Connect Festival makes a triumphant return

Morag Bootland visits the Connect music festival on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

I’M late to the party, but it’s better late than never. Connect Festival opened its gates on Friday and welcomed revellers to Ingliston Show Ground for its glorious return. Those who had attended the day before were treated to sets from rip-roaring headliners IDLES and the irresistible beats of Jon Hopkins, along with a secret set from Bernard Butler and Jessie Buckley on the intimate Gardener’s Cottage Stage. But I arrive as fresh as a daisy on Saturday afternoon while the festival is just starting to warm up on day two. A headline set from the block-rockin’ Chemical Brothers awaits.

Making a bee-line for the Guitars and Other Machines Stage to catch a set from Galway-based Indie rockers NewDad. Julie Dawson’s Irish lilt just adds to the beauty of her vocals and the set starts off with lots of jangly guitars, building to a crescendo of feedback and ramped up energy as it went on. This was the band’s first visit to Edinburgh, but I’m sure it won’t be their last.

There’s plenty going on at the Speakeasy where Saturday’s highlights are Stuart Braithwaite & James Graham of The Twilight Sad and Mogwai respectively were ‘In Conversation’ about life in the Scottish music scene. Comedy from Leyla Josephine, amongst others, goes down well with the punters who enjoy relaxing on the big cushions while they enjoy a good laugh.

NewDad vocalist Julie Dawson

There are lots of food outlets on site and I heave a sigh of relief that there is now so much more to choose from than when I first started out my journey into the world of festivals. Munching a mushroom risotto, I suss out the arena and get my bearings before being unable to resist a dance courtesy of Caribou on the Main Stage, or the Grand Parade, as it is known at Connect. The Canadian musician, Dan Snaith works alone in the studio, but is joined by three band members for his live show. Their set is well received and fabulously heavy on drums, so what starts out as a few tapping toes inevitably builds into a full-blown boogie from the enthusiastic crowd.


There’s dancing to be had all day at the Unknown Pleasures tent. Sets from Glasgow’s Nightwave, Dance System, Krystal Klear and headliner Erol Alkan keeping dance music fans moving their feet into the evening. It’s refreshing to be surrounded by lots of other 40-somethings, who like me, probably don’t get the opportunity to dance quite so often these days.

I’m tempted to return to the Guitars and Other Machines stage for a headline set from an old favourite. Ride are playing their 1990 debut album Nowhere, but I can’t resist the lure of the lasers and high tail it to the Grand Parade for the ever-impressive Chemical Brothers. The duo’s set kicks off with the irresistibly energetic Block Rockin’ Beats and is packed with bangers. The hypnotic visuals have the crowd captivated and a raft of giant balloons are released into the crowd to bounce around with the lasers. We are treated to classics like Hey Boy Hey Girl and the pounding bass line and strings of Galvanize. There’s an extra wee treat with a cover of New Order’s Temptation that has the crowd singing their hearts out.

The Chemical Brothers

I was lucky enough to be at Connect Festival in its previous manifestation as Scotland’s first boutique music festival. Aimed at a more mature crowd, it was held in the glorious grounds of Inveraray Castle on the shores of Loch Fyne. It was an incredible weekend and now fast-forward 14 years and I’ve only got great things to say about this new incarnation. An eclectic and well-curated line-up, great food and drink and good vibes all-round mean this is one to watch for 2023.

Presale for 2023 tickets will be available from 9am on Wednesday 31st August. Connect fans have exclusive first access to next summer’s tickets by signing up to the Connect database at

General sale tickets will be available 9am on Friday 2 September via

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