The Shetland Folk Festival

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Each year, around the beginning of May, Shetland's indefatigable Folk Festival Society stages what's generally acknowledged to be one of the best events of its kind anywhere.

The first festival was held in 1981 and it featured, among others, Kathryn Tickell, Dick Gaughan and the late Sean McGuire. Down the years, a host of other names has followed them: Kate Rusby, Elvis Costello, Son Yambu, Awatinas, Hayseed Dixie, Eddie Reader, Ralph McTell, Black Umfolosi, Elana James, Sharon Shannon, Mary Black, Hanggai and the Peatbog Faeries, to name just a very few. As that list suggests, the range of music is eclectic. It's a genuinely international event that connects Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australasia. All of this is anchored, of course, in a community where music – of all kinds – is at the very heart of Shetland culture and community life.

One of the defining features of the Shetland Folk Festival is its commitment to spreading music throughout Shetland. Concerts don't just happen in Lerwick, but in several venues scattered around the islands. The festival is fused with the community in every other way too. Visiting performers stay not in hotels but in people's homes and the running of the event, always to a very high standard, is a triumph of voluntary effort. A festival club provides a social focus and a place where memorable sessions stretch through till dawn. On the last night, all the visiting artistes circulate between three large venues in Lerwick.

To find out about the next Shetland Folk Festival, please go to the festival website.

Related Links

  • Shetland Folk Festival - dedicated to presenting the best folk music from around the globe to the Shetland community