VIDEO: Edinburgh aims to emulate success of Celtic Connections with spring 'Tradfest'

Edinburgh has unveiled an ambitious bid to stage an equivalent event to Celtic Connections in the spring - which will take over the city’s major concert venues and spill out into the streets.

By Brian Ferguson
Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 6:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 6:27 pm

Music promoters have vowed to bring artists and audiences from around the world to the Scottish capital each April and May to try to emulate Glasgow’s winter festival.

It now attracts more than 130,000 people each year and features 300 events spread across 35 different stages.

Promoters Soundhouse have secured funding to stage 11 days of events in April and May under the Tradfest banner.

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Glasgow band Talisk are among the acts performing at 'Tradfest' this year.

Drawing from the legacy of events like the Edinburgh People’s Festival, which was first staged in 1951, Tradfest aims outwith the peak tourism season.

This year’s event will feature musicians from Ireland, Sweden, Canada and the United States, joining Scottish favourites like Talisk, Adam Sutherland, Kathleen MacInnes and Fiona Hunter.

The Usher Hall, the Queen’s Hall, the Traverse Theatre and the Filmhouse cinema will all host events at Tradfest this year, with organisers hoping to triple audiences within two years.

Soundhouse founder Douglas Robertson said he wanted to work with other promoters to get them to programme gigs to coincide with the dates of Tradfest.

Mr Robertson said: “The sky is is the limit as far as I am concerned. There is huge potential in this event. I can’t see why it can’t grow considerably over the years.

“If a winter festival in Glasgow can attract as many tickets as it does then a spring music in Edinburgh should be able to succeed.

“There’s no doubt Edinburgh could sustain a big event in the spring. Look at how many hotels there are in the city. The weather is a lot less severe than in January and February.

“To me, a festival feels like a festival when there are things happening on the streets. Otherwise it’s just a collection of events inside closed buildings. Outdoor events are very often the experience that people have of any festival.”

Mr Robertson said he would be seeking new funders of the festival and commercial backers to allow it to expand in future years. His first event has secured £18,500 from Creative Scotland and £5000 from the city council. In comparison, Celtic Connections was awarded £185,000 from the city council, £183,000 from Creative Scotland and £100,000 from the Scottish Government for its most recent event.

Mr Robertson added: “Celtic Connections has a huge amount of support from the city council in Glasgow - it’s effectively their festival.

“It’s a very good time to have an Edinburgh. It’s not into the main tourism season so there is space in hotels and it should be possible to get deals.

“You meet people at Celtic Connections who travel to the event from places like the United States every year. There are ways that we can do that. We want to attract that audience.

“We’ve had very little time to work on the event this year, but we will be looking for increased funding and sponsorship for future years. We will certainly be going to brewers and distillers to try to get their support. It would be great if they came on board.”