Isle of Skye Music Festival

The people’s choice

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The Isle of Skye Music Festival is the fan-friendly, boar burger-boasting live music mash up that remains small, but perfectly formed. Malcolm Jack reports

The fact that Isle of Skye Music Festival scooped the ‘Most Fan Friendly’ gong at the 2006 UK Festival Awards is testimony alone to its quality. Consider that the event took such a prize in spite of being one of the most soggy, windswept outdoor shindigs of its kind in recent memory, and its pedigree becomes all the more impressive.

As one of a range of bijou new festivals taking place across the country every summer in increasing numbers, catering to punters needs in greater detail than at your average musical weekender is, of course, a basic necessity. Skye prides itself on going that bit further, however, extending some intrinsically Highland hospitality to attendees, of a sort that organisers insist can’t be topped.

‘It’s very intimate; really friendly,’ says festival director John Gilbertson, with no shortage of enthusiasm. ‘And that’s in large part to do with how the Highlander is: very hospitable, very welcoming. I think that award we received is a factor of life that exists on Skye itself as much as at the festival. I don’t think the event altogether hinges on having deluxe showers in the campsite. It’s about how you lay the festival out; it’s about how you welcome people to it - it’s about providing that little bit extra.’

The cuisine on sale at Skye is certainly one such bonus: eats on sale range from fresh seafood to wild boar burgers and porridge laced with whiskey. As much of this produce as possible will be drawn from local sources. ‘The reason this is a growing, organic festival is because the locals are behind it,’ says Gilbertson. ‘The Skye festival is run by local people. We offer local charities the opportunity to raise money. And we let all sorts of other people either come and help, get a job or have a stall. So there’s a very good feel about it locally.’

If punters would prefer to get out and soak up the area first hand, there’ll be a free bus service, allowing attendees to take in some of the island’s spectacular countryside en gratis. ‘We encourage people to move about,’ says Gilbertson. ‘There’s a lot more to Skye than just the music heritage: mountains, sea, open space. What more could you want?’

That’s not to suggest, of course, that there won’t be plenty of fine attractions in the confines of the festival itself, because Skye again promises a stellar musical line-up this year. Hard living electro-rockers Kasabian and Primal Scream will headline on the Friday and Saturday respectively. Further down the bill there’ll be appearances from Skye’s own homegrown dance hero Mylo and London indie bad boys Dirty Pretty Things. The Shipping Forecast stage, meanwhile, will offer a whole range of more rootsy treats, including up and coming folk star Seth Lakeman alongside many others. ‘You really can see the very best,’ boasts Gilbertson. ‘Huge acts, all prepared to come to Skye.’

And all of whom should - fingers crossed - be enjoyed sans wellies this time round. Although you can be sure the Skye Festival will go down a storm whatever the weather.

Ashaig Airstrip, Broadford, Skye, Fri 25 - Sat 26 May.

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