Glasgow Royal Concert Hall was one of the venues used [Photo: Gaelle Berri]
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall was one of the venues used [Photo: Gaelle Berri]

Celtic Connections online a huge success

The digital-first Celtic Connections festival has been hailed as a great success with an abundance of international viewers and unprecedented number of tickets sold.

The event normally brings thousands of visitors to Glasgow each January, but with the coronavirus pandemic, the event had to change this year to ensure that it still brought traditional music to the masses. With audiences from over 60 countries and over 27,000 tickets and passes sold, the digital event has been a huge success. Over 10.5 million minutes of musical entertainment have been enjoyed by viewers over the last 19 days.

The programme was made up of unique digital content from over 30 specially commissioned projects and performances that were filmed across many of Glasgow’s much-loved venues. Internationally artists contributed to the diverse line-up by recording performances remotely in over 10 locations, including Mali, Sudan, Nashville and Rajasthan.

The closing night rounded off the 19 days of entertainment in incredible style with a special 90-minute programme celebrating some of the best moments of the festival.

The Celtic Connections 2021 Farewell Concert also showed some unique moments that had not previously been aired before, including a special performance in The Hydro with Hazel Whyte from the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland playing in the empty venue as dancers Jamiel Laurence and Katie Miller perform a choreographed sequence. This is the first performance to take place in The Hydro in almost a year.

Over 100 musicians have taken part in Celtic Connections 2021, showcasing their art to the world. The festival created a safe space for musicians to come together to play and make music, for technical and filming crews to apply their talents and for venues to open.

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall was one of the venues used [Photo: Gaelle Berri]

The festival programme was both ambitious and diverse and delivered on a promise to promote wellbeing and optimism during these difficult times.

Musician Sorren MacLean, said of being part of the opening night of the festival: ‘Honoured to be part of such a special night, playing in the band for the opening night of Celtic Connections surrounded by friends I’ve not seen or played with for almost a year! Mon the music!’

Annually the festival welcomes the world to Glasgow, but this year Celtic Connections took Glasgow to the world with audiences at home and abroad relishing the opportunity to watch such a high level of musical entertainment in the comfort of their own home.

Audience member Agot Hamre from Norway wrote to the festival to say: ‘I have followed the online festival from day one from my home in Norway. I am impressed by the way you have managed to create a festival feeling even if we all watch and listen from a distance.’

With Niamh de Búrca from Dublin writing to say: ‘What a great show, really enjoyed it! Loved all the songs, singers and musicians…thanks a million! Don’t know how you managed to create an atmosphere with no audience, but you did!! Maith sibh uilig! (Well done all!)’

Celtic Connections is delivered by the charity Glasgow Life and is funded by Glasgow City Council, Creative Scotland and The Scottish Government Festivals EXPO Fund.

A performance at St Luke’s in Celtic Connections 2021 [Photo: Gaelle Berri]

Donald Shaw, creative producer for Celtic Connections, said: ‘The last 19 days have instilled in us all a renewed sense of hope and optimism. Sharing our music and our culture will continue to be an essential part of our human existence and it has been incredible to be able to facilitate this, despite the challenges. The feedback we have had really shows just how important music is to people and we are delighted to have been able to help in some way brighten up the darkest January in recent history.

‘As the curtain falls on this digital Celtic Connections 2021, I’d like to say such a huge thanks to so many people, to the community of musicians across the world who have gone above and beyond to provide the most incredible music, to the team behind the scenes who have made this happen and to the audiences who have tuned in and supported the festival from all across the world. A heartfelt thank you to you all.’

The ‘All Access’ ticket gave access to all of the concerts taking place across the 19 days. It was also possible to purchase tickets for individual shows.

The Celtic Connections Rover Membership Programme was back for 2021 and it welcomed the highest number of Rovers ever to sign up to the programme, with 634 packages sold. The Celtic Rover Digital package included access to a host of exclusive Celtic Rover extras as well as the Celtic Connections Festival pass which gave the individual access to all of the festival content over the 19 days.