Sunday, 18 July 2010

Hebridean Celtic Festival

Last night, Saturday night, I attended a concert by folk-rock band Runrig, which was the star attraction for the Hebridean Celtic Festival this year There appear to have been 5,000 people in the big blue tent (this picture from 2007)

What was not very well organised was the provision of refreshments. Runrig last played in Stornoway in 2005, and at the time, the concert lasted until 1 am. Bearing that in mind, I purchased a token for a beverage  in advance, and joined the queue upon arriving at the venue. It took 90 minutes for me to reach the bar. I am kicking myself for the stupidity of waiting, because I missed half the concert as a result. However, it should not take all that time to serve drinks at a concert like this, and it was poorly organised. Runrig played only for two hours, running off an easy run of old ditties, and only three Gaelic songs. The whole experience left me very disappointed and disgruntled.

What has not affected me directly, but is another major gripe, is the lack of accommodation. The whole of the HCF, which ran from Wednesday until last night, has probably attracted 20,000 people. The problem of beds becomes apparent if you bear in mind that the total population of Stornoway is about 9,000, and that of the whole island of Lewis 20,000. A lot of people ended up camping, but, as my blogposts have intimated, the weather has been singularly inclement this week. Camping isn't really enjoyable - and in addition, the terrain around the big tent was quite muddy. One acquaintance of mine was injured in a fall, resulting from the bogginess.

I'm beginning to reach the conclusion that it is fantastic to have an event like HCF here in Lewis, but the number of people it attracts is too big for this island and this town to cope with.


  1. As a result, all the £1.99 bog roll had been sold in Tescos and there was no fresh fruit & veg. Oh, hang on....this happens every week in there.

    Arnish, was it someone from the lottery/fags checkout at the Co-op serving the beers last night?! Ha..ha...
    (There are no other supermarkets in Stornoway).

  2. emporioalanjohn should have been given the drinks concession and there'd have been no queueing. More island women should be prepared to share their beds during the festival ( and afterwards) is Donald's view. Chrissie Mary Morrison (Miss) is always willing to share hers. Sorry you didn't enjoy Runrig Arnish or at least missed so much of their set.
    Next year the Heb fest will be on Skype so no one wil have to leave their computer.

  3. Calum, you may well say that, I couldn't possibly comment. 
    I'm sorry if I gave the impression I was there to pour beers down my neck, rather than hear the gig.

  4. I went and I thought that Runrig, as always, were brilliant. I did what sensible people do, and got tanked up in McNeils and the Clachan before the concert started, then sweated it all out jumping up and down so I could drive home safely. When you consider the rather small number of people involved in organising Hebcelt, I think they do a brilliant job. Caroline and Murdo will always welcome volunteers to help.

  5. Malkie, I enjoyed what I heard of Runrig. My blogposts tend to reflect what I hear out and about. The only criticism is related to the bar area, and I gather that during the other nights of HCF 2010 there were no such problems. The sheer number of people at the Runrig gig probably overwhelmed the volunteers in the bar.
    I echo your compliments at the organisers of the HCF, with my critical remarks intended as constructive criticism; and as a healthy degree of self-deprecation.

  6. The bar was also pretty poor on Thursday but Friday was excellent by comparison, Saturday though ...