Celtic Connections 2024: Scotland’s ‘City of Music’ tunes up for its much-loved winter festival | Songlines
Friday, December 15, 2023

Celtic Connections 2024: Scotland’s ‘City of Music’ tunes up for its much-loved winter festival

A stellar line-up of multi-genre talent gears up to gather in Glasgow for Celtic Connections 2024

Kinnaris Quintet

Kinnaris Quintet

Glasgow’s internationally-renowned winter music festival, Celtic Connections, makes its highly anticipated return to the city early in the new year.

Much-loved by musicians worldwide and audiences from near and far, the annual event’s 31st edition takes place from 18 January to 4 February. With more than 300 shows due to be staged, the 2024 festival’s exciting, eclectic and packed programme features an outstanding line-up of global talent, and some very special and unique performances.

Since its humble beginnings back in 1994 – when just over 60 gigs celebrating traditional Scottish music attracted 27,000 folk fans to a single concert hall for the inaugural festival – Celtic Connections has grown significantly in scale. Delivered by Glasgow Life, the 2024 festival will be hosted at 25 venues throughout the city – including Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Old Fruitmarket, The Barony Hall, Saint Luke’s and iconic Barrowland Ballroom. They anticipate welcoming 110,000 attendees to performances ranging from intimate gigs to spectacular large-scale shows.

Angélique Kidjo

Angélique Kidjo

The range of music genres which Celtic Connections spans has broadened and diversified considerably too through its three-decade history. Known as the world’s largest winter music festival of its kind, and Europe’s premier celebration of folk, roots and world music, it in fact has a much wider, more expansive offering than those descriptions suggest. Designed to appeal to a wide range of musical tastes, the ambitious 2024 programme also incorporates Americana, bluegrass, indie, jazz, blues, soul, rock, acoustic, traditional, experimental and orchestral music.

The festival has built up an envied reputation for showcasing a stellar line-up of both established and emerging talent, and the fact that Celtic Connections attracts such a high calibre of artists and acts is testament to how well-regarded it is by musicians worldwide. It also reflects Glasgow’s global status as a UNESCO City of Music.

In what is arguably the festival’s strongest-ever international line-up, the 2024 festival will see musicians descending on Glasgow from almost every corner of the globe, bringing together talent from an extensive range of countries and cultures.

In addition to homegrown talent from Scotland, Ireland and the UK, the programme features a wealth of worldwide performers from as far afield as North America, West Africa, India, Australia, Ukraine, Norway, Sweden and France.

The diverse range of international talent being showcased includes one of the greatest artists in world music today – four-time Grammy Award winner, Angélique Kidjo – as well as Breton harp legend Alan Stivell, award-winning Kyiv quartet DakhaBrakha, and Citadels of the Sun – a unique collaboration of Irish and Rajasthani musicians presented in tandem with Jodhpur RIFF.

Audiences can also look forward to acclaimed global musicians including Carlos Núñez, Fatoumata Diawara, Xabier Díaz, Jembaa Groove, Les Amazones d’Afrique, Blue Giant Orkestar, Aysay and Celtic Odyssée – a star-studded show bringing together renowned artists from the eight European Celtic nations. Many shows offer an exciting combination of international talent, with another highlight seeing one of Québec’s leading traditional trios Genticorum sharing the bill with Caribbean steel pannist Jonathan Scales.

From the States, the wealth of leading acts includes bassist and composer Edgar Meyer, country royalty Carlene Carter, 15-time Grammy Award winner and banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, and virtuoso pianist and singer-songwriter Bruce Hornsby. The stellar American line-up also includes Sarah Jarosz, The Milk Carton Kids, Tommy Emmanuel, Darlingside, Tim O’Brien, Dustbowl Revival, Lambchop, Margo Price and Alison Brown, with Teddy Thompson also performing a set of songs from Nashville’s golden era.

Showcase Scotland – a part of Celtic Connections which facilitates international collaboration – will be partnering with Norway for the 2024 festival to shine the spotlight on Scandinavian talent.

Scottish talent will be represented in full force by a ‘who’s who’ of acclaimed artists including Eddi Reader, Dougie Maclean, Karine Polwart, Julie Fowlis, Rachel Sermanni, King Creosote, Paul Buchanan of The Blue Nile, Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil, Del Amitri’s Justin Currie, Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell, and Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble. The festival also features rising stars such as Becky Sikasa, Nati, Raveloe and Rosie H Sullivan.

Celtic Connections New Voices strand, which enables emerging Scottish artists to embark on new commissions, will also champion young talent by featuring musicians including cellist Alice Allen, fiddler Charlie Grey and Ali Levack – 2020 winner of BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year.

Traditional and contemporary Scottish bands are represented strongly too in the festival’s 2024 programme, which features Skerryvore, Skipinnish, Rura, Talisk, Blazin’ Fiddles, Kinnaris Quintet, Fara, Dàimh, Lau, Heisk, Valtos, Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton, The Maxwell Quartet and many more.

In addition, Scotland’s most celebrated national ensembles – the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Scottish Ensemble and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – will appear at Celtic Connections. The latter is playing in the festival’s spectacular opening concert which will raise the curtain on the 18 day-celebration of music with maximum impact. The event sees the staging of the European premiere of ATTENTION!, the new symphonic work from American Grammy-winning Chris Thile.

A strong contingent of talent from Ireland is always a feature of Celtic Connections, and for 2024 this will be headed up by seminal ensemble, The Bothy Band. One of the most influential and revered of the groups who revolutionised the playing of traditional music in recent generations, its members have not played a major live show together in more than 40 years.

The Irish acts appearing also include John Francis Flynn, Junior Brother, Lankum, the olllam and Altan with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Other festival highlights demonstrating the diversity of the programme include a Mardi Gras night featuring French ensemble Beauxmont, a jazz night featuring modern funk exponent Federation of Disco Pimp, and a centenary concert commemorating Scottish socialist John MacLean, which will see a talented line-up including Billy Bragg and Siobhan Miller shining a light on the significance of the Red Clydeside era through music, poetry and reflections on MacLean’s life and legacy.

In addition, unmissable nights of entertainment are guaranteed by festival favourite Roddy Hart’s ever-popular Roaming Roots Revue, and Scotland’s Bard will be toasted in sensational style at the Celtic Connections Burns Supper, which will feature acclaimed exponents of Burns song, Fiona Hunter and Sean Gray, among others, while other programme favourites like Transatlantic Sessions make a welcome return.

Celtic Connections festival-goers can also expect the usual mix of workshops, dementia-friendly concerts, late night sessions and pop-up performances at the Festival Club, as well as a thriving education programme that will benefit thousands of children and young people.

The full Celtic Connections 2024 programme can be viewed, and tickets can be purchased at www.celticconnections.com

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