on February 1.

· Scottish punk new-wave legends The Rezillos play Oran Mor on Friday, January 17

· London-based Americana quartet The Wandering Hearts play Oran Mor on January 23

Other new highlights include Guitar Summit: Will McNicol with Innotet, Tim Edey, Abaji & Innes Watson. There will also be a Breton music night featuring Annie Ebrel Trio with Jean-Michel Veillon. Festival favourite fiddle/cello stars Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas with Aoife Scott & Ron Block return for a weekend of workshops plus concert.

Dirk Powell will share a stage with Smith & McLennan. The Outside Track – a Scottish, Irish and Cape Breton five-piece, are supported by Eabhal, winners of Hands Up For Trad’s Battle Of The Folk Bands, 2018. Further new additions include The High Rolling Sessions with Tim Edey & Special Guests; Jarlath Henderson with Ailá and Ryan Young & Jenn Butterworth; Ewan McLennan and Support; Robyn Hitchcock and Annie Booth; the Ciaran Ryan Band with the Chris Gray Band.

World music announcements include a performance by French Cameroon star Valérie Ekoumè in the Drygate on Saturday, January 18, plus an Indian /Gaelic collaboration featuring Mischa MacPherson, who will join Svari-Kanti in the Tramway on Saturday, February 1.

There will be a special series of 5pm recitals featuring acoustic up-close performances from various leading lights of the trad scene including: Duncan Chisholm, Adam Sutherland, Chris Stout & Catriona MacKay, Dave Milligan, Tessa Lark, Lauren MacColl, Paul Anderson, Simon Thoumire and Malin Lewis.

Inclusive rock band MusicALL: The Fridays return with an entertaining array of singalong song, and a special guest performance by vocalist Phil Campbell of blues rock group, The Temperance Movement.

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