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Scotland's summer festival secret: trad music fests are the place to be
From great music to fringe events, open air pools to white sands beaches – the best adventures you could have this summer with dose of trad culture
No T in the Park, no problem. The summer music festival calendar is jam-packed with all manner of great events, but, dare we say it, there's more to explore than the same old pop and indie lineups. For adventurous, open-minded sorts, seeking out new music with spectacular views and intimate surroundings, we reckon you might strike gold trying something a bit different.
It's probably the Scottish music scene's worst kept secret, but some of the country's best new music is coming from the trad world. Trad music has long on the rise, and you only need to glance at the annual SAY Award longlist for confirmation. Lau, Rachel Newton, RM Hubbert are just a few trad artists who have made the list (or bagged the gong).
So if you think this might be the summer to dip your toes in the trad music fest open air pool (read on to get that one), our recommendation is that you jump in with both feet while the water is hot... and this summer it's supposed to be very hot. Here's our pick of five of the best trad music fests to check out this Scotland and a few more dates to add to your calendar beyond...
When: 2–3 June
First of all, Oban Live is held on a shinty ground, Mossfield Stadium, and that in itself is a unique proposition. Second of all, it's the biggest live music event in Argyll & Bute, born following an open-air concert celebrating the 10th anniversary of trad-fusion band Skerryvore. The 2017 edition of the festival sees Skerryvore's return, this time with Toploader headlining (they of 'Dancing in the Moonlight' fame). The bill also includes SAY Award longlisted Admiral Fallow, it's very own fringe lineup of events and the opportunity to visit one the beautiful seafood capital of Scotland.
Stonehaven Folk Festival
When: 6–9 Jul
If you're looking for an altogether more intimate festival experience, Stonehaven Folk Festival, just 15 miles south of Aberdeen, has been around since 1989 and boasts more than 50 fringe events from concerts in the Town Hall to singarounds in local pubs and around the harbour. An authentic folk experienced is guaranteed, with some of the weekend's performers hosting workshops. There's also an Aqua Ceilidh at the town's open air swimming pool. Yes, you read that correctly. Jarlath Henderson is the Friday headliner, while young emerging trad talents Fara could be one to watch on Saturday.
Tiree Music Festival
When: 14–16 Jul
Surrounded by white sand beaches gently warmed by the North Atlantic Gulf Stream, Tiree Music Festival is one of the jewels in the trad music crown. Nicked named 'Hawaii of the North', this small Hebridean island, home to 650 residents, is a mecca for wind surfers the world over. Launched by Tiree local and Skerryvore band member Daniel Gillespie and fellow Tiree local Stewart MacLennan, you'd be hard pressed to find a more intimate and adventurous festival on the British isles and beyond than TMF. The 2017 lineup includes Scouting for Girls, Siobhan Miller and Dougie Maclean.
Hebridean Celtic Festival
When: 19–22 Jul
Celebrating its 20th edition this year, HebCelt is the self-proclaimed flagship event of the islands – when you look at the history and the lineup, it's hard to argue. Hosted on the grounds of Lews Castle, and overlooking Stornoway habour on the Hebridean island of Lewis, HebCelt boasts the best and the wildest of the outer Hebrides and attracts 16,000 festival-goers as well as the biggest names in trad music. The 2017 lineup highlights include The Waterboys, Imelda May, Lau, Lucy Spraggan, Peatbog Faeries and Skerryvore.
Win tickets to HebCelt Festival with Visit Scotland.
When: 29–31 Jul
Just 30 miles from Glasgow and a short ferry ride from Wemyss Bay across the Firth of Clyde, ButeFest is probably one of the easiest island festivals to get to in Scotland. The 35-minute crossing lands in Rothesay and from there it's but a 15-minute walk to the festival site where festival camping costs £5 per person. If you're a student or have a Young Scot card the camping is free. Headliners for the 2017 festival include The Wedding Present, We Are Scientists and the incredibly named Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5.
Some more dates for your 2017 diary...
Piping Live – 17–23 Aug
Jura Music Festival – 22–24 Aug
Blas Festival – 1–9 Sep
Best of the West – 8–9 Sep
Skye Live – 22–23 Sep