Believe it or not the Scottish festival scene doesn’t just revolve around T in The Park, Wickerman (which is taking a year out in 2016) and Belladrum. Whilst these festivals are all indisputably brilliant in their own ways, there are plenty of smaller independent Scottish festivals that are just as worthy of your time, if not more.
They all have their own unique quirks and also all have brilliant atmospheres, often better in fact as the people at these more intimate gigs are there because they genuinely love the music on offer – not because they’ve been convinced by pals it’ll be a great weekend and then they spend the full three days crying about the mud.
So if you’re looking for something a bit different this year, check out one – or all – of our picks of the unique festivals Scotland has to offer and experience a cheap weekend (many still have early bird tickets on sale) full of tremendous music and gorgeous scenery.
After starting life as an area of Wickerman in 2002, Eden – a festival created by a council run music group with three members, who were all under 17 – took the plunge and branched out from the well established event to become a standalone, boutique festival.
The leap of faith paid off as the event is now well respected in its own right as an acclaimed festival that’s eco-friendly and supportive of local businesses, artists and most importantly, musicians. This year there’s over 300 acts performing between 9 – 12 June across the nine stages, with King Charles, Gentlemen’s Dub Club and Congo Natty just some of the exciting acts to be announced so far, but the festival is about so much more than music.
There’s an eclectic mix of sounds and environments to experience at the festival including ‘psychedelic tropical’ dance tents’; the Healing Field, where the Eden Healing Team will be offering aromatherapy, crystal therapy, reiki, various massage techniques and other treatments (some of which will be free); the Vishnu Lounge, dubbed a ‘paradise on the fringes of Eden’ where you can chill out in the hammocks, lounge in bathtubs and enjoy the chai cafés; the cycle powered reggae stage, with a pedal-powered stage and café that celebrates all things sustainable; the exclusive, invite only boogie parlour; and so many more quirky areas that proves there really is something for everyone at this unique festival.
Tier three tickets are still available online for £105, snap them up now before they rise to £115 in tier four.
This four day not-for-profit Celtic music festival is held in Stornoway, against the unique backdrop of the Hebrides, making it the perfect place to celebrate Scottish music and Celtic culture.
The music on offer incorporates contemporary traditional music with rock, indie-folk and world influences. In 2016, the festival is celebrating its 21st birthday and the guest list for the party is growing all the time. Acclaimed Scottish folk band Breabach are the latest act to join the line-up which features superstars Runrig, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Hayseed Dixie, Julie Fowlis, John McCusker, King Creosote and Astrid among others.
HebCelt will be held from 13-16 July and the organisers are joining forces for the first time with Pitch Village to bring a pioneering style of camping to the festival. Tents will be provided – pre-pitched and fully-equipped – allowing festival goers the chance to pre-book accommodation for two to eight people.
The festival attracts crowds from all over the world and draws in around 15,000 visitors – about twice the size of the population of Stornoway. The area is gorgeous and the island community always reach out and offer a welcoming hand to visitors, making this one of the most special experiences you’ll have all summer. The early bird tickets sold out in record time but weekend tickets are still available for £87 or £74 for concessions.
Scottish hip hop giants Stanley Odd are one of the first acts announced to play this year’s MugStock; a boutique festival taking place amid the stunning scenery of Mugdock Country Park, less than 10 miles from the centre of Glasgow, on the bank holiday weekend 29th – 31st July.
The boutique festival started last year and became one of the most talked about events of 2015. The unstoppable yellow clad army which is Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5 also feature, headlining the new Chameleon Stage as part of a Yellow Movement (which you can read more about on page 42) takeover on the Saturday night alongside compatriots Mickey 9s and The Girobabies.
Exciting new additions for 2016 include an outdoor main stage arena and a dance tent bringing the total number of stages to six. The festival have promised more announcements soon including at least one more showstopping headliner and around 60 other acts.
In the meantime, the festival is throwing a party: MugStock’s Springtime Shindig in the SWG3 Studio Warehouse, Glasgow on Saturday 9th April, 2pm – 2am. This all day gig looks set to be a mini festival in itself, with bands interspersed with other activities including Hula Hoop workshops, activities for children and the chance to help build a giant chameleon to be displayed at the Chameleon Stage of the festival. Weekend tickets for MugStock are £75, making MugStock one of the best value festivals out.
Knockengorroch World Ceilidh 2016 returns to the hills of Scotland’s Southern Uplands from 26 – 29 May for another celebration of Celtic, roots and world music in Kirkcudbrightshire – a beautiful corner of Scotland.
The festival began in summer 1998 and although it has gone from strength to strength in the years since, it remains true to its roots and continues to exist with sustainability, will never ‘sell out or go corporate’ and still lists ‘great music, arts and diversity’ as the primary motives behind the festival. Although the festival is known for showcasing the best Scottish musicians, from all genres, it also seeks to promote multi-cultural genres and books the best in both Scottish and European talent to showcase Celtic and World music in both traditional and contemporary fields.
Some of the recently announced acts for this year’s festival include Black Uhuru, who were the first reggae band to win a Grammy award and Niteworks, a four-piece formed on the Isle of Skye, who fuse Gaelic language and traditional music with electronic influences to create a very unique sound.
However, the festival has more than music to offer attendees with a silent disco, comedy, cabaret, children’s activities, heritage and arts workshops, a healing area and much more.
Super advance tickets are still on sale with four day tickets available at £99 or £94 for concession tickets.