Guide to Scotland's Festivals 2015: the best festivals in the north of Scotland

Guide to Scotland's Festivals 2015: the best festivals in the north of Scotland

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival

Brew at the Bog, Howlin' Fling and Belladrum are among the many festivals lighting up Scotland's north

Festivals in Scotland’s central and lower regions are usually the ones which grab the attention, but Colin Robertson finds that our northern territories have much to be proud of

With a veritable feast of culturally-inclined festivals throughout the year, there are plenty hotspots further up the country’s map that should not be overlooked. First up is Brew at the Bog (May), which celebrates both music and beer. Described by Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway as ‘the best new music festival in Scotland’ and taking place at a farm which won ‘Best Unusual Venue’ at 2012’s Scottish Event Awards, the two-day soirée features a host of the best new music from Scotland across three stages. Last year’s line-up featured King Creosote, Casual Sex, and Roman Nose, and as the festival is put on by craft beer crusaders BrewDog, there will also a ton of brewskis to be had.

Taking place just along the A9 is Happyness (May) (see page 38), the Highlands’ premier comedy festival. The four day laugh-fest is scattered across various venues in Inverness, and its line-up is always packed to the brim with some of the best young Scottish comics, but has also begun to attract primetime acts. Dylan Moran, Jenny Éclair, Tommy Tiernan and Alan Davies have all pitched up in recent years.

Kicking off the summer circuit is Howlin’ Fling (Jul), from the folks at Lost Map. Described by the label boss Johnny Lynch as ‘a special lost weekend of music, fun and adventure’, the Hebridean festival did not disappoint in 2014 with stand-out performances by Jens Lekman, Sam Amidon and Tuff Love.

Slightly later is the Highlands’ biggest music event of the year, Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival (Aug). Held on the epic grounds of a historic estate in Beauly, near Inverness, the Proclaimers are confirmed headliners for this year’s event, but if you want to attend the shindig you should act fast, as early bird tickets sold out in a few hours last September.

Curated by Mark Kermode and Linda Ruth Williams, Screenplay (Aug / Sep) (see page 63) is a Shetland film festival which mixes the old with the new and features an array of stellar cinema from Iceland, Sweden and Denmark, as well as looking closer to home. There’s also a solid line-up of workshops, lectures and discussions with the British film industry’s heavy hitters, which last year included Brian Cox and Joanna Hogg.

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival

The lineup at Belladrum gets bigger and more impressive with each passing year: 2018’s event features Amy MacDonald, Frightened Rabbit, Craig Charles, the LaFontaines, Lucy Spraggan, and Tide Lines. This small festival has grown from a one-day, one-stage event and now sprawls over three glorious days with multiple stages…

Belladrum, Inverness

Thu 1 Aug

Times vary / Prices to be confirmed

Fri 2 Aug

Times vary / Prices to be confirmed

Sat 3 Aug

Times vary / Prices to be confirmed


South London DIY indie trio.

Band on the Wall, Manchester

Fri 15 Feb

£11.50 / 01618 341786

The Boileroom, Guildford

Tue 29 Jan


Exchange, Bristol

Thu 31 Jan

£9.90 / 0117 930 4538

Also at:


Shetland’s annual film festival curated by film critics Linda Ruth Williams and Mark Kermode features screenings, lectures and panel discussions involving national and international film industry professionals and film academics while still maintaining a commitment to local film makers of all ages.

Mareel, Lerwick

Fri 30 Aug

Times & prices to be confirmed / 01595 743843

Sat 31 Aug

Times & prices to be confirmed / 01595 743843

Sun 1 Sep

Times & prices to be confirmed / 01595 743843

…and 7 more dates until 8 Sep

Brew at the Bog

A day of great music and great beer with BrewDog, the coolest craft beer label on the block, and Bogbain Farm, which was voted Scotland's Best Unusual Venue at the Scottish Event Awards. 2016's line-up included Idlewild and C Duncan.

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