This article has been written with the support of Calmac. Find out more.
Hot Hebrides: 5 cultural gems of the isles
Check out these festivals and cultural hubs dotted all over the islands of Scotland's west coast
Think you know what island culture looks like? Think again. The Hebrides are famously one of the jewels in Scotland's crown of natural wonders, but they've got a festival scene and a cultural buzz to rival Edinburgh at the Fringe. Hop on the ferry and discover these hot spots for yourself.
It's one of the quickest music festivals to sell out and probably the furthest flung – all of which makes Howlin' Fling deeply, painfully hip. Taking place on the Isle of Eigg, the Fling's organised by music label Lost Map, under the guiding hand of Johnny Pictish Trail Lynch. He's also an Eigg local – which definitely ups this wee isle's place in the cool stakes.
The lineup gets announced at the last minute, but with a roster that includes the delightful Kid Canaveral, Rozi Plain, and noisy duo Tuff Love – and plenty of pals to call on – Lost Map always puts together a belter of a weekend party.
Plus, just look at this coastline.
No, really. LOOK.
Yeah, we feel you.
Check out Howlin' Fling. Sailings to Eigg leave from Mallaig.
Talking about hip, take a look at this beard.
That's James Edwyn, from James Edwyn and the Borrowed Band. He was one of the winners of CalMac Culture Music in 2016, and he's playing HebCelt in Stornoway this year. We like him – and not just because of his lustrous face locks. He's one of the many fab artists on HebCelt's lineup, which also features this year the mighty Lau. We're hoping that they'll play this beauty.
Discover what's in store at HebCelt. Sailings to Stornoway leave from Ullapool.
Comar: Mull's cultural capital
Mull's got plenty going for it, culturally-speaking – and we're not just talking about Mull Historical Society (we still have a soft spot for them). Take Comar: one of Scotland's most inventive and enticing cultural centres. Think part CCA, part DCA – this gem of a place is tucked away in Tobermory, and punches well above its weight, welcoming music from across the spectrum as well as touring theatre shows, comedians and dancers. A few years ago it hosted its own commission from the Katy Perry-esque stylings of cutting-edge video artist, Rachel Maclean, called The Weepers.
Fast forward to 2017 and Rachel's been picked to represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale. So good work for getting in there first, Comar.
Find out more about Comar. Sailings to Mull land at Craignure (from Oban), Fishish (from Lochaline) and Tobermory (from Kilchoan).
Located in Stornoway, An Lanntair is the beating cultural heart of the Outer Hebrides. There's a bustling programme all year-round but if you want to head up when there's something special on, we suggest going over for Faclan, the Hebridean Book Festival, in the autumn – booklovers, you've got no excuse.
But An Lanntair's a joy whenever you go. Plus, their lovely cafe serves Isle of Harris Gin which – apart from being delicious – comes in the world's most stunningly designed bottle.
An Lanntair (@anlanntair) on Instagram: "GOLDEN ORB Made especially for the Harris Tweed Festival '16 and since then has been enjoyed by…"
Let's look at that bottle again, shall we?
misslhm (@misslhm) on Instagram
Get acquainted with An Lanntair. Sailings to Stornoway leave from Ullapool.
Tiree Music Festival
You might know wee Tiree as a surfer's paradise. We know it as the home of Tiree Music Festival, which is sort of like the most fun ceilidh you've ever been to. But on an island. One that looks like this.
This year's lineup includes trad superstars Skerryvore and Skipinnish, plus the ever so lovely Scouting for Girls and celtgrass up-and-comers Jigjam.
Celtgrass, you ask?
Celtgrass, we say.
Get your dance on at Tiree Music Festival. Sailings to Tiree leave from Oban.