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Celtic Connections 2023 will be the 30th edition of the winter music festival   Picture: Celtic Connections
Celtic Connections 2023 will be the 30th edition of the winter music festival Celtic Connections

Why Celtic Connections remains so special

Donald Shaw looks forward to the winter festival's 30th outing

Celtic Connections has established itself as a firm fixture in Glasgow's culture diary. Here, Donald Shaw looks forward to the 30th edition of the ever-popular festival


For the last 30 years, Celtic Connections has been bringing music and camaraderie to venues across Glasgow every winter.

Our 30th edition takes place this January and it’s a hugely important and poignant moment for us as a festival, especially considering the last couple of years.

It would be fair to say that there was a sense of apprehension for that very first festival back in 1994 – many questioned the idea of celebrating Scotland’s folk music on such a large scale during the dark month of January.

However, against the odds, the first festival was hailed a huge success. We staged 66 events across one venue and welcomed 27,000 attendees.

Internationally-renowned

Since then we’re lucky enough to have grown into an internationally-renowned event with over 300 events across 30 stages and an annual attendance figure of over 110,000.

The Fruitmarket is one of the festival venues
The Fruitmarket is one of the festival venues

I can’t quite believe how far we’ve come and that we are marking three decades of the festival.

Celtic Connections is synonymous with January in the city and bringing the streets and venues to life in those dark weeks.

We have Glaswegians and other visitors to thank for braving the wind and rain each winter to join us.

The last 30 years of success is also down to the talented musicians, technical crews and everyone else behind the scenes that makes an event like this happen.

It would be fair to say that there was a sense of apprehension for that very first festival back in 1994 – many questioned the idea of celebrating Scotland’s folk music on such a large scale during the dark month of January.

Donald Shaw

The festival is a place for established and emerging musicians to create and perform, and for audiences to enjoy the cultural exponents of our country and other nations from across the world. I believe that is truly special and the last few years have only reinforced that.

Our 30th edition will see us pay homage to the musicians, bands and artists who have contributed, supported and inspired the festival over the last three decades, but importantly it is also a moment to look to the future.

Celtic Connections 2023 is an opportunity to commemorate how far the festival and the Scottish music scene has come, and to also celebrate the fact that we are still here.

We’ve got a host of collaborations planned for 2023 that I can't wait to see realised, and once again we’ll be joined by some of the best artists from home and right around the world.

'I can’t quite believe how far we’ve come'
'I can’t quite believe how far we’ve come'

As always, West End venues, which are home to unforgettable musical memories for so many of us, will be at the heart of the festival.

We’ll be gathering at venues, both large and intimate – from Maryhill Community Central Hall, Mackintosh Church and the Hug and Pint, to Òran Mór, Cottiers, SWG3 and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – to connect with one another and the music on stage.

Sharing our music and our arts is a vital part of our human existence, connecting us and enriching lives, and we have missed that – I think the people of Glasgow have too.

Celtic Connections has showcased established and emerging musicians
Celtic Connections has showcased established and emerging musicians

West End highlights 2023

  • Mackintosh Church - SAY Award Winner 2022 Fergus McCreadie - Friday January 20
  • Òran Mór - Bab L'Bluz - Friday January 20
  • SWG3 - Talisk and Project Smok - Friday January 20
  • Cottiers - When Mountains Meet - Weds 25 & Thurs January 26
  • Maryhill Community Halls - Ceilidh Dance - Saturday January 28 2023
  • Kelvingrove museum - James Grant & The Hallelujah Strings - Saturday February 4
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