Hebridean Celtic Festival celebrates its environmental connections with award

IT’S the first Celtic Connections weekend of the year in Glasgow, a time for the dear green place to bask in the glow of music, carousing and friendships.

Yet it’s the event’s Western Isles cousins, Heb Celt, that might well be pouring themselves a Highlander measure tonight.

For the Stornoway based musical festival, famed for its warm welcome and spectacular setting, has just won its fourth award in just three months. 

The annual gathering picked up a Highly Commended accolade at A Greener Festival Awards in recognition of its drive to minimise the event’s environmental impact.

It was the only Scottish festival to earn a Highly Commended award which signifies ‘a well-managed, environmentally-aware festival, which has taken significant steps to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions and to engage with the audience’.

 The winners were announced during the Eurosonic Noorderslag festival and conference in The Netherlands when 34 festivals in 12 countries were honoured.

An awards spokesperson said: “With the continued development of the Greener Festival assessment criteria, festivals have been challenged more than ever to be awarded, and this really is a great example of the work HebCelt does”.

It is another major honour for the festival which in November was named Best Cultural Event or Festival in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA), a title it also won in 2014.

In October, it collected both the Festival of the Year award and the Grand Prix prize for ‘best of the best’ at the Scottish Event Awards.

Festival director Caroline Maclennan said: “This is another amazing award in what has been a truly outstanding few months for our festival.

 “Reducing HebCelt’s impact on our unique environment is a sharp focus for the team given our location and with so much of our infrastructure having to travel to the island.  However our green team and all the volunteers and contractors who work behind the scenes are to be commended on supporting us in our achievements.

 “We regularly receive fantastic feedback from audiences on our commitment to greening activities and this award is a pat on the back for the dedication of those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to help us achieve such outstanding recognition.

“All should feel justifiably proud of their remarkable contribution.”

 A Greener Festival is a not-for-profit company committed to helping events, festivals and venues around the world adopt environmentally efficient practices.

Award applicants undergo a rigorous assessment, site visit and post-event analysis of their events’ sustainability actions. Events are assessed on 11 main areas including transport, waste, power, water and local area impacts.

As part of the awards process, the organisation sends an auditor to assess measures taken by festivals to make them as green as possible. It also speaks with traders, audience, and sub-contractors, as well as viewing every aspect of the event.

HebCelt’s main arena is situated in the spectacular setting in the Lews Castle grounds and festival organisers have introduced a number of measures relating to the sustainable use of resources, reducing emissions and raising awareness of environmental matters among volunteers, suppliers, contractors, artists and festival goers.

Innovations have included the introduction of Ecocups, a rigid plastic branded cup designed to be re-used annually by the festival, helping to cut back on plastic waste, and it was the first Scottish festival to partner with E-Car Club to provide a fleet of electric vehicles discounted for music fans.

HebCelt’s other recent awards have recognised the economic, cultural and musical impact of the festival. HebCelt has generated in excess of £20 million for the islands over more than two decades.

The Hebridean Celtic Festival is a not-for-profit charitable event firmly rooted within its community and is almost entirely managed and produced by voluntary effort.

The festival has grown from a small event attracting less than 1,000 fans, to an international showpiece for roots, Celtic and traditional music. It is estimated it has generated more than £20 million for the local economy over two decades.

It attracts a wide overseas audience, including from across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

An independent economic impact study of the 2016 festival showed it generated £2.2 million for the economy and helped safeguard 40 tourism-related jobs.

Organisers followed this up with another hugely successful event last summer which was headlined by The Waterboys, Imelda May and Dougie MacLean.

Just a few weeks later, HebCelt curated a sell-out opening concert at the Lorient Interceltic Festival in Brittany – Europe’s largest Celtic festival – when Scotland was Guest Country of Honour.

 The 2018 HebCelt, which will run from 18-21 July. will be headlined by Deacon Blue. Other acts announced so far include Scottish bands Skipinnish, Blazin’ Fiddles, Tide Lines, The Tumbling Souls, Kinnaris Quintet and Trail West; as well as Vishtèn and the Yves Lambert Trio, from Canada; and Habadekuk, from Denmark.

Weekend arena tickets priced £93, £83 concession and £30 (6-14 years) are available from www.hebceltfest.com.

Further announcements are expected soon.

WANT TO LEARN MORE: Read: 

* on Twitter  https://twitter.com/hebcelt
* on Instagram https://instagram.com/hebcelt
* on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HebCelt
* online https://www.hebceltfest.com
* YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/hebceltfest
* Spotify https://open.spotify.com/user/hebcelt.festival
* Sponsors https://www.hebceltfest.com/backstage/sponsors

IMAGE CREDITS: Colin Cameron/HebCelt 

 

 

Shaun Milne is a Scottish based journalist with a particular interest in environmental issues, politics and travel.

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