This year marks the 20th year of a pioneering traditional music programme that carved the way for many of Scotland’s top traditional musicians today.
Young musicians throughout Scotland will take to the road next week as the annual Fèisean ceilidh trails kick off with around 200 performances scheduled to take place up and down the country.
The talented young musicians and singers will be entertaining audiences with traditional Gaelic music, song and dance over the next couple of weeks at venues across Scotland from Callander to Isle of Coll, Glenelg to Glasgow and Portree to Paisley.
The cèilidh trail programme was established by Fèis Rois, based in Dingwall, Ross-shire, but has now been adopted by a number of other Fèisean.
The very first cèilidh trail featured well-known professional musicians including multi award winning Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis (who provided the theme song for Disney Pixar’s Brave), BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician 2017 Rachel Newton and well-known west coast accordion player and piper Mairearad Green.
The programme gives young musicians and singers, aged 16 to 25, the opportunity to take part in a professional summer tour through their local Fèis with support from a team of musicians and specialist tutors.
This unique opportunity offers participants training in the core skills required for a career in the creative industries, particularly music. Participants have the opportunity to gain a PDA in Performance or Sound Production, through a collaboration with West Highland College.
With support from Creative Scotland and HIE, cèilidh trails help young musicians develop their performance skills and provide a widespread traditional music entertainment programme in the Highlands and beyond.
The cèilidh trails this year are Fèis an Earraich (Skye), Fèis Fhoirt (Stirling & Trossachs), Fèis Rois (Ross-shire), Fèis Lochabair (Lochaber), Fèis Phaislig (Paisley), Fèis Inbhir Narainn (Nairn) and Fèis Latharna (Argyll).
As well as doing a local ceilidh trail, Fèis Rois will also have groups performing in the south of Scotland to Orkney, English folk festivals including Sidmouth and Cambridge as well as Festival Interceltique de Lorient in France.
Arthur Cormack, chief executive, Fèisean nan Gàidheal said: ‘Our cèilidh trails are raring to go and entertain audiences this summer. They go through a week of intensive training and preparation at Fèis Alba in Plockton with musicians from cèilidh trails from around Scotland prior to kicking off their tours.
‘The cèilidh trail is a phenomenal opportunity for these young musicians to get a taste of what life as a professional touring musician can be like.
‘Not only do they play the gigs but they are involved in the organisation, marketing and tech side of the tour – it’s hard work but great fun at the same time and I’m sure people who come along to the gigs won’t be disappointed.
‘There is a mix of sessions, formal and informal concerts as well as family ceilidhs so there is something for everyone. This summer you’d be hard pushed to be in a town or city in Scotland that won’t have at least one cèilidh trail performance!’
For further details of all Cèilidh Trail events across Scotland, visit https://www.feisean.org/events/ceilidh-trails/.