Celtic Connections 2021: 10,000 tickets are sold in advance to music fans in 44 countries
and live on Freeview channel 276
Venues across Glasgow were opened up for the filming of exclusive performances for the festival, which will be launched tonight with a 90-minute “big band” show recorded at the Royal Concert Hall, where the event has been based since its launch in 1994.
Organisers have managed to create more than 30 different shows for the festival, which will be be staged across 19 consecutive nights and will feature more than 100 musicians.
The entire festival can be experience for £40, while tickets for individual concerts and performances are also available.
Festival favourites Admiral Fallow, Shooglenifty, Talisk, Kinnaris Quintet, Manran, Braebach, Fara, Blue Rose Code, Blazin’ Fiddles and Elephant Sessions will all be performing during the event, which is being backed by the city council, the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland.
Biffy Clyro singer Simon Neil, Idlewild singer Roddy Woomble and Deacon Blue stars Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh will be making special appearances.
Music fans in Japan, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Russia and South Korea passes offering access to the festival had been sold in advance of the online festival, which will feature Gaelic singing stars Josie Duncan, Mischa Macpherson, Deirdre Graham and Kathleen MacInnes.
Musicians from Quebec, Rajasthan, California, Galicia, Sweden, the United States, Ireland and Denmark will all be appearing virtually from their own countries, while the “digital first festival” will also feature performances filmed in Inverness and the Hebrides.
The opening night concert will feature fiddler Duncan Chisholm and the Scottish Ensemble, Imar, Fiona Hunter and Kinnaris Quintet.
Other highlights are expected to include a Burns Night concert with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Eddi Reader, Karen
Matheson and Robyn Stapleton, Love and Money frontman James Grant performing with the Hallelujah Chorus and an intimate “song circle” show hosted by Karine Polwart, which will also feature Reader, Rab Noakes, Siobhan Miller and Findlay Napier.
A special edition of Roddy Hart’s annual Roaming Roots Revue showcase will feature Neil, Ross and McIntosh, as well as folk trio The Staves, award-winning trio Lau and singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni.
Woomble will be appearing in a concert curated by the An Tobar arts centre on the Isle of Mull, which will also feature Mairearad Green, Sorren MacLean and Hannah Fisher.
Further afield, Bassekou Kouyate will perform with his quartet of fellow instrumentalists Ngoni Ba in his home village in Mali, Galician musician Xabier Diaz will appear from his native Santiago de Compostela, eight female musicians will play as as the sun rises in Rajasthan and Argentine-Swedish star José González will perform at a venue in Gothenburg.
Donald Shaw, the festival’s creative producer, said: “Every year we look forward to welcoming the world to Celtic Connections but this year we are delighted to be taking Celtic Connections to the world.
"We hope the next 19 days of entertainment reconnects music fans the world over and offers a hand of musical friendship to artists and audiences everywhere.
"Arts and music are such an important part of every nation’s culture and we hope that by showcasing our own rich musical legacy here in Scotland and the music of so many artists from across the world we can help instil a sense of hope and optimism that 2021 will bring with it a world in which the arts are celebrated and regain their rightful place as a vital part of society everywhere.”
Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland, one of the festival’s main funders, said: “It’s only when the first notes are heard at the Celtic Connections Opening Concert that you can be sure the musical year has finally begun.
"The early days of January have tingled with excitement in the build-up to the 2021 festival and now, across 19 scintillating days and nights, audiences everywhere will be blown away by the infectious energy of the performers and the beauty of our magnificent venues.
"Glasgow has proved yet again that it has few rivals as a city of world-class music.”
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop added: ““For the past 26 years Celtic Connections has established itself as the main stage for audiences to enjoy and experience Scotland’s traditional music.
"This edition’s digital festival will captivate many more audiences from across the world by bringing online performances and events into homes for the first time.”